The PJ Tatler

O'Malley to Make Virtue Out of Necessity

Former Maryland Governor — and mayor of Baltimore — Martin O’Malley is probably going to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.

But there are some analysts who think his nascent campaign received a fatal blow this week with the riots in Baltimore.

Martin O’Malley’s political career, which started on the streets of Baltimore, may also end there: Half of Democratic insiders in the early states believe this week’s riots have hurt the former mayor’s already long-shot presidential hopes.

The POLITICO Caucus, our weekly bipartisan survey of the most important activists, operatives and elected officials in Iowa and New Hampshire, found that Democrats are evenly split over whether racial unrest will be a minor or significant issue in the presidential campaign.

“I really like and respect O’Malley, so it pains me to write that I think the Baltimore violence will essentially disqualify him as a viable presidential candidate for a broad swath of Americans,” said a New Hampshire Democrat, who – like all 73 respondents – completed the questionnaire anonymously in order to speak candidly.

“The renaissance of Baltimore has been such a huge part of his biography when he speaks to Democrats, so when your TV shows Baltimore on fire, riot police on the streets and baseball at an empty Camden Yards, one can only wonder what kind of lasting progress he made there.”

What’s an ambitious politician to do?

If he’s smart, he makes a virtue out of necessity and embraces the cause of the cities.

“We haven’t had an agenda for America’s cities probably since Jimmy Carter … We have left cities to fend for themselves. … But look, the structural problems that we have in our economy, the way we ship jobs and profits abroad, the way we failed to invest in our infrastructure and failed to invest in American cities, we are creating the conditions. Please, Speaker Boehner and his crocodile tears about the $130 million, that is a spit in the bucket compared to what we need to do as a nation to rebuild our country. And America’s cities are the heart of our country. We need an agenda for American cities. We need to stop ignoring especially people of color and act like they are disposable citizens in this nation. That’s not how our economy is supposed to work, it’s not how or our country works,” an impassioned O’Malley said.

NBC host Chuck Todd asked, “Do you think you can run on your record as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, given all this? You are getting a lot of scrutiny now. Do you think this is a positive thing voters will look at and say Martin O’Malley ought to be president?”

“I did not dedicate my life to make Baltimore safer and more just place because it was easy. And I am more inclined and deeply motivated to address what’s wrong with our country and what needs to be healed and  what needs to be fixed. This should be a wake-up call. What’s happened in Baltimore should be a wake-up call for the entire country. The protests that also happened in New York, Philadelphia, and other cities–we have deep problems as a country. And we need deeper understanding if we are going to give our children a better future,” said O’Malley.

You’ve got to hand it to O’Malley. He constantly touts his wonderful tenure as Baltimore mayor despite the fact that he left office less than 8 years ago. Has the city plummeted to its current depths in 8 short years?

Not hardly. The police were just as corrupt 8 years ago, as was city government. Urban blight was just as bad 8 years ago. The schools were just as bad 8 years ago.

But we’re supposed to forget all that and elect O’Malley anyway? Washington already sends tens of billions in direct aid to the cities and more in indirect subsidies for schools, health care, and other social needs. Perhaps before we start worrying about “developing an agenda” for the cities, we look at what we’re already spending to see what’s working and what isn’t.

Most major metropolitan areas in America are having financial difficulties, largely brought about by their own ruinous fiscal policies. It isn’t a question of neglect. It is a question of mismanagement, corruption, cynicism, and political manipulation by the one-party state — the Democratic Party.