It Ain’t Easy Being Baltimore. But Don’t Give Up Hope.
Trump tweets shine a harsh light on an old favorite city.
It ain’t easy being Baltimore. The capital of the entire free world is 25 minutes down the parkway. You’re the older brother who had to sit and watch as his baby sibling became captain of the football team, homecoming queen and CEO of the most profitable and powerful enterprise in human history.
Consider even Baltimore’s finest hour. The War of 1812. British troops roll into Washington and everyone but Dolly Madison panics. Everyone flees. Little brother wimps out. White House, the Capitol and much of Washington burns to the ground. The big, bad British then head your way. You don’t run. You take them on. There’s even a song about the onslaught. Perhaps you’ve heard it. “Rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air.” But you hang tough. You take the Brits’ best punch. And come morning “the flag was still there.” The American flag. So where’s your tattered Star-Spangled Banner now? It’s down in Washington!
Your greatest trophy is hanging on your kid brother’s shelf.
It ain’t easy being Baltimore. For decades the city gave its heart and soul and sweat to its beloved Baltimore Colts. And what happens? One snowy night in 1984 the owner Robert Irsay secretly slips the team out of town. Literally, tractor-trailers in the middle of the night in a near blizzard. An unsuspecting Baltimore wakes up to discover its NFL team has vanished, gone to Indianapolis. Indianapolis!
The pain is still felt decades later.
You want to know about Baltimore? It would name its new NFL team after the title character in a horror story.
You want to know about today’s Baltimore? The once fabulous and fabled Baltimore Orioles franchise has been run into the ground by its owner, Peter Angelos. Angelos has even pushed away the great Cal Ripken.
It’s no coincidence Angelos made his fortune as a big money Democratic lawyer. What was once great has been turned to ruin.
Which brings us to President Trump’s tough assessment of Baltimore and critique of Rep. Elijah Cummings.
For nearly three years, Rep. Elijah Cummings has been more interested in costing Trump his job than creating jobs for his depressed district. Trump finally had enough.
Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2019
He declared Cumming’s district in Baltimore “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” a “very dangerous & filthy place.”
For highlighting what parts of Baltimore have undeniably become, Trump was naturally declared a racist. Let’s get that nonsense out of the way really quick.
Baltimore is in Bad Shape
One: What does pointing out obvious conditions on the ground have to do with color? Nothing. After all …
Two: Before she had to resign in disgrace, former Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh herself talked about the rats and “dead animals” plaguing her city. Pugh, for the record, is African-American.
Three: Bernie Sanders compared Baltimore to a “Third World” nation, a “disgrace” where “hundreds of buildings are uninhabitable.” Nobody called him a racist. So clearly this claptrap against Trump is political.
Four: Baltimore has become very dangerous. In 2017, Baltimore had the highest murder rate of any city with over 500,000 people. 343 people were murdered. In fact, you probably couldn’t hear it over the weeping and gnashing of teeth on CNN, but at least 5 people were shot, 3 killed just on Saturday alone. Murders are up 80% so far this year. I’d be disappointed if a president didn’t get ticked off at local leaders and their congressional representatives. “What the blank are you people doing over there?!”
Well, we know what they’re doing.
Corrupt and Inept
Five: Baltimore’s Democratic leadership is corrupt and inept. Yes, CNN and MSNBC are yelling and screaming and weeping about Trump’s tweets. But how many of their viewers know Mayor Pugh was just forced to resign because of corruption? She used a crooked book deal to line her pockets. (Interestingly, a day before going after Cummings, Trump was talking about investigating Obama’s book deals.)
As National Review’s Martha Rossberg wrote in April, “The saga of Mayor Catherine Pugh is just the tip of the iceberg.” Rossberg’s article is titled, “Baltimore Suffers After Decades of Mismanagement.” The New York Times ran a similar article in March, subtitled “The crack-up of a major American city.” Both articles tell a tale of horror that would make native son Edgar Allan Poe’s skin crawl.
