Volume 14, Issue 42 ~ October 19 - October 25, 2006


The Wire: Where Life Imitates Art?

You could understand why Martin O’Malley was a tad dismissive in our Bay Weekly gubernatorial interviews this month when we asked him about The Wire, HBO’s gritty, profane, cinema verite series about life on Baltimore streets.

David Simon, the former Sun reporter who created The Wire (as well as The Corner and Homicide, all set in Baltimore) had mentioned in a recent gathering that O’Malley hadn’t been too keen on The Wire — even though it generates millions of dollars of income for Maryland’s largest city, where it and its ancestors have been shot.

O’Malley said he is eager for the day when The Wire depicts the positive sides of Baltimore, not just the drug violence and the corruption. And unlike Gov. Robert Ehrlich, he hasn’t seen the show for years.

We’re assuming, then, he doesn’t know that in this week’s episode, Tommy Carcetti won Baltimore’s mayoral primary. Who would have thought a white candidate could become mayor these days in heavily African American Baltimore? Wait … that’s what O’Malley did.

This season’s show has as its focus, or perhaps as its undercurrent, Baltimore’s troubled schools. If you’re watching the gubernatorial campaign, you know that Ehrlich is hammering O’Malley on the shame of Baltimore schools and tarring him for alleged corruption among Baltimore police.

By the way, Ehrlich counts The Wire as one of his favorite television programs. (We’re hoping the kids have been long tucked into bed.)

But the governor might not have enjoyed the current episode, in which the incumbent gets bounced from office.

Which gets us to the real election campaign. For those of us who don’t blanch at murderous behavior and the crudest of language, The Wire offers some lessons in realpolitik.

We’re speaking of brutal racial politics, fat-cat contributors, scurrilous campaign tactics and walkin’ ’round money passed out like Jujubes. Not to mention citizens who don’t know or care that it’s Election Day.

Then comes the thrill of upset victory, wild election parties and a winner who may or may not have a clue about what to do in office.

For candidates and reporters, that’s politics as usual. For voters in the know, this election season is a really good show.

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