Scott’s post, “The Unmaking of a Mayor,” directs our attention to the stunning exchange between Fox News Channel’s Leland Vittert and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake during her weekly press conference. Vittert was pressing Rawlings-Blake on whether the wave of shootings that has plagued Baltimore is related to the sharp decline in arrests.
Rawlings-Blake looked like a deer in the headlights. I almost wanted to find her a “safe space” and some Play-Doh.
Trying to buy time, the mayor said, “I am not 100 percent sure what you’re doing.” When Vittert responded that, as a journalist, he was asking a question of the mayor, Rawlings-Blake found her way out:
You’re not. You’re being rude, just like you were before. So if you would like to ask a question and give me an opportunity to answer, we can do this. Otherwise, I will end the conference.
Ah, the rudeness card. It shuts down discussion on college campuses; why not at City Hall?
There was a time when the mayor was the toughest SOB in town, out-and-out gangsters excluded. Think of Chicago’s Mayor Daley, Philadelphia’s Mayor Rizzo, or (in more recent times) New York’s Rudy Giuliani.
Modern liberalism hasn’t produced their like, but it has produced mayors who could hold their own, or better, with the press. In Washington, Marion Barry always gave at least as good as he got. In Baltimore, Martin O’Malley didn’t respond to questions by wondering what the questioner was “doing” or by threatening to take his marbles and go home because the questioner was “rude.”
Does Rawlings-Blake represent a new, pathetically weak breed of big city mayors? I don’t follow urban politics closely enough to say.
But Rawlings-Blake has been an up-and-comer. She is Secretary of the Democratic National Committee and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
I’m hard pressed to explain Rawlings-Blake’s rise to prominence. However, I may be able to explain why ninnies like her might well have a prominent place in Democratic politics going forward.
Colleges, as I have alluded to twice in this post, have been permitting students to hide from and/or shut down debate with conservatives. Thus, they are producing fewer and fewer liberals capable of arguing with conservatives.
Perhaps more importantly, they are producing more and more voters who don’t expect politicians to do so. Thus, we shouldn’t be shocked if it becomes acceptable to dodge tough questions on the ground that the questioner is “rude.” Or at least okay for women, and especially women of color, to do so.
It has always been assumed that political debate should be a bit rough-and-tumble and that journalists should ask tough questions. But then, it was once assumed that academic debate should be vigorous, with all sides represented and no begging off for hurt feelings.
I think I see the future, and it looks distressingly like Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. And in that future, I detect chaos that conceivably could bring back more “diverse” versions of Richard Daley and Frank Rizzo.