Martin O’Malley: More Pop Star Than Presidential Candidate?

Presidential hopeful and former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, stopped by Carl’s Place (a seedy looking, but lively and warm bar in Sherman Hill) last night to (host a mini concert?) and further engender his candidacy to Iowans.

Many bar patrons were confused about what was happening, despite the O’Malley signs posted all over and the youthful men and women holding clipboards and passing out stickers. When I learned that the governor would be hosting a pseudo rally at Carl’s, I thought it sounded like a harebrained scheme an intern suggested that, being the gregarious person that he is, O’Malley decided to run with.

There was probably a lot more thought behind it than that — it was a decidedly intimate setting to get his message across effectively (Well, as effective as you can discuss serious national policies with a room of imbibing adults after a full day of work). But it didn’t help that about 30 minutes into the event, one of his 20-something year old field organizers led the room into a really uncomfortable and juvenile cheerleader-style chant spelling the governor’s name. “Give me an O!” she yelped. “Oh no…” my side of the room thought. “Give me an apostrophe!” “Wouldn’t ‘air comma’ be less of a mouthful?” I inquired sarcastically. Someone sniggered. “Give me an M! Give me an A…”

Packed to the gills. See anyone you know?

After hanging out for an hour in what felt like the inside of a microwaved packet of compressed beans, O’Malley appeared amidst cheers. Looking hearty and hale, he greeted some and took a few selfies with folks as he strolled through the crowd shaking hands. When he got on the stage, he made a couple of jokes and gradually started undressing, slowly removing his jacket, then his tie. At this point, a woman somewhere whooped.

Governor O’Malley meeting bar patrons in Des Moines, Iowa.

As I stood there listening to the end of his stump, one of my friends yelled, “Free Bird!” Then, he pulls out the guitar and begins crooning something country as I rolled my eyes. This sort of event is not exactly what one would expect from a candidate who is not getting much attention (except from women?) and, though I admit I was very intrigued by him in the beginning, I’m not impressed as of late.

O’Malley really needs to jazz things up. And I don’t mean that literally; I think the guitar needs to go, actually. Unless he’s looking for a girlfriend (as many male politicians are wont to fall into such infidelities), I don’t see the point: you can’t literally serenade voters. I’m sorry to say that that’s not a real campaign strategy, guys. But at least he’s playing to his strengths: neither Bernie nor Hillary can sing. I mean, all they’ve got are years in Congress, impressive records in international diplomacy, and stellar state leadership. Ah, but, you know…guitar strumming is great, too. You go, boy.

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