The Irish were at it again on Sunday morning: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, liberal Democrat, sparring on Meet the Press with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, conservative Republican. Both chair their party’s governors association.
O’Malley was defending Vice President Joe Biden of the loose lips and McDonnell took up for the Republican vice presidential nominee designee, Rep. Paul Ryan of the tight budget.
Laura Vozzella at the Washington Post has a blow by blow of the rematch of the sparring partners whose states share 100 miles of the Potomac River. McDonnell was at a technical disadvantage, being telecast from a remote site with delayed audio feed that made him look hesitant.
No mention of Irish heritage
What was striking as the two men traded charges, facts, half-facts and accusations was that it was hardly to be remarked that the governors and the veep nominees they were defending were all of Irish Catholic heritage.
Millions of people over 60 can remember what a big deal it was when John F. Kennedy overcame his ostensible Catholicism 52 years ago to be become the first of his faith to hold the highest office. And now, it’s nary a big deal for two governors and two men running for vice president to share that common faith if not a common politics.
No doubt this observation was triggered by listening to Robert Caro’s just released fourth volume of his biography of Lyndon B. Johnson that covers the 1960 election in detail. Kennedy got elected and the pope did not pull the strings of a man who was hardly a model of religious devotion. For those under 50, that 1960 debate about religion must seem like a strange remnant of intolerance.
If Romney gets elected, it will likely have the same effect on Mormonism. In announcing his pick, Romney even referred to Ryan as “a faithful Catholic,” as if it were an asset. It is a term quite a few bishops might withhold for officeholders like O’Malley who support abortion rights and same-sex marriage.
Many progressive Catholics also want to deny that Ryan is a “faithful Catholic” for what they see as his budget attacks on the social safety net.
(Only McDonnell of the four is an alumnus of the “Fighting Irish” that odd nickname embracing a stereotype with a fists-up leprechaun mascot by the University of Notre Dame.)
Picking a fight on jobs
Leave it to Larry Hogan to get his Irish up with a press release late Sunday.
“O’Malley has no business going on national TV talking about the economy, especially with Gov. McDonnell who is pounding our state into submission on job creation,” said Hogan, the Republican founder of Change Maryland who gave O’Malley a bloody nose about jobs on national TV last month.
Fortunately, the focus of Meet the Press was on national unemployment numbers inching up in almost every state. Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers that said Maryland picked up a net 800 jobs in July, while Virginia gained a whopping 21,300.
Maryland’s unemployment rates went up to 7% from 6.9%, while Virginia’s rate rose to 5.9% from 5.7%.