While we’re on the subject of corruption, what about Cummings himself? How many know Cummings and his wife Maya Rockeymoore are currently under investigation, accused of using her charity for “illegal private benefit”?
Rockeymoore’s Center for Global Policy Solutions came under scrutiny earlier this year after the Washington Examiner reported the “foundation had accepted millions of dollars from corporations and special interest groups with business before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.” That’s the committee headed by Cummings. So I guess his committee isn’t spending all its time on investigating Trump.
But Wait, There’s More
Six: Trump’s comments are nothing new. Read The Art of the Deal. He said virtually the same thing about New York City back in the ’70s … before he set out to revitalize Manhattan. Nobody called him a racist. His efforts to help bring the Big Apple back made him a media hero.
Seven: Trump’s being called a racist because Cummings is black. Again, so the meme goes, Trump is attacking a person of color. He launched a similar attack on Mayor Pete Buttigieg a few weeks ago. A man so lily white he makes Anderson Cooper look like Snoop Dogg. For that matter, he said nearly the exact same thing about Nancy Pelosi’s district last January. “And by the way, clean up the streets of San Francisco. They’re disgusting.”
It’s a request he repeated Sunday morning.
Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizeable lately. Something must be done before it is too late. The Dems should stop wasting time on the Witch Hunt Hoax and start focusing on our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2019
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was among those who jumped on Trump for his “racist attack” on Cummings. As it happens, Pelosi is a Baltimore native. Daughter of the former mayor, in fact. I dare Pelosi to walk the streets of her childhood and tell me things are better than they were in her day. Or even 10 years ago, when Obama pumped an extra $1.8 billion into the city.
I understand she can’t do that walk today. She’s currently enjoying a junket to Italy and a six week vacation instead of dealing with issues like the crisis at the border and “crack-up” of her old hometown.
From Mobtown to Charm City
Baltimore has had several nicknames. The two most prominent being “Charm City” and “Mobtown.”
Today, as the president has brought to the forefront, Baltimore is ruled by crime, violence and corruption. But it doesn’t have to continue being Mobtown.
Charm City is again possible. I’ve seen it before.
When I was young, the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore was a dump. A wasteland of rotting warehouses and piers. The city decided to do something about it. A massive revitalization effort was launched. The result? Baltimore Inner Harbor. I best remember the two pavilions of restaurants and shops set along the water. We would often travel up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway for a day of fun and food. Maybe hit the aquarium. My more party-oriented pals rocked out at the Power Plant.
The epitome came in 1992 with the opening of the amazing Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. Does your favorite team now play in an old style park rather than some cookie-cutter, sterile stadium? Rangers, Indians, Phillies, Padres fans, you know what I’m talking about. Credit Camden Yards, “The ballpark that forever changed baseball.” Or at least reminded baseball of its roots and beauty.
Camden Yards is Baltimore. Lovingly built by the city’s blue collar craftsman. Quirky. The official name is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Nobody in Baltimore calls it that. Historic. Babe Ruth’s father ran a bar out in what is now center field. Slugger Boog Powell runs a barbecue place outside the right field pavilion.
Camden Yards is so special there was actually a train running from DC to bring in fans in from Washington. Including fans who wouldn’t even go to the game, but would hang out in the nearby sports bars just to soak up the scene.
The Flag Still Flies
Baltimore came back. It got smart, gave its heart and broke a sweat. And the results were glorious. I gotta believe Baltimore can rise again.
As a kid who still wears #5 on my softball uniform in honor of Oriole great Brooks Robinson, who believes Phillip’s Crab Soup is the closest thing on earth to liquid heaven, who can’t pass through the Ft. McHenry tunnel without saluting the heroism displayed in that harbor, I have to to have hope.
Despite the bombardment of bad policies and political neglect, however tattered and bloody the flag may be, it still flies over Baltimore.
Al Perrotta is Managing Editor of The Stream. And once ordered Phillip’s crab soup at Camden Yards on a day with the temperature about 95 with 95% humidity. And would do so again today.