Marvin Mandel could always work it out. That was the essence of the man. He would find a compromise, a deal, an argument or a weakness and he would emerge temper intact, shirt tucked in, never an outward sign of doubt.
That is how Mandel moved from the clubhouses of northwest Baltimore to the governor's mansion in Annapolis. That is how he dealth with his legislative colleagues with the special interest groups who wanted more from him and with his political adversaries.
"We'll work it out," he would tell those around him, placing his feet up on his office desk, sucking slowly on his pipe and gazing toward the ceiling, the picture of confidence.
Whatever the outcome of his trial was to be, it became clear months ago that it was one situation that could not be "worked out," that the damage had been done and the techniques that made Mandel a master of survival were of no sue.
"After four years of investigation and two years under indictment," Arnold M. Weiner. Mandel's lawyer, told the jury before it deliberated. "Marvin Mandel is a ruined man. His public career, which was his entire adult life, is finished. Every intimate detail of his personal life has been opened up for the world to see . . . Even his health and his strength are gone.
"And nothing you can do can restore any of those things."
The trial revealed two distinct sides of Marvin Mandel. He was indeed the busy governor back in the early 1970s, as he told the jury, conferring with advisers, reviewing legislation, giving speeches, receiving honarary degrees and managing a multibillion-dollar budget. Everyone knew that side.
Another side was less familiar: that of the unemotional Marvin Mandel, famous for never displaying his feelings or showing his hand, suddenly doing all those things described in the evidence, taking all that risk and leaving all those tracks for a matter of the heart: a woman.
The contrast was mirrored to some extent in his two administrations, 1970 to 1974 and 1975 to the present.
During his first term as governor, Mandel worked hard - he ate sandwiches at his deks and shaved at the office - and pushed through a submissive legislature a host of progressive laws, all without rasing taxes.
He streamlined state agencies; imposed a strict handgun law; created the nation's first state-run auto insurnace runaway hospital costs; established a statewide, uniform lower court system; agreed to help Washington and Baltimore build subways, and shifted costs of school construction to the state.
It was a fast-moving period he told the jury in his trial. 'My day would start about 7:30 with meetings, breakfast meetings and then about 9 going over to the office. The reason I would have those meetings in the manson and then go over to the office was because by 9 o'clock the phone starts ringing, and one the phone starts ringing your day becomes totally tied up with your appointments, telephone calls constantly.
"The day woudl run . . . until about 8 in the evening, except when the legislature was in session and then it would run to 12 o'clock."
He boasted then, accurately, about his administration's success with the General Assembly and he would display a "scorecard" at the end of each session showing his high batting average.
A skilled technician of the legislative process, he would know all the likes and dislikes, the whims and fancies of almost every legislator and would cater to theM.
For example, he would go duck hunting on the first day of the season with Sen. Frederick C. Malkus, the arch-conservative Eastern Shore legislator with enormous potential to obstruct legislation. The hunting was the best form of lobbying, he knew. "It was very important to Freddie," Mandel would explain. It was also very important to Mandel.
If he had deep philosophical convictions or emotions about his work, they were submerged in his overriding concern for a consensus. Asked in 1973 in the context of long-range dreams what he most hoped to accomplis as governor the nuts-and-bolts Mandel answered: "I want the state to buy Friendship Aiport." Which, of course, it did and renamed it Baltimore-Washington International.
He won the admiration of his fellow governors, who elected him chairman of the National Governors Conference.
He meticuously attended to Democratic Party affairs, appeasing warring political factions at both the state and county levels.
A political squabble in Harford County, for example, was settled with a classic Mandel Deal. County Commission Chairman Thomas J. Hatem was threatening to run against State Senate President William S. James in the 1970 Democratic primary. Mandel got Hatem to settle for the job of state insurance commissioner, and then persuaded the incumbent in that post. Newton Steers, to move out by promoting him to an assistant secretary's position in the Mandel cabinet with a $5,000 pay raise.
For relaxation, Mandel read spy novels watched television, hunted ducks on the Eastern Shore (where one hunting companion observed that Mandel was "a good shot but didn't like to waller in the water") and regularly attented home football games of the Baltimore Colts and the University of Maryland.
