Dear Governor LePage,
Hear that sound?
It’s the long knives coming out – and they’re all pointed directly at your back.
Now I admit I’m not exactly a member of Maine’s Republican inner circle – assuming such a thing still exists. In fact, I was halfway around the world last week, attending my son’s wedding reception in South Korea, when I read the news – on the New York Times website, no less – of your latest bout of foot-in-mouth disease.
President Obama hates white people. I’ve got to hand it to you, Big Guy, when it comes to this year’s nominations for the Right-Wing Crazy Talk Hall of Fame, it’s a dead heat right now between you and that ex-cop in Sabattus who called for shooting the president (actually, he used a racial slur) because he thinks Obama wants to take away his wife’s Social Security spousal benefits.
Upon returning to Maine this week from Seoul (where I actually came across a few things that reminded me of you, but more on that later), I figured this whole Obama-hates-white-people thing would have blown over just like the “kiss my butt” comment to the NAACP, telling President Obama to “go to hell,” the ladies with little beards, the “Gestapo” Internal Revenue Service, the Vaseline scandal, the “cloud of blind hatred” hanging over the Legislature, the labor mural, blowing up the Press Herald … which, by the way, I was relieved to see didn’t happen.
But back to your latest gaffe, which I understand you made at a private fundraiser in Belgrade attended by more than a few pillars of Maine’s Republican establishment.
First came the two lawmakers who confirmed anonymously to the Press Herald that you made the crack about Obama and white people.
Then came your claim that you never said it and that we media folks “are all about gossip.”
Then, when that didn’t work, came your usual non-apologetic apology to your fellow Republicans “for any difficulty that remarks recently reported in the press may have caused you.”
I love the way you do that: The problem isn’t that you made the remarks, but rather that the media reported them and your Republican friends had “difficulty” digesting them. I swear, if you were caught robbing a bank, you’d blame it on the unmarked bills “that recently found their way into my brown paper bag.”
Anyway, I’m hearing that your mea culpa, or whatever it was, hasn’t gone over too well in Republican land.
A big reason for that, of course, is that those who attended the Belgrade bash, rather than man (or woman) up and publicly tell the truth about what happened, initially feigned amnesia (“I don’t recall hearing that”) or sudden hearing loss (“If he said it, I didn’t hear it”).
Now that you’ve acknowledged those “remarks,” however, your ertswhile defenders look (and I suspect feel) like a bunch of cowering wimps who actually believed that what was said in that room could actually stay in that room.
(Kind of reminds me of a Korean proverb I learned last week: “Words have no wings, but they can fly a thousand miles.”)
But this goes way beyond your uncanny ability to make grown men and women tiptoe around you as if you were some kind of improvised explosive device. This time, Governor, it appears you’ve done some real and lasting damage.
Did you catch that special election this week in state Senate District 19 — the one in which former Sen. Paula Benoit was widely expected to win back a coveted seat for the Republicans?
Didn’t happen, did it, Big Guy? The turnout, at 31 percent, was much higher than expected — and more than a few of the voters who ended up electing previously unknown Democrat Eloise Vitelli said it was your crack about Obama that propelled them to the polls on a perfect, late-summer beach day.
Bummer, huh Guv? You shoot from the hip and the Republican minority in the Senate takes one in the backside.
The painful truth here, at least for you, is that it’s no longer just those you like to call the “loyal opposition” who think your time in the Blaine House has become an unmitigated disaster.
It’s a growing number of your own party members — you know, the ones with brains — who break into a cold sweat at the thought of you winning re-election next year and spending another four years spewing about all that is wrong with the state you’re supposed to be leading. (Coming soon to the turnpike entrance in Kittery: “Welcome to Maine: We Stink at Everything.”)
Those same Republicans look at the latest Public Policy Polling numbers showing Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud ahead of both you and independent Eliot Cutler and now wonder if a Republican gubernatorial primary might not be such a crazy idea, after all. (“Paging state Sen. Roger Katz … your place on the ballot is waiting.”)
What’s that, Governor? You’re going to blow up Public Policy Polling as soon as you’ve leveled the Press Herald?
Bombs away, Big Guy. But it won’t change the fact that 60 percent of the respondents, including 30 percent of Republicans, now believe you cause Maine “national embarrassment.” I’ll bet you a lobster that number rises to 80 percent by next fall.
Say what? You gave all your lobster away last week to the 49 other governors around the country? I heard about that too — and how New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan promptly forwarded hers to the hungry masses at a soup kitchen