In politics, we need fewer goofs, not more

April 06, 2006|by TIM ROWLAND

Interesting game of hide and seek that lawmakers have going on in Annapolis. It's a little hard to explain what's happening, unless you have seen "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," specifically the scene with the killer rabbit.

To put it in layman's terms, King Arthur's court (Republicans) have run into a terrifying rabbit (Democrats) that slaughters a couple of knights with its teeth (politically motivated legislation), upon which King Arthur gives the command to "Run away! Run away!"

To this end, Senate Republicans demonstrated their displeasure with Democrats recently by walking out of the chamber in protest.

No doubt this taught the Democrats a good lesson, although what that lesson was remains cloudy. You might be tempted to think that if you wish to get your way, subtracting votes from your side on the Senate floor would not be the way to go. But these politicians are professionals, and they know things that we don't.


Apparently, the GOP was trying to get the message across that it is in the minority in state government. OK, fine. Message received. But I think we already knew that. And I'm not sure that, by behaving like goofs, this is the way to convince voters to ADD to your ranks. As a voter, I'm thinking we need fewer goofs, not more goofs, but maybe that's just me. If you want to attract our attention in a good way, feel free to support some constructive state policy or something.

So anyhow, the Republican band walked upstairs to the offices of Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who threw open his doors and said he was glad to see them. He said they had done the right thing.

Since the legislation they were protesting passed anyway, we are equally in the dark about how this was the right thing, but again, we have to trust these people to know what they're doing.

And sure enough, when the Democrats passed their legislation and took it to the governor's office for him to sign, they found that his doors were no longer open, but locked tight as a drum. Fifteen bills were taken to the governor's office late Friday afternoon, but he wasn't home.

Under normal circumstances, you would not want the governor of your state hiding out like he's ducking a subpoena from a crack sting, but Saturday was the last day that the legislature could pass bills and still have time to override a veto before the session ends.

So, since there's controversy over precisely when he received the bills, it might fall to the courts to decide this legal/philospohical question: If a bill falls at the executive doorstep but no governor is around to hear it, does it beat the deadline?

"Locking the door and refusing to accept official documents is simply silly," Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, a Prince George's County Democrat, wrote in a letter to the governor, according to The (Baltimore) Sun. "The image of your staff members cowering behind a locked door and refusing to accept documents from the legislature simply doesn't square with how you personally do business."

The governor's office responded, "Perhaps the legislature would like to launch a special committee to waste another million dollars of taxpayer money to get to the bottom of (the locked door issue)."

Kids, gather 'round and listen closely, because it is beneficial to learn how to resolve your disputes the way grownups do.

If a teacher is giving a test that you do not wish to take, simply go to the utility closet and lock yourself in. She can't fail you if, technically, you haven't answered any questions incorrectly, right? It least not until a court says she can.

And if things aren't to your liking in geometry class - perhaps the Pythagorean Theorem isn't working out the way you would like it to - just get some of your friends together and walk out. You might not get your way, but you can't buy that kind of publicity with your principal.

Because if this behavior is good enough for state lawmakers, it's good enough for you, right? I mean, here are the Democrats outside the governor's door in a shark outfit saying "Candygram," and when no one answers they slide the paperwork under the governor's door, but he says that doesn't count because the lawmakers forgot to say "Simon says." So compared to that, anything you children choose to do from here on out is going to seem pretty mature.

And your parents elected all these people, so they must agree with their tactics. They have to be proud. Maybe they will even let you go on a field trip to Annapolis to watch these upstanding public servants at work. And while you're there, have some fun. Take a look behind a potted plant. You never know whether you will find a dust bunny or a senator.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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