6:00 AM EDT, August 19, 2013
If you have been watching the delightfully capable John Oliver make us forget Jon Stewart this summer on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, you know that he has been howling at the mainstream media to stop talking about 2016 until Mr. Stewart gets back. He only has a few weeks in the chair, he says, and he wants to talk about absolutely anything other than the presidential race.
So do we all, because we are still woozy from 2012.
The speculation is apparently unnecessary because supposedly the job is Hillary Clinton's if she wants it.
But the continued uncertainty — although among whom, I can't imagine — regarding Ms. Clinton's decision is keeping the rest of the Democratic hopefuls in suspended animation, including our own Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is spending the rest of this year letting his "soul catch up with his body" after power-walking his agenda, once again, through the Maryland General Assembly.
He has said he will take this time to decide whether to run for president, spending it reading and thinking and attending to his children and seeing if he truly has something to offer
"Just doing that important work that a human being has to do to be centered and present and make a rational decision on something this big and to do it for the right reasons and in the right way," he said over beers with political reporters while in Milwaukee for the National Governors Association meeting.
Nobody asked me — certainly Governor O'Malley didn't ask me — but I am going to say, don't do it.
I know that this thinking is not in the service of democracy, but I have come to believe that if you are running for president, you don't deserve my vote and you are not worthy of the job.
The 2012 presidential campaign, and especially the Republican primary debates, were so odious that I came away thinking that we should do this the way the Catholic cardinals elect a pope: If you actively campaign for the job, you won't be elected. Your ambition makes you unclean. You are not worthy of the holy power of the papacy if you are seen to be grasping for it.
I know I will be pilloried for this, but I actually like Governor O'Malley. As a person. Years ago, I was stage-side with the roadies in his band, O'Malley's March, during a gig, and he sat with us between sets and talked, with wonder in his voice, about a recent trip to Australia and all he had seen and learned.
He didn't know I was a writer for The Sun, and I did not write about that evening, but I was impressed by his enthusiastic thirst for learning new things and his contemplative nature, and I thought he was quite the decent guy.
But a decent guy wouldn't put his family through what it takes to be president.
Does he really want to have angry tea partiers talking about his wife's appearance or complaining that his children go to private schools or about the family's dog, the family's choice of vacation spots, or how his children don't deserve the expense of federal protection?
His opponents will ridicule his Catholic faith, just as they did Rick Santorum's. They will force him to twist his, I am thinking, dearly held social conscience into something that looks like the double helix until he doesn't know what he believes anymore and neither do we. And he will have to grub for money in the most unseemly ways.
Katie O'Malley, a bright and accomplished judge and outspoken in the cause of same sex marriage, repeal of the death penalty, bullying, high-school dropout rates and domestic violence, will be turned into a cartoon character during a series of formulaic profiles by women journalists, and I will probably have to write one of them.
His sons, in high school and middle school, are at critical points in their lives, and they need the firm hand of a father, not a gap year on a campaign bus. His daughters are just beginning their adult lives, and they should be able to count on him to help them make this transition.
Governor O'Malley is being urged to run, even if Ms. Clinton does, because he can be the straw horse to sharpen her during the primaries, and it will give him a national profile for a campaign in 2020. When I will again urge him not to run.
My advice, if he is asking, would be to get himself appointed as ambassador to Ireland, a job that has been vacant since Steelers owner Dan Rooney left in 2012, where his prayerful faith and his band would probably heal a lot of wounds.
Or get himself a job at the head of a Bill Gates-style non-profit where he will have the money and the clout to do the good that I think he wants to do.
Running for president is a soul-destroying power trip. Martin O'Malley can do better.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun