Vatzian Introduction of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich 4/29/2010 at Towson University

[Text of introduction of Robert L. Ehrlich to my Persuasion and Media Criticism classes today…some of the people expected did not come, and some of those not mentioned did come. Richard E. Vatz]

I first want to say, as I have for the 17 years or so that Gov. Robert Ehrlich has accepted 2 invitations a year to speak to my advanced Persuasion class, what a pleasure and honor it is to have him grace with his presence Towson University, the finest public university in Maryland, and I am particularly proud to have him speak today since he is now an announced candidate for governor of the state of Maryland, a position he held from the years 2003-2007, when Maryland had at least some semblance of a two-party system. I also want to assure the Governor that his audience today is composed of Towson’s finest students, including my advanced classes in Media Criticism and Persuasion. I made my usual effort to hide the fact that you were my guest speaker, Governor, but all week I keep hearing from students, “Hey, Vatz, I hear Gov. Ehrlich is coming to your class on the 29th.”

Before I go into my introductory remarks, let me welcome some local celebrities who have joined us, and I shall go through the list quickly, because I don’t know for certain who actually made it – please forgive me if I have missed you: Gov. Ehrlich’s retinue – from the Governor’s firm at Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, we have Greg Massoni, communication consultant and his wife, Chris Massoni, Executive Assistant to Governor Ehrlich, spokesman Henry Fawell, and Elaine Pevenstein, former special assistant and campaign adviser to the Governor, as well as the Governor’s counsel, David Hamilton, Massonian confidant David Lurz and former aide Carl DeLorenzo; we have also John Kastner, head of the MCOM/COMM Board of Advisers; Merrie Street, candidate for Harford County’s Register of Wills to the State Elections Board; Jung-Sook Lee, my exquisitely excellent department chair; Phyllis Brotman of the Board of Visitors, Jenn Ballengee, best president ever of the Towson AAUP, Tim Sullivan, one of the best presidents of the Towson Senate, several of our top deans, our top faculty, [Molly Shock, chair of the capital campaign, Kim Fabian, President of the Alumni Association, Jennifer Pawlo-Johnston, Director of Alumni Services], and presidential adviser Jen Gajewski, and the president sends his regrets, as he could not come; I do not believe the Governor’s sons, Drew and Joshua, are here, but neither of them sent me an e-mail, so I cannot be sure. Finally, regarding someone else who could not come, the exquisite Chancellor of the UM System, Brit Kirwan, who is speaking at a conference in D.C. today, told me to give you specifically his warmest regards and apologies.

We have also a variety of excellent Electronic and Print Journalists from around the State and District of Columbia. In addition, some of my other colleagues from this great university are here as well, including faculty, administration and staff.

I invited various top media and top columnists, and my absolute favorite columnist, Gregory Kane from the Washington Examiner is here, and I must say that more of them were interested once you announced your candidacy

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But the main question, Governor, that I hear regarding your candidacy, is why you should anticipate the possibility of a result different from your loss to the current Governor 4 years ago.

There are significant political environmental differences from 2006, which this Persuasion class and Media Criticism class might find interesting:

The unexpected news this year is that the primary print source of news, The Baltimore Sun, has undergone nothing short of a major journalistic transformation since 2006 when not one kind word was allowed on the op-ed page of the Sun that entire election year and letters were printed at a nine-to-1 ratio against a sitting Governor. Today there are regular conservative op-ed writers, the letters are more balanced and the reportage is – so far at least – right down the middle. Even a Sun editorial brought up the fact that highly successful global security giant Northrop Grumman’s headquarters are going to Virginia and the point that if the election focuses on the Reaganesque question, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago,” the Democrats are in some trouble.

In the field of rhetoric and persuasion we speak of what the agenda and spin will be in an election campaign. There is always a rhetorical battle to determine what issues will be discussed and what their significance is. Most of us are hoping this election year will not be focused on the George Bush presidency or even whether you or Governor O’Malley should give up your radio shows.

For more relevant issues, it should not surprise anyone that the former Governor and the current Governor’s agenda and interpretations for this race will be quite different on issues in addition to those mentioned above, such as the Maryland state budget, whether Maryland is now perceived widely as anti-business and anti-small business, unemployment, speed cameras, the death penalty, the increase in the state sales tax and income taxes, and state aid to counties and help for Catholic Schools.

Here to solve all of those problems, I present to my Persuasion and Media Criticism classes and ask for a Towson University warm welcome for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich.

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