A story blew up in Maryland this week, that’s already put a charge in to next year’s race for Governor. Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler was photographed at a large house-party in Delaware, where there was a copious amount of teenage drinking going on. His son was there, and his original statement was that he came in to briefly speak with his son, didn't notice any under-aged drinking. He told the Baltimore Sun that even if there was, he didn't feel it was his place to do anything about it. The quote:
“Assume for the purposes of discussion that there was widespread drinking at this party. How is that relevant to me? … The question is, do I have any moral authority over other people’s children at beach week in another state? I say no.”
|Gansler is near the center, in a white shirt, holding out his cell phone.|
Gansler also disputed charges that he was taking a cell phone picture. He said he “was actually looking at a text message, because I’m 50 years old and can’t read, so I was holding it out.”
To that, this 52-year old says, “Word,” although other partygoers say he was there for quite some time, and took a number of pictures and videos with his son.
What isn't disputed is that he was one of the organizers of this adult-chaperoned party (see the two dudes in the upper right corner of the picture), with ground rules. (No hard liquor, no boys and girls behind closed doors.)
Now, just to clarify, I really don’t know anything about his qualifications to be governor, nor do I know much about his opponent. I figure I’ll cross those bridges when I come to them next year. So as yet, I don’t have a dog in this fight.
I just wonder if this is something that should derail a bid for office. I mean, there are two levels here… his role as a political leader, and his role as a father and responsible citizen.
First of all, I look at my upbringing. I hosted a bunch of parties, just like that one. (Only more “Barn,” and less “Beach House.”) Well, my parents technically “hosted” the parties. It was their house and their barn, and they often provided the beer and wine. Sure, I was older; we didn't have our first Barn Party until I was out of high school, but my brother and sister weren't, and neither were their friends or our neighbors.
So I’m not really one of those “Never let a teenager drink” people. I see the value in having a good time, but keeping some supervision so that things don’t get out of hand. And always collecting keys at the door, so that there are no tragedies to wake up to. At our parties, the only tragedies were spilled beer and spats between boyfriends and girlfriends.
I can state categorically, that if that were me, there’s no way I would have went in there and busted up the party or tried to curtail the drinking. I agree that it wouldn't be my place to try to “parent” anyone but my own kid.
I don’t know that I could have, even if I wanted to. What am I going to do, run around and take the drink out of everyone’s hand? That’s a good way to get your ass kicked by a group of teenage boys.
The alternative would be to call the cops, to a party I had a hand in planning. Again, I would not be “that guy.” Teens will drink, and I believe laying down a total ban will make it that much more attractive later. And I’m not going to risk getting a bunch of kids tangled up with The Law, over having a couple of beers and partying on.
All of this, I’m saying as a regular guy. (And not even as a parent, obviously.) So what about as a politician? In technical terms, he’s right; he has no jurisdiction in another state. But politically, it’s a major PR hit. Common sense and politics rarely go hand in hand. He’s the Attorney General, Maryland’s top law enforcement officer. It just doesn't look good to be seen as anything but “Law and Order, Law and Order, Law and Order.”
It will be interesting to see how this shakes out next November. But what I really want to know is what do YOU think? What would you do if you were him, only as a regular civil non-servant? Do you bust up the party and pull your kid out? Do you call the cops? Do you hang out and supervise? Do you have a few beers yourself?
And what if you did have political aspirations? Does that change your actions?
Inquiring Bluzdudes want to know.