Opinion: Columnists

O'Malley laid an egg in Charlotte

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Another election year, another major gaffe from Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

But, as in the 2010 Maryland gubernatorial race, the mainstream -- by which I mean liberal -- media outlets will give him a pass.

Two years ago, when O'Malley was running for re-election against former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr., O'Malley committed the major gaffe of calling illegal immigrants "new Americans." In any state other than Maryland, his candidacy would have been done.

But in the Free State, overrun with sappy Democrats, O'Malley's popularity actually surged after he made his gaffe. It was as if Maryland Democrats were saying they wanted a goof in the governor's mansion.

The Sunday before Democrats started their donkey shines at their national convention, O'Malley went on CBS's "Face the Nation" and made another gaffe.

"Can you honestly say," host Bob Schieffer asked O'Malley, "that people are better off today than they were four years ago?" Here's how O'Malley chose to answer the question: "No, but that's not the question of this election. The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before [former President] George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars -- charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit cards."

Marylanders know this was vintage O'Malley, who has no peer when it comes to blaming Republicans for the failures of Democrats. Notice how he didn't mention that congressional Democrats voted overwhelmingly to support both of those "desert wars."

In fact, when one William Jefferson Clinton was president, it was Democrats who ranted and raved about the need for "regime change" in Iraq and pretty much whooped up one of those "desert wars."

Democrats are every bit as responsible for those "desert wars" as Democrats, but don't expect to hear such an admission from O'Malley. This is the guy who was mayor of Baltimore when school officials ran up a deficit of at least $58 million.

And O'Malley's the guy who made Ehrlich, the governor at the time, the villain.

Here's how it went down: Ehrlich offered to have the state cover the deficit, under the condition that there would be some oversight from state officials. O'Malley, aided and abetted by his fellow Baltimore Democrats, accused that mean, old Republican Ehrlich of trying to "take over" city schools. Democratic voters in Baltimore -- that would be virtually all of them -- who had the most to lose by city officials not coming clean about the deficit went for this okey-doke. They bought it hook, line and sinker.

This was after -- after, mind you -- O'Malley had already made a public omission that he had tried to get answers to some hard questions about finances from the school superintendent who was in charge at the time the deficit was run up. O'Malley said he wasn't able to get answers to any of his questions.

Sounds like a mea culpa to me, but when O'Malley ran for governor, he ran in part on what he considered his fine education record. By any objective measure, that record was a failure. To this day -- and to the everlasting shame of every Marylander who voted for him in his run for governor -- O'Malley might be the only candidate to have run for office on a record of failure and won.

When O'Malley admitted that Americans weren't better off today than they were four years ago, he was, in essence, admitting that President Obama had failed. O'Malley must have figured that Obama, as O'Malley did in 2006, could also run on a record of failure and win.

There's only one problem with O'Malley's assumption: Voters across America aren't nearly as sappy as the ones in Maryland.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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Gregory Kane

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The Washington Examiner