REVISIONISM HAS REARED its unpretty head in Annapolis. Gov. Harry Hughes, while declining to offer an explanation, ordered the summary removal from the State House reception room of the official portrait of former Maryland governor Spiro T. Agnew.
This whole episode smacks of a Kremlin-like rewrite of history. For those who may have forgotten, Spiro T. ("Ted") Agnew was elected governor of Maryland in 1966, with some crucial support from the kind of voters he would later describe as "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals." Granted Mr. Agnew only spent two years in Annapolis before being tapped for national responsibility; but during those brief months Gov. Agnew, we later learned, gave a real boost to Maryland envelope sales and a new meaning to the lame excuse: "You gave at the office."
Perhaps Mr. Agnew has gone away, but the portrait issue won't, Gov. Hughes. The administration of Gov. Agnew cannot simply be denied by executive fiat. The record cannot be ignored. It is a chapter that will always stand out in Maryland political history.
There may be some "parasites of passion" or "ideological eunuchs" (the Agnew prose, alone, entitles the man to a special place) who would insist that they knew long before Gov. Hughes that Spiro Agnew was "off the wall." Let them have their say.
But somebody must speak up for the Agnew years and the portrait that commemorates them. As Mr. Agnew himself might say if he were not such a stoic: "After all, everyone including Gov. Hughes knew I was framed. The only surprising development is that Democrats don't want to hang Agnew anymore." Might say, but he did not say.
So while some nervous Nellies will remind everyone within shouting distance that for nearly five years Mr. Agnew was only a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, we choose to remember those salad days in Annapolis. Please reconsider your rash act, Gov. Hughes, and give Spiro Agnew the hook once more.