Why the Baltimore Sun should apologize

By Les Kinsolving

The Baltimore Sun, in its endorsing Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for governor of Maryland, decided to go after Townsend’s rival Republican Rep. Robert Ehrlich’s running mate, attorney Michael Steele, as follows:

“He brings little to the team but the color of his skin.” (Emphasis added.)

Steele was president of the student body of Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University. He graduated from Georgetown Law School and was so effective as this nation’s first black Republican state chairman that Ehrlich asked him to be his running mate.

The Baltimore Sun has not apologized for this statement, and WCBM Baltimore conducted a poll asking listeners if this Sun statement was racist. The results: No – 1 percent; Yes – 99 percent.

On Tuesday, Congressman Ehrlich was elected Maryland’s first Republican governor since 1966. He defeated the Sun’s endorsee from America’s political royal family by 57,000 votes (53-47 percent) in a state where Democrat voter registrations are nearly twice that of Republican voter registrations.

Despite this, the Baltimore Sun has not apologized to Michael Steele, Maryland’s lieutenant governor-elect. Nor has Townsend campaign worker Julius Henson ever really apologized for calling Ehrlich a “Nazi.” The Townsend campaign claimed that Henson had never been employed, while at the same time insisting that he had been fired.

The negative effect of this was compounded by Mrs. Townsend’s (KKT) declaration at an NAACP-sponsored debate with Ehrlich that affirmative action by race was justified because segregation, lynching and slavery was also by race. This contention that in effect Jim Crow should be replaced by Crow Jim cost KKT an almost unprecedented loss of votes in Maryland’s large and almost solidly Democrat Jewish community, many of whom could remember pre-World War II quotas at law and medical schools that severely limited the acceptance of any Jews, regardless of entrance exams.

Mrs. Townsend promised not to politicize the Beltway sniper attacks. But her attack ads on Ehrlich proceeded almost immediately to do exactly that. Many observers suspect that in this she yielded to such campaign handlers as Robert Shrum.

She served for eight years under Gov. Parris Glendening, but only after she began campaigning late this year did she ever publicly disagree with Glendening, who has become one of Maryland’s most unpopular governors. His spending habits left Maryland with nearly a $2-billion deficit. Among other things, Glendening purchased a luxury plane he claimed transported convicts, which also transported him to football games. And while still married, Glendening raised a staffer’s salary by $50,000 while spending nights in her Annapolis condo.

Now the Baltimore Sun has a headline about the same person they endorsed for governor: Townsend Never Shook Off Lightweight Label.

In this story, they reported that Baltimore’s handsome Mayor Martin O’Malley “was talking about a vacuum of leadership in the state Democratic party as recently as March. When he gave his speech announcing that he would not enter the primary (for governor of Maryland against Mrs. Townsend), he never mentioned Townsend’s name, declining at that time to endorse her.”

But in another story, the Sun quoted this same Mayor O’Malley as claiming:

“I think Kathleen Kennedy Townsend did her very best. I did all I could do for her.” (Emphasis added.)

Despite this, the Sun described Mayor O’Malley as one “who instantly emerges as one of the strongest Democratic candidates for statewide office.”

This begs the question as to whether Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will ever forget O’Malley’s description of her as “a vacuum of leadership.”

Will Michael Steele ever forget the president of Maryland’s state Senate Democrat Sen. Michael Miller’s description of him as an “Uncle Tom”?

Will the majority of voters of Maryland ever forget how, at the NAACP sponsored debate, supporters of Mrs. Townsend not only booed Congressman Ehrlich but also booed his wife, Kendall, and his parents?

On Ehrlich victory night, when the congressman referred to Lt. Gov. Townsend, Ehrlich’s supporters all applauded.

But in her concession speech, when KKT mentioned Ehrlich, her supporters booed him – again.