Esquire magazine features Mayor Martin O'Malley on its cover as "the best young mayor in America" in an issue to be published Thursday that highlights "the best and brightest" in politics, culture, science and other fields.
In a long, gushing article that focuses mostly on O'Malley's talent for public relations, writer Robert Kurson sketches the mayor as a future presidential candidate with the charisma of John F. Kennedy.
"At his [O'Malley's] inauguration, the dashing O'Malley stood alongside his lovely wife and three children. ... From any angle, JFK had come to Baltimore," writes Kurson.
O'Malley is the second Baltimore mayor to be named best in the nation by the 730,000-circu- lation magazine. It put William Donald Schaefer on its cover in 1984, describing him as the architect of the city's renaissance but also as "Mayor Annoyed" for his short temper.
O'Malley said he was flattered by the profile, but he joked that it was so lengthy that his wife "threw it aside and said, 'It's too damn long.' That keeps you calm and centered," the mayor said yesterday.
The story describes O'Malley as "gorgeous," frenetic, explosive and foul-mouthed. It asserts that he ranks with scientist Eugene Chan, author Nicole Krauss, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and 37 other young innovators that the magazine believes will "revolutionize the world."
David Granger, editor of Esquire, said the magazine picked O'Malley, 39, over more established mayors such as Richard M. Daley of Chicago because the editors wanted to focus on "the next generation of leadership." Granger said he was impressed by O'Malley's "post-racial politics," which helped him win a plurality of black votes in a majority African-American city.
The piece is less flattering to O'Malley's political rivals.
It savages State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, against whom O'Malley launched a curse-laden diatribe in January when she dropped charges in a police corruption case.
"If there is a person in Baltimore who embodies the old-line culture of excuses, who represents the momentum of a body long at rest, it is Jessamy," Kurson writes.
While the story praises O'Malley as having the rhetorical flash of Robert F. Kennedy, it describes Kennedy's daughter, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, as someone who has "no Kennedy" in her because she "speaks in platitudes" and has "no real ideas, no soul."
"O'Malley could win this contest," the writer says of the gubernatorial election, which he considered but didn't enter.