In our time of national anxiety, Larry Hogan shows it’s possible to be a mentsch as well as a politician.
The Republican governor of Maryland has transcended politics at a time when we need someone calming us instead of injecting political slander, misinformation and lies into every public appearance.
He shows us he knows the difference between politics and people’s lives.
The coronavirus numbers continue to rise in America and around the world, but so far Hogan’s been ahead of the curve. He listened to the medical professionals, the scientists and the brainy people at the places like the Johns Hopkins institutions.
They told him when it was time to close the schools and the non-essential businesses, and the malls and the restaurants and the bars. He did it, and then he didn’t offer us any nonsense about reopening anything ahead of time because it might make political sense for him.
We’re all watching him from a distance now, from the enforced isolation of our homes, but we have the sense there’s someone operating with genuine empathy instead of political guile.
Hogan is only the fourth Republican governor of Maryland in the last 60 years, and arguably the only one most Marylanders can point to with pride since Theodore McKeldin.
(Spiro Agnew left Annapolis to serve as Richard Nixon’s vice president, and then had to resign from office for taking bribes. Robert Ehrlich, divisive and do-nothing for four years, was the only sitting governor in America who failed to get reelected in 2007.)
Hogan, now in his second term, has been a healer from the start. Partly, this is because he knew he was in a traditionally Democratic state, and partly because it’s his nature.
In either case, it’s why his poll numbers have consistently topped 70 percent, while President Trump’s have never reached 50 percent.
From the start of the Trump era, Hogan has been one of the few Republican leaders anywhere in America unafraid to disagree in public with this president who bristles at any disagreement and then finds avenues of retribution.
Trump, who took so long to acknowledge the dangers facing the country and then attempted to cover up his late start, now can’t seem to hold a news conference without tossing in some snide political slander or snipe at reporters or bend the very messages medical experts and scientists have been preaching.
In a time for transcending politics and pulling people from all persuasions together, we’ve been lucky in Maryland to have a grown-up in charge.
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” has just been reissued in paperback by the Johns Hopkins University Press.