Thursday, September 29, 2005

For the Senate

It's a rare day when I read the Wash Post Metro section, a rarer day still when I read the Metro section before the others.

But today was such a day.

First, there was an article and an opinion piece on the gubernatorial race announcement by Baltimore Mayor, Martin O'Malley. O'Malley's announcement was no surprise for those of us even remotely cognizant of Maryland politics. Fellow Democrat and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan will also announce shortly.

Second, American University history professor Allan Lichtman announced for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, to succeed the retiring Paul Sarbanes. Lichtman is on TV a lot to comment on various political and historical comings and goings, but he has never run for office before, and is considered a dark horse to Congressman Ben Cardin, and former Congressman and NAACP chief Kwasi Mfume. But I like what Lichtman had to say:

"I am running to change what is wrong in Washington," Lichtman said. "My friends, today there is too much government intruding in our private lives and not enough government meeting our needs."

As readers of this blog will recognize, this is exactly what I believe Democrats should be talking about. Conservative leadership has and is producing a government and politics that is committed to invading our privacy and enforcing a narrow brand of morality while bungling it's duty to protect its most vulnerable citizens, all the while it shifts the balance of power even further to corporations and the wealthy.

How difficult is this for Democrats to say? It's a simple message, with an ample supply of evidence from five years of conservative Republican government to back it up. But most Democrats continue to tread softly and cautiously, afraid perhaps of offending somebody.

With the Republican's two majority leaders in Congress either already indicted or under serious criminal investigation, with a former official arrested, with a well-connected lobbyist under increasing scrutiny, with the White House's top political guru the subject of a grand jury investigation, with the after effects of Terry Schiavo and the two hurricanes, the continuing downward spiral in Iraq, if Democrats can't gain an audience, I have a hard time believing circumstances will give them the same kind of opportunity again.

Here's hoping the party leadership will follow Dr. Lichtman's lead, and call the Republicans out for their hostile agenda and offer an alternative.

What the Senator Reads

I saw over on Lindsay's blog where she listed the books she had read that are also on the American Library Association's list of most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000. Lindsay has read 29 of them. Pretty impressive. So I gave the full list to the Senator and asked him to identify which ones he had read.

Here is the Senator's list:

13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
55. Cujo by Stephen King
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
71. Native Son by Richard Wright
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King

So the Senator has read 10 of them (an eleventh, Brave New World, is on the Senator's night stand but he's only gotten through the first couple of chapters).

I remarked to the Senator that his list was long on Stephen King and short on classics like Mark Twain. Moreover, I was especially surprised to see #72, Women on Top on his list. Why had the Senator read this?

The Senator just gave me one of those looks and asked if I didn't have a hearing to attend or a constituent letter to write.