- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2006

We have enormous respect for former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. But the mayor badly misfired in Thursday’s editorial which appeared on the Web site RealClearPolitics, titled “A ‘Liberal with sanity,’ ” in which he says that he has traveled to Maryland to campaign with Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, who is running for governor. In his op-ed, Mr. Koch mentions the Baltimore mayor only in passing, and does not examine the substance of Mr. O’Malley’s policy positions. Still, it is truly odd to suggest, as Mayor Koch appeared to do in his op-ed, that endorsing Mr. O’Malley is somehow analogous to endorsing for re-election Sen. Joe Lieberman or a security-minded Republican congressman like Rep. Peter King of New York.

As close observers of Maryland politics and Mr. O’Malley’s erratic performance as mayor of Baltimore, we can say this with confidence: He has much more in common with the likes of Moveon.org and McGovernism than he does with the likes of Mr. Lieberman or Mayor Koch.

At the National Press Club in February 2005, Mr. O’Malley, often portrayed as a national Democratic Party “expert” on homeland-security manners, suggested that President Bush’s budgetary policies were analogous to al Qaeda attacks on American cities. Mr. O’Malley said that “back on September 11, terrorists attacked our metropolitan cores, two of America’s great cities,” and then went on to imply that Mr. Bush, with his “sad,” “irresponsible” and “dishonest” budget, had done much the same: “… years later, we are given a budget proposal by our commander in chief, the president of the United States. And with a budget ax, he is attacking America’s cities. He is attacking our metropolitan core.”

The Baltimore mayor is the standard-bearer for and close political ally of the Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly — one of the worst state legislatures in the nation. These are the same Democrats, after all, who passed a discriminatory and self-defeating tax on Wal-Mart, and, with the active support of Mr. O’Malley, have sought made it easier for illegal aliens to obtain drivers licenses and in-state tuition at Maryland universities. Over Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s veto, Mr. O’Malley’s friends in the General Assembly also increased the job-destroying minimum wage, and passed an ill-conceived early-voting scheme that was later struck down in court. When the state board of education tried to take over a group of 11 failing schools in Baltimore, Mr. O’Malley’s friends in the General Assembly took action — not to actually fix the problems, but to pass legislation over Mr. Ehrlich’s veto nixing the state takeover and returning the schools to the jurisdiction of the people largely responsible for the mess in the first place: the teachers unions and Mr. O’Malley’s allies on the city school board.

By contrast, when Mr. Koch was mayor of New York City, he really did try to break with the liberal orthodoxy by taking on the difficult challenge of standing up to the public-employee unions. For all of the above reasons and more, Mayor Koch’s endorsement of Martin O’Malley is simply baffling.

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