By Barry Rascovar
Aug. 5, 2015 — It’s clear I hit a nerve with my Aug. 3 column on Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. and what I perceived as a new, sharply condemnatory tone in his statements.
If you are on my blog, politicalmaryland.com, you can read the printable responses sent to the website — 14 of them — in the right-hand column under the heading “Recent Comments.”
Here are other reactions that I’ve received:
Kevin wrote: “I was very sad and disappointed in the tone of your column about Governor Hogan.
In a follow-up missive, he elaborated: “As the son of a high school graduate and a high school dropout, your comment, ‘most with limited education’ is mean-spirited and what are your facts behind this quote? People can have limited education and have decency and intelligence. Does it make you feel good to belittle individuals and groups?”
Jeffrey wrote: “I used to always agree with you, but perhaps not as much in recent years. . . However, I APPLAUD you for the outstanding journalism vis a vis Gov. Hogan. Many of us have diseases or injuries but don’t use that as an excuse for anything. There is no reason to treat the Governor any differently just because he has cancer. I am glad you continue to be hard-hitting, honest and objective. You are a credit to your profession. Personally, I feel that the Governor should resign and take care of himself rather than short-changing the state with his current limited leadership. (It was quite ‘limited’ even before he was diagnosed!!). And, yes, he has become mean and nasty and it’s only going to get worse.”
Mike, on the other hand, let Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com (which ran the column) know he was outraged: “There was a lot of false information used and it was clearly emotional. . . ‘Uneducated white people’? Really? LOL good luck with that. Welcome to the world of propaganda. Not everyone can handle responsibility.”
A tweeter wrote: “Closing the Baltimore jail was absolutely the right decision. Hooray for Gov. @LarryHogan ”
David H. chimed in: “I disagree with your article wholeheartedly. Your way of thinking is what has screwed up Maryland in the first place. People are tired of the media and their ‘opinion.’ I’m glad we cleaned house in Maryland, it was high time. I’m glad BALTIMORE is on Larry Hogan’s agenda. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is a worthless dud and has done nothing to support her constituents. Look at the condition of the police department, countless murders every day and the roads, just to name a few. Not Larry Hogan’s fault. It’s an absolute mess. The liberal agenda is to blame. Time to wake up and smell the coffee. Your way doesn’t work. Never has, never will.”
S.B. sent in this: “Mr. Rascovar, I have never heard of you before but after reading the article you so viciously wrote recently regarding our fine governor, I had to respond. Gov. Hogan is the best thing that has ever happened to MD. No doubt you are a Democrat who has enjoyed the one-party rule in our state that we have suffered through forever here in MD. Finally we have a fair-minded governor whose decisions are well thought-out, common sense, non-political, and looking out for the best interest of all Marylanders. For the record, Donald Trump is a joke. . . Larry Hogan is the real deal, sorely needed in this world of such political divisiveness that you obviously relish. Larry Hogan compromises, he reaches out & brings people together. He has in his administration people of other political parties, and, yes, he makes tough calls when needed. A great leader for MD, how refreshing. . . If only we had such a leader in the White House. You should be writing instead about our president; your article actually sounds like him & the way he has ruled our country.
Here’s a response from N.L.: “It would be a miracle if someone were to read your column and see you refer to angry black voters as people with a ‘limited education.’ We all know you do not have the guts. Of course, according to elitists like you, citizens without advanced degrees are too stupid to be involved in their own government.”
D.R. pounced on the column this way: “First impression from skimming your piece: Look at the pot calling . . . Takes one to know one. Looks like the media double standard again. I can’t see how Hogan’s purported unilateral dissing of Democrats is much different from O’Malley’s treatment of Republicans.”
John W. wrote: “I am saddened that you made mention of Gov. Hogan’s illness in your attempt to explain his decisions. By any measure, this is way out of bounds. You are better than that and you know it. Someone once said that the last defense to a weak argument is to get personal in criticizing your opponent.”
