Who says politicians are honest?

The Maryland General Assembly is bringing in the former chief of staff for First Lady Michelle Obama to conduct sexual harassment prevention training for 188 lawmakers and their staffs.

One piece of Michael Dresser’s portrait of Maryland in his reflections of his coverage of the State House for almost 22 years is cause for comment (“Michael Dresser's Annapolis: The more things change, the more they remain the same,” Dec. 5).

I preface my remarks with good wishes to Mr. Dresser in his retirement. Having said that, I take issue with his assessment that “most of Maryland’s politicians are honest, decent people trying to serve their communities as best as they know how — Republicans and Democrats.”


First, what does Mr. Dresser mean by the word “most?” For discussion purposes, let’s say 300 is an approximate number of people in the state legislature he has covered over the past 22 years. If 151 were honest and 149 did not meet the criteria, is the term “most” really relevant?

Secondly, what does Mr. Dresser mean by the word honest? Suppose a governor responded to Mr. Dresser’s question, “Why are you seeking the office?” with the response, “Honestly, I have chosen a career as a politician because I love power, fame, and money.” While this might be an honest and truthful answer, is this the type of politician we want serving our state?

Third, what does he mean by the phrase, “best as they know how?” Does this give career politicians the right of way to collect campaign contributions (which I believe are disguised bribes) and become subject to the influence of money? Does it allow the politician to make glittering promises during the campaign that only become empty words once assuming office? To me, stretching the truth or misleading citizens does not qualify as best as they know how, nor is it honest.

Fourth, Mr. Dresser used Mike Royko’s comment about Chicago aldermen in reference to politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — who need to be watched like puppies on a new rug. Is that the quality of a politician we should respect and admire? I believe the reporter’s job is not only to watch, but also to report on the deception, half-truths, cunning and manipulative skills of shrewd career politicians who exploit their constituents.

I hope the case will be that Mr. Dresser’s replacement will be more aggressive and determined to enlighten the readers about what really goes on in the dirty business of politics today in Maryland.

Ralph Jaffe, Baltimore