The speech that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, gave on May 3 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute would have been better suited in some respects for delivery at the John McCain or Mitt Romney presidential libraries.
Oh, wait. Those don’t exist, because there were no McCain or Romney presidencies, the mushy-moderate presidencies of the sort Mr. Hogan appears to prefer — and that he envisions for himself in 2024.
In his Simi Valley, California, speech, the second-term chief executive called on Republican voters to “stand against the extremes,” asserting that the GOP is “desperately in need of a course correction.”
Not surprisingly, Mr. Hogan views himself as that course correction and as a politician with broad appeal like the Gipper, who he claimed was his political hero. But apparently, the Marylander has forgotten Reagan’s famous “11th Commandment”: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
In his speech, Mr. Hogan rightly criticized the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol as “an outrageous attack on our democracy,” but then claimed it was “incited by the losing candidate’s inflammatory, false rhetoric.”
That’s the kind of specious attack on former President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, that you’d expect from the Democrat-controlled kangaroo court Jan. 6 committee and its Republican-outlier enablers, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Mr. Trump did not incite the riot, and it’s not clear what part of his exhortation to the crowd, “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” Mr. Hogan thinks qualifies as “inflammatory.”
What was inflammatory — and patently nonsensical — was Mr. Hogan’s assertion that the past four years were the worst for the Republican Party since the 1930s, “even worse than after Watergate, when Ronald Reagan had to rebuild the party from the ashes.”
By contrast with the economic wreckage wreaked by the Biden administration over the past 15 months, the prior 33 months of those past four years — when Mr. Trump was still in the White House — were, unlike now, marked by peace and economic prosperity.
“A party that lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections, and that couldn’t even beat Joe Biden, is desperately in need of a course correction,” said Mr. Hogan, even while failing to note that mushy-moderate GOP nominees for president of the kind he favors lost in 1992, 1996, 2008 and 2012.
“We won’t win back the White House by nominating Donald Trump or a cheap impersonation of him [in 2024]” Mr. Hogan insisted. The “cheap impersonation” cheap shot presumably was aimed at his fellow Republican governor, Ron DeSantis of Florida. Polls of GOP voters show Mr. DeSantis — not Mr. Hogan — is the runaway favorite for the nomination if Mr. Trump forgoes the 2024 race.
In his speech, the term-limited Maryland governor touted his bipartisan appeal in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 and where in 2018 he became just the second Republican governor ever to win reelection.
It’s tempting to remind Mr. Hogan that his reelection was due at least to some extent to how dreadfully bad his far-left Democratic opponent that year, Ben Jealous, was — so bad that even The Washington Post’s liberal editorial board wouldn’t endorse him.
Still, there’s no question Mr. Hogan does have bipartisan appeal in blue Maryland. That makes it all the more mystifying that he passed up a chance to run this fall for the Senate seat of left-wing Democrat Chris Van Hollen, and possibly flip a blue seat into the Republican column in what’s likely to be a red-wave year.
Rather than a quixotic run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, Mr. Hogan would better serve Maryland — and the country — if he were to challenge Maryland’s other far-left senator, Ben Cardin, who will turn 81 that year, or run for an open seat if the Democrat should opt to retire.