The Dwyer affair: all it’s cracked up to be?

I’ve sort of reserved judgment on this whole “drinking and boating” affair with Delegate Don Dwyer; while others have gleefully pointed out the Delegate’s various foibles, the press coverage has seemed to paint a picture of the Delegate recklessly flying along the Magothy River, “drunkenly at the helm,” according to Annie Linskey in a Baltimore Sun story. Even Wikipedia now says that “he collided with another vessel.”

But if you’ll notice in the Linskey story, Delegate Neil Parrott claims Dwyer took evasive action. And there seems to be a growing amount of evidence that Dwyer, while admitting to be intoxicated, may not have been at fault. This was written by Sam Hale of the Maryland Society of Patriots:

Recent reports on the accident regarding Del. Don Dwyer’s boating accident are misleading when the full scope of the accident is examined.  Almost all of the reports regarding the accident have been written in such a manner to lead readers to believe that the Delegate was the sole cause of the unfortunate accident.  Some blogs have even reported that “Dwyer drunkenly steered his boat into a crowd of children.”

Though Delegate Dwyer has admitted to driving the boat after he had been drinking, an examination of photographs and a report of the accident shows that Dwyer’s boat may not have caused the “collision,” and that his boat was, in fact, struck on its lower, left side.   It should also be noted that the collision took place on the right side of the Magothy Channel, which means that Dwyer’s boat was traveling in its correct position and maneuvered to the right to avoid the oncoming boat.

The photographs, shown here, seem to show that the other boat ran into Dwyer’s craft from the side. It would be consistent with the reports that there were children ‘tubing’ behind the boat, which explains why the children were injured. It could very well be the other driver lost control and sideswiped the Dwyer boat.

Hale points out the double standard at work here:

With these points in mind, and without a complete investigation from the DNR, the calls for Dwyer’s resignation are both premature and hypocritical.  In 2007, when Democrat Delegate Kumar Barve was arrested for drunk driving, the case was hardly covered.  Speaker Busch backed Barve “100%” in 2007, saying “We’re like a family down here. You don’t turn your back on someone when they’ve made a mistake.” It is clear that Democrats in Maryland get completely different treatment from the media and their own party when they make similar mistakes.

Delegate Dwyer has taken responsibility for drinking before driving his boat in a very public admission.  But the media has taken this as an opportunity to lay blame on Dwyer for an accident that he may not have caused and may have happened regardless of his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.  Maryland journalists should report the full scope of Delegate Dwyer’s recent accident, in the same manner as they do when a Democrat makes similar mistakes, and allow the people of Maryland to form make their judgements outside of the media bias.

That sentiment is echoed by writer J. Doug Gill at Red Maryland, who also highlights the hypocrisy of Democrats and the press. Obviously Dwyer is contrite, saying in a statement:

No one, no one should be drinking and operating a motor vehicle or power boat. I deeply regret my actions and ask for forgiveness from the public.

Yet we haven’t heard calls for the other watercraft operator, Mark Harbin, to be more careful – after all, he had a boatload of children in his care and, it could be argued, was boating recklessly himself. Obviously this incident would be a one-day story if not for the involvement of the Delegate and would likely have been buried anyway if the Delegate in question wasn’t one who has stood for traditional marriage in the House of Delegates. Since that’s a politically incorrect position to take in this day and age there’s no compunction over assailing Delegate Dwyer for his misfortune, whether self-induced or not.

There’s no question that Democrats may see this as an opportunity to score political points – obviously that’s why some Republicans, like Delegate Nic Kipke, have called on Dwyer to “sincerely consider” resigning. But the Democrats were going to do this anyway knowing they had the tacit backing of most of the state’s media to run cover for them when they mess up, as we are all prone to do.

It’s become patently obvious that if Don Dwyer were more of a squishy Republican like Wade Kach there would be the general attitude of “well, he made a mistake but to err is human and to forgive is divine” for him. But standing up for the traditional family means he’ll be called a “hypocrite” because he stands for family values but made a lapse in judgment by drinking too much.

Assuming he decides to run again, in 2014 voters will decide whether to forgive Don Dwyer or not. But unless there’s something in the investigation which leads to a felony conviction Dwyer need not resign. The damage is done, so let’s allow the guy to heal himself and work on being a better person.

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