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Hogan is popular because he governs well, not because he does what's popular

Gov. Larry Hogan has announced that Maryland's public schools will open their doors after Labor Day in future school years.

The American writer Ambrose Bierce defined a hypocrite as "one who professes virtues that he does not respect and secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises."

In a self-righteous critique of Gov. Larry Hogan's executive order to start schools after Labor Day, Del. Eric Luedtke, my liberal Democratic colleague, divides politicians into two types: "panderers" and "courage politicians" ("Hogan and Franchot: Profiles in pandering," Sept. 2).

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Panderers, he says, "will say or do anything to make themselves more popular. … They ignore the fact that making public policy is enormously complex, avoid discussion of unintended consequences of their actions, dodge tough questions and attack those who dare stand up to them."

On the other hand, courage politicians, he says, "believe strongly in doing what's right, even if it hurts them politically."

Not surprisingly, my colleague implied that he and like-minded politicians, such as Democratic House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, are courage politicians while Republican Governor Hogan and Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot are "panderers."

Of course, if personal attacks define a "panderer" it's difficult for the person hurling such an insult to wear the mantle of "courage politician."

That leads us to a third type of politician: the hypocrite, most commonly found among strident partisans in both parties. Hypocrite politicians are so blinded by partisanship they can no longer perceive the contradictions and purposeful deceptions of their arguments and actions. They can't help themselves. They prevaricate, exaggerate, and shade the truth, with utter sincerity.

That is exactly what my liberal friend did. Not only when he engaged in the kind of personal attacks he professes to despise but also when he claimed Mr. Hogan issued the executive order simply because, "he'll do anything to make himself more popular" — instead of addressing the clearly stated rationale that it would help to ensure the health and comfort of students in schools without air conditioning and that it would boost Maryland's economy by giving families a longer summer break.

Nor did Mr. Luedtke mention that school boards could apply for waivers to the executive order if it was burdensome. And he shaded the truth when he said that poor students "would have to wait longer to get the free breakfasts and lunches they rely on" yet failed to note that, either way, they're still going to get 180 days of free breakfast and lunch.

He also failed to note that parents will still be paying for the same amount of child care when their kids are out of school, because there are still going to be exactly 180 days of school.

Mr. Luedtke's arguments against the governor's "abuse" of executive authority, and for the complete local control of schools, are equally hypocritical. Where was the outrage among his "courage politicians" when President Barack Obama issued the executive order setting aside congressionally enacted immigration laws on deportation?

Mr. Hogan's executive order doesn't countermand or violate any law. In fact, the legislature's failure to act after a 2014 nonpartisan commission recommended school start after Labor Day was what gave rise to the governor's action.

And if local control of school boards is "a basic American value that's been a guiding principle of education since schools were started," isn't President Obama violating the same principle with his executive order regarding use of school bathrooms by transgender students? Somehow I missed the outcry against the violation of this "guiding principle" by his "courage politicians."

I support the governor's executive order, but I also recognize there are valid concerns on both sides of the issue. There are ways, through either Mr. Hogan's executive order or through legislative action, to address them. That's the way our system works.

In the meantime, partisans blind to their own hypocrisy might remember that the best politics is good government and that perhaps Mr. Hogan is popular because he governs well, not simply because he does what is popular.

Herb McMillan, Annapolis

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The writer, a Republican, represents Annapolis in the Maryland House of Delegates.

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