Posted: May 5, 2009


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Myron Steele ought to be grateful he lives in Delaware.

Imagine the fate in other places if a chief justice employed his state e-mail to send around a silly video that gives a whole new meaning to oral argument.

Investigations! Impeachment growlings! Tar and feathers! Not here, where people are resigned to the idea that good-ole-boys will be good-ole-boys.

There was no better evidence of the state's attitude than the annual First State Gridiron Dinner & Show, where Delaware's political elite gathered Saturday evening at the Wilmington Riverfront.

Billed as a political roast, it came across this year as more of a political saute.

Maybe it is the times. With so much real pain in real lives, there was no need to invent any. Delaware never has had much heart for piling on -- even at an event called a "gridiron." How else to explain the return of John Atkins to the legislature?

Not that Steele and others escaped entirely. It was not a good night, for example, for being part of the race-track-and-slot-machine cartel.

Steele, who did not appear among 400 or so gridiron-goers, although he has before, was dinged by Gov. Jack Markell. By tradition, the governor has the last word after the skits and songs and spoofs are over. In his monologue, he pretended he was reading e-mail.

"Here's one more. Do you know what? It's from Myron Steele. I think I better not read that one," Markell quipped.

Most of the jokes and pokes of the evening were aimed at topics du jour, such as the potential race between Republican Congressman Mike Castle and Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden for the U.S. Senate seat relinquished by Delaware's favorite vice president. To wit:

Did you hear that Castle was the winner of a trip to Joe Biden's time share? It's in Mexico City.

There's a new state plan for raising revenue. It's an inheritance tax on U.S. Senate seats.

As usual, the gridiron's highlight was a new version of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," sung by Lynda Maloney, the former first lady of Wilmington. In these days of deprivation, she took on the ones still stubbornly wedded to the unofficial motto of Dover, "Where's mine?"

Don't cry for me, Racinos Big Three,

The truth is, you're being greedy.

Your opposition

To competition

Is having the gall to want it all. . . .


We've no illusions.

Solutions are as clear as can be.

The answer is here, I bet,

If the legislators would just grow a set.

The crowd howled. When Markell got his chance to talk, he cracked, "I love Lynda Maloney."

Bobby Byrd, a racino lobbyist, hollered, "I don't!"

Most of the other songs in the show were so much gentler, as in a takeoff of "My Favorite Things."

Raindrops on Dover and pantsuits on Minner,

Joey and Beau-y and chicken for dinner,

Lawyers and lobbyists running in rings,

These are all parts of our Delaware things. . . .


When the Hens win, when the Hornets sting,

When I hear the crowds,

I know I'm a part of that Delaware thing,

And that makes me feel so proud.

Markell reflected the mood when he delivered the gridiron's final punch line.

After noting he was pleased that John Carney, his ex-rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, was running for the Congress, Markell said, "There is a tradition in this state of trading offices. John, I've been doing this job for three months now. I'm ready. Are you?"

Markell did not come to bury his fellow Delawareans, but to raise them.