Thursday, January 18, 2007

O'Malley: Let's Get It Started!

(Originally posted on The Old Line.)

As you may have heard, Martin O'Malley was sworn in as Governor. David Lublin has the text of his inaugural address, if you want to read it. Now obviously, no one can say for certain at this point whether O'Malley will be do a good job. One thing, however, that is interesting is that, despite the lofty rhetoric of his recent speeches, he's not taking an aggressive approach to promoting his agenda, as the Post notes. And while several Democrats in the General Assembly have put forth a number of ambitious proposals, O'Malley hasn't yet committed political capital, as it were, to any of them.

Compare this with the newly-elected Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York, who has proposed a panoply of initiatives, ranging from universal preschool to campaign finance reform. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has been quick to pass a series of important legislation, albeit of narrow range. Indeed, among progressives, there's a sense that we are in a moment where Democrats can begin to set the terms of political debate in their favor, rather than constantly arguing within Republican frames. It's a shame, then, that O'Malley, in one of the most Democratic states in the union, doesn't feel confident enough, at least not yet, to pursue a strong progressive agenda. The Post article above attributes this reticence to experience as Mayor of Baltimore, which certainly would kneecap most idealist politicians. And as I've mentioned, tackling the coming budget deficits may well curb any chicken-in-every-pot instincts in Annapolis. But I hope O'Malley doesn't let his reticence, however well founded, get the better of him.

UPDATE: Dan Rodrick's column on O'Malley's inaugural address covers the same ground in more detail:
O'Malley represents a generation of politicians - he's one year younger than Barack Obama - who can take a fresh approach to things, who can set high ideals and dare the states and the nation to achieve them.

But - and I never thought I'd be saying this - in some respects, it appears O'Malley has become too cautious in his approach. His inaugural speech was another example.

One of the attractive qualities of this guy was his impatience.

2 Comments:

Blogger Terry in Silver Spring said...

Let's give the man a chance before we start second guessing him.

1/18/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. I wasn't trying to slam O'Malley, but challenging him to make the most of his administration, as Spitzer and others are doing.

1/18/2007 01:43:00 PM  

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