The Maryland Public Policy Institute
Maybe national television has gone to Gov. Martin O'Malley's head. It wouldn't be hard. The leader of the Democratic Governors Association is almost always treated like a rising star and 2016 presidential hopeful during his frequent appearances on talk shows stumping for President Barack Obama.
But the veneer of celebrity cannot prevent people from seeing truth when it smacks them in the face like the president's dour and uninspired performance during his debate with Republican Mitt Romney last week. The criticisms came flying fast and from all sides of the political spectrum. Chris Matthews, the MSNBC host who once admitted to feeling a "thrill going up my leg" after hearing Obama speak, ripped him apart after the debate.
He said Romney handled himself "just right ... what was Romney doing tonight? He was winning! If he does five more of these, forget it! That's my thought."
O'Malley's analysis, on the other hand, made it seem as if he were watching some other debate. "President Obama handled himself with a dignified reserve that we've all seen as part of who President Obama is," he said in one interview of many where he defended the president's performance.
Liberal comedian Jon Stewart thought O'Malley's remarks were so funny he created a segment -- "Polish that turd" -- for them.
That was not his only break with reality last week.
In a news conference called to talk about the state's power grid, he unleashed a torrent of criticism against Penn National Gaming and its CEO for advertising that new tax revenue from expanded gambling in the state would not be used for education.
He called their ads "a bunch of West Virginia casino hooey" and said they amount to "falsehoods and lies."
He's right that Penn National stands to lose a lot of money if state residents stop going to the company's Charles Town, W.Va., casino in favor of a proposed one in Prince George's County. But the truth is public schools will not see millions more in new revenue from an extra casino and table games in the state as proponents make it seem because money from casinos will just replace what used to come from the general fund.
Besides, all evidence points to the fact that the market is saturated or close to it. Revenue at Hollywood Casino Perryville (owned by Penn National) is down 36 percent from a year ago while the Casino at Ocean Downs is up less than 5 percent over the same time period. Maryland Live, which opened in Anne Arundel County in June, is doing well, but total casino revenue in the state is down for the second straight month. So, a new casino may make money, but it will likely come at the expense of those already operating in the state -- hardly a ringing endorsement for Question 7 on the ballot in November.
For too long O'Malley has been able to operate as if reality were a choice. If he continues to gloss over facts, however, an unflattering portrayal by Jon Stewart will be the least of the ambitious politician's worries.