The anti-Paul LePage TV ads are taking him to task for being a conservative.

Since it’s not yet all that clear how much of a conservative he would be as governor (except that he would likely be more conservative than his opponents, but that’s not a high hurdle to overcome), the ads may seem a bit premature.

Until you realize that their goal is to attack the right-most candidate with the biggest club his opponents can find (the ads are paid for by the Democratic governors’ campaign, so you see where they’re aimed).

And national Democrats, by the evidence we have, believe that Mainers will shudder to think that a real, live, actual candidate for governor of this fine state 1) supports offshore drilling for oil; 2) likes nuclear power; 3) is pro-life; and 4) believes in a Creator.

(The claim he would force schools “to teach Creationism” is a red herring, as a governor has no control over what schools teach. He merely suggested they should be free to do so if they wished, without defining what version of that many-flavored view he held himself. All we know for sure is that, like the vast majority of Americans, he believes we were created. But then, we are up to our keisters in red herrings, so what’s one more?)

When I look at that list of horribles, I do indeed feel a shiver running up my spine — but it’s a shiver of delight we actually have a candidate who would have sensible energy policies based on weaning ourselves off foreign oil by exploiting our own plentiful resources, including the next generation of nuclear plants; work to preserve the lives of the innocent unborn; and stand up for the teachings of his faith.

That is, I can see the LePage campaign running the same commercial (minus the ominous Voiceover of Doom) and having the candidate say, “This is why you should vote for me.”

But that’s just my opinion. Maybe the Democrats are right and most Mainers think those policies are dreadful and we should continue along our current path as a state and a nation. Of course, that’s not what the national polls are saying, but the master politicians at Democrat Central clearly know more than I do, so I’ll move on to what I find most disturbing about the current campaign.

Which isn’t the fact that these commercials are hard-nosed negative ads. LePage entered this race with his eyes open, and he should have known which way it would turn. Heat and kitchens, remember?

And since his own pungent comments have focused attention away from his positions on issues, he bears much of the blame for his current standing.

But not entirely because of what he has said, but also because of what he — and his media campaign — haven’t said.

Research shows negative ads work, at least in depressing turnout for their targets, if not in boosting the vote for their sponsors — and they work most effectively when the target refrains from replying in kind.

You may get points from the 10 people who think that floating above the fray shows your devotion to high-minded principle. But unless you start pointing out your opponents’ flaws, most voters will think that you have no response to their charges, and therefore they must be at least partly true. And merely being defensive about the ads is also seen as testifying to their relevance.

We may all wish that negative campaigning was out of bounds in Maine, but that line has already been crossed. Will the LePage campaign fight fire with fire, or just spend the next four weeks getting singed?

True, it could be that there’s nothing to criticize about Libby Mitchell, because the state has been run so well over the past eight years that there’s nothing uncomplimentary to say about its business climate, its unemployment rates, its levels of taxation, or its record of keeping young people educated and productively employed.

Yep, nothing to note there.

Clearly the media should be focusing on LePage’s pugilistic skills with reporters and his disdain for the current occupant of the White House (something other Americans apparently are coming to share more and more, too, but hey, who cares what they think).

He is being treated as if he were running for head diplomat rather than governor, but his ongoing neglect for the realities of modern campaigning will keep on fueling the blaze.

FOOTNOTE: There’s an element of anti-religious prejudice in this campaign that is getting more than a bit offensive.

To wit, it appears we are being told that people who hold orthodox religious views about the creation of human beings are, not to put too fine a point on it, drooling morons.

Not every believer is a “young-Earth creationist.” But even if you disagree with that view, its advocates aren’t stupid. However, very few Americans are atheists, either.

Many believers accept that the universe is billions of years old and still see a divine hand in it that not only brought it into being and produced life within it — two realities for which science offers no explanation — but guided the development of all living beings while maintaining a unique role for humanity in the process.

What should be a matter of great concern is that our children are not being taught a neutral view of that question, but an atheistic one — that “natural selection” is a purposeless, blind, entirely random process springing from nothing and, worse, meaning nothing.

It’s fine if some people want to think their lives are meaningless. Those of us who know better, however, shouldn’t be scorned for disagreeing.

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6482 or;

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