On that point, R.M. added, “Even for you, the attack on Gov. Hogan was pretty superfluous.”
M.B.. took a different slant: “Yeah. I agree he could have done things better. Could those actions be his response to us acting like the Republicans in Congress? I really hope that he will be more collaborative with Democrats in the General Assembly and with the locally elected officials, otherwise we will be in deep. . . . I live in Howard County and I see the same situation between the county executive and the county council. I am a tried-and-true Democrat and the election of Gov. Hogan in a Democratic state has to tell us something. The question is what? We can’t do anything until that question is discussed, analyzed and answered.”
Andrew F. takes a broader view of the situation: “I tend to blame both [Martin] O’Malley and [Anthony] Brown. Gov. O’Malley seemed to burn out rather early and he left Mr. Brown high and dry, never letting him share in the spotlight.”
Patricia R. emailed this one: “And so the real Hogan emerges. . . Is anyone really surprised? If the state’s Democrats had actually put forth a decent candidate, rather than assuming that Anthony Brown, who had accomplished nothing during his terms as Lt. Governor, we might have a governor who actually understood government. Now we’ve got Dirty Larry — at least for the next four years.”
Meyer M., meanwhile, resented discussion of Hogan’s health issues: “What ugly comment to refer to his chemotherapy! The New, Nasty Larry Hogan.”
Bob B. sent this message: “I like Hogan’s smoke screen. Let B-more rot. They are just killing their own. Go Hogan for 8 more years!!!!”
T.V. had this response: “I must say I’m not shocked by the disappointment I had when I read your article. You had many good points, and in some of them I agree with you even as a Republican. However, while to a point bringing up his illness might not be taboo and to some point should be discussed, the way you did it (as perceived by me) seems like a childish attack, and quite frankly why I don’t pay much attention to the mainstream or left-leaning medias. I know asking you to change the way you write to show more respect to elected officials will be moot. I will just say the negative overtone I felt makes me not want to agree with anything else you might bring to mass attention whether it is warranted or not. Hopefully this might at the very least cause a brief millisecond of counter-thought before you attack a man’s character rather then his actions.”
J. M. added another perspective: “A big standing ‘O’ for ya for the nasty-Hogan column and follow-up. If there’s anything that makes me livid about current GOP politics (well, there are a LOT of things), it’s how everything is reduced to emotionalism and whether you ‘like’ or ‘don’t like’ someone. It’s a way of avoiding real policy discourse, which of course they can’t engage in because they have no policy ideas beyond opposing anything Obama, immigrant, urban, female, etc. They latched onto a single line in your column, re: chemo, to avoid actually disputing the entire list of policy decisions you detailed concerning the Red Line, etc. Anyway, glad you struck a nerve, and I just wish there were as organized an on-line commentariat on the other side as there is with the whole Red State set.”
Then there’s this from R. L.: “Add to the Hogan list not only the abrupt curtailment of a recent, difficult-to-achieve toll increase, which jeopardizes the near- and long-term maintenance needs for most [toll] facilities, but also virtually eliminates replacement or some other solution to the problems of the Nice Bridge [in Southern Maryland] (for which there would have been major federal funding), but also the abrupt firing of probably the most highly qualified and effective airport administrator in the country — a finalist for [the] Atlanta [airport’s top job] who turned down [offers to run Chicago’s] O’Hare Airport and under whose leadership BWI had its greatest growth phase. Really hard to understand.”
I concur on his last point. Sadly, no reporters have delved into the heavy leadership turnover in the state’s Transportation Department and the mysterious firing of Paul Wiedefield at BWI, a true all-star airport and transportation administrator.
R.L. also raises a valid point that Hogan’s decision to lower tolls will have serious long-term consequences. Critical bridge repair/replacement work on the ancient Harry W. Nice Bridge over the Potomac River and the aging Thomas Hatem Bridge on U.S. 40 over the Susquehanna River are badly needed. But now there’s no money to do the job.
All that may be fodder for future columns. For now, it’s good to hear from readers, whatever their points of view.