That was his first administration. It did have its down moments - an automobile accident that injured the governor and killed a Bowie man, an occasional news article about state business going to campaign contributors and friends. But it was mostly up, the most successful period of his life.
Toward the end of the first term there was his celebrated separation from Barbara Mandel, his wife of 32 years.
Jeanne Blackistone had been married to the scion of one of St. Mary's County's most prominent families, the Dorseys. She was one of the most beautiful women in the country, everyone said.
When her husband, Walter Dorsey, became a state senator and traveled to Annapolis each legislative session during the 60s, she stood out there as well: trim, blonde, a clear tanned face.
Mandel met her there, fell in love, and by her own account, carried on an affair for 10 years before it became a matter of public knowledge in 1973.
Mandel's press secretary had carried the press release around for weeks, waiting for the opportune moment. It came on July 3, 1973: "I am in love with another woman, Mrs. Jeanne Dorsey, and I intend to marry her," Mandel said in the release.
That year Jeanne then 37, said later "was the longest year of my life. I think it was for both of us. It's been very hard."
Evidence in the trial showed how far Mandel went to make it work. Co-defendant Irv Kovens provided $155,000 in bonds to Barbara Mandel as part of the once-secret divided settlement that got her out of the governor's mansion. Kovens also guaranteed a large portion of the settlement beyond that.
Codefendant W. Dale Hess helped Mandel get a $42,000 loan from the Pallottine Fathers religious order to help finance the divorce and another $12,000 to help Jeanne Mandel meet her expenses.
Codefendants financed a lavish vacation in Florida for Mandel, Jeanne and her children by her previous marriage.
The second Mrs. Mandel "made a difference in his life," recalled one legislative leader. "He was like a giddy kid around her. She dominated him, and grated on his staff. Marvin became distracted by his marriage, and later, by his legal problems."
His working lunches were replaced by lingering meals with his new wife at Auberge de France, a French restaurant in Annapolis that became their daily luncheon spot. His new found appetite for fine food and wine was in marked contrast to the old Marvin Mandel's preference for home-cooked meals at the mansion with his former wife that featured a catsup bottle on the table.
At a joint press conference during his 1974 re-election campaign, Mandel ridiculed his hopelessly outclassed Republican opponent, Louise Gore. Although his own aides appeared shocked and disheartened by his belligerence and discourtesy, Mandel found approval from his smiling, admiring bride.
Mandel began dressing better too, the result - according to testimony at the trial - of gifts from his codefendants. He found time for frequent vacations, to exotic sunny Jamaica, the Bahamas and Florida, and for trips to Russia, China and Western Europe.
A trip to Jamaica in January, 1975, resulted in the first of a series of unfavourable news stories, which Mandeldismissed as "a public relations mistake." He shrugged off the revelation that he and Mrs. Mandel had flown aboard a Steurt Petroleum Co. jet at a time the firm was seeking state approval to build a $160 million oil refinery in southern Maryland.
"I never though that anyone in their widest imagination could have thought there was anything wrong with the arrangement," he said later.
His weekly press conferences, which previously had been restrained, if not cordial, turned into shouting matches as newspapers revealed more trips, more involvement of his friends with the Marlboro Race Track and more contradictions in various Mandel statements. "I am not involved," Mandel would always say to questions. "I have never been involved. I don't intend to get invovled."
A cartoon at the time pictured him greeting reporters at the statehouse door and saying: "I deny your latest allegations. What are they?"
He appeared bored with his limited legislative programs in 1975 and 1976. The old Mandel savvy was applied to only one major proposals in 1975, an unsuccessful attempt to float a $4 million bond bill that would help Bill Veeck buy the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and keep it in Baltimore.
In July, 1975, scandal, which had only been hinted before, came to scar the Mandel record. It started with the indictment and subsequent conviction of Alford R. (Skip) Carey Jr., Mandel's handpicked director of the school construction program, of which he had been so proud.
The situation got even worse as the year progressed, with prosecutors subpoenaing records from the governor's office, and from his friends.
Then, on Nov. 24, 1975, a U.S. grand jury returned a 23-count indictment against the governor and five other men, charging they had participated in "a corrupt relationship to defraud the residents" of the state.