Memorial Day has passed, beaches are open and so are the paperbacks. The time has come to make serious decisions about what to read.
Here are my suggestions for the top leaders from our region: Governor Martin O’Malley (MD), Governor Bob McDonnell (VA) and Mayor Vince Gray (DC).
O’Malley is all-in on equality. Earlier this year he signed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. Soon thereafter, opponents launched an initiative to undo O’Malley’s work at the ballot box. It now appears as though voters will decide the fate of same-sex marriage in November. With O’Malley eyeballing a potential presidential bid in 2016, the fate of marriage equality in Maryland is likely to say a lot about his political potency.
My suggested reading for O’Malley: All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, by Paula Broadwell and Vernon Loeb. In his review of the book, David Gergen wrote: “Teddy Roosevelt once said that it is not enough to be intelligent; a leader must also be honest and fearless.” O’Malley needs to be all three if he hopes to preserve equality in Maryland and set the stage for a national run in the years ahead.
McDonnell has had a tough 2012. He came under national fire from women’s groups and liberals for supporting a law that would mandate an ultrasound examination before abortion. In the end McDonnell hammered out a compromise that placated his conservative base and limited damage with swing voters and some women. All of this transpired at a time when McDonnell’s star had been rising in the veepstakes. He is still in the running, but might now be a long shot. Keep in mind, though, Virginia is a key swing state and McDonnell stood by a foundering Mitt Romney in South Carolina when the candidate needed him the most.
My recommendation for McDonnell: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray. A “classic guide to understanding the opposite sex.” When McDonnell finishes the book he can share it with Romney who needs the support of women if his quest for the White House is to be successful.
Gray has been under fire from almost the very first day he set foot in office. His 2010 mayoral campaign delivered him the job, but now has become a ball and chain firmly shackled to his ankle. Guilty pleas from two key campaign aides are the most recent reminder that an ongoing Federal probe into District politics has yet to claim its last victim. When the scandal first surfaced Gray professed his innocence and called for an investigation. Now, under the advice of attorney, he is silent.
My pick for Gray: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. In the author’s own words, “the bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and, ultimately, happiness.” Gray needs to convince the media and his critics that silence is golden. Reminding the press that “we undervalue introverts” and pointing out “how much we lose in doing so” is an antithetical communications strategy. But other than riding out the storm, it might be the last tool Gray has in the shed.
Chuck Thies is a political analyst and consultant. His columns appear every Tuesday and Thursday on First Read DMV. He co-hosts "DC Politics" on WPFW, 89.3 FM. Since 1991, Chuck has lived in either D.C., Maryland or Virginia. Email your tips and complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at @chuckthies.