Friday, December 30, 2016


Political hack:

A politician who belongs to a small clique that controls a political party for private rather than public ends, (

A negative term ascribed to a person who is part of the political party apparatus, but whose intentions are more aligned with victory than personal conviction. (Wikipedia)

I'm pondering the meaning of the term political hack this morning as I read Fatimah Waseem's article in the Howard County Times. Entitled, "Howard County Council seeks 'sanctuary' status ahead of Trump presidency" it outlines the goals of the proposal and gets reactions from key leaders in the community.

This comment from Councilman Greg Fox leapt off the page:

"Regardless of the bill's intent, Calvin Ball is showing a very poor pattern of behavior and that he is nothing more than a partisan political hack," Fox said.

Good grief, Mr. Fox. Did you leave your Civility in your other pants?

It must be quite a trial to be the only Republican on the County Council. Mr. Fox must have to bite his tongue a lot. Apparently the day of this interview was not that day. 

While there are arguments to be made on either side of the sanctuary issue, and Mr. Fox is welcome to make the case for his own point of view, that's not what he did here. He seized the moment to make a personal attack on Calvin Ball. 

Who's looking partisan now?

Dr. Ball's response is an exercise in self-restraint:

"There are times when my Republican friends disagree, however, I believe leaders should lead," he said.

This reminds me of my favorite line in all of Shirley Temple's films, where her character looks up at a wealthy socialite and says,

It's too bad, Mary Ann, that your mother didn't bring you up to be a nicer girl.

Perhaps Councilman Fox was just having a bad day. That can happen to anyone. And at least he's putting his opinion right out there with his name on it, rather than posting anonymous comments on local websites. There is that.

It remains to be seen how the Council can move forward on this and have meaningful dialogue after Mr. Fox has essentially called Dr. Ball a "stupidhead" in the press. (Yes, I'm a preschool teacher. Yes, I know this behavior when I see it.)

Perhaps these two have forged a working relationship which allows for these kinds of public shenanigans. I really don't know. 

The fact remains that, if you have a really good argument, it isn't necessary to resort to personal attacks. That goes for representatives of either party. And if you choose to make the personal attack, it reflects more on you than on the object of your derision. 


In case anyone needs me to spell it out: this post is not about the merits of the sanctuary proposal. It is about how what we say matters, and how words have consequences. Should anyone choose to respond, please keep that in mind. Thanks. -- jam

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