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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Maybe O'Malley Has a Second Life

Martin O'Malley was on the City Council of Baltimore, MD. Then he was mayor of Baltimore. Then Governor of Maryland.

This week being associated with Baltimore is a dubious political asset.

The death of a black youth, the rioting, looting, fires. The revelations of "rough rides" in police paddy wagons that are all steel and seem to have NO rider safety padding or airbags has jolted the nation.

O'Malley has been mentioned as a potential contender against Hillary Clinton for the 2016 race to the White House. It turns out that he was also the architect of a "zero tolerance" police policy when mayor of Baltimore. That policy, associated with Republican New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani, is now blamed for a sharply deteriorating community and police relations.

To be fair, this no tolerance approach to law enforcement was also pushed by President Bill Clinton. Lots of money for more cops and more law enforcement was pushed out from Washington during that time when crime in Baltimore and the United States was high and everyone wanted more law and order.

I wrote and said on several radio shows that O'Malley would now be toast because there is now a reassessment of the Giuliani law enforcement model. O'Malley would be blamed for the current crisis in Baltimore and liberals, Democrats, and Blacks would reject O'Malley as a viable contender.

Then several astute observers of the national political scene and former students of mine shared with me their analysis. No one likes urban riots regardless of how these are justified. No one likes a black man shooting a young undercover police officer in New York as happened just days after the Baltimore fiasco. In most American cities black crime is a real issue and "white flight" to the suburbs which we don't talk about much anymore is largely responsible for turning some neighborhoods in cities into truly neglected and poor minority residences.

O'Malley may be able to re-own his law-and-order role as mayor and make a case that high crime rates are an existential barrier to prosperity and a happy future for America's poor minority communities. If I were O'Malley I would do a "Full Bill Clinton" and put my head down, push forward with no apologies, and bite my lower lip feeling the pain" of the law abiding black citizens who live in these violent communities while at the same time condemning illegal and violent behavior by law enforcement.

There may be a second life for O'Malley after all if he plays the spin right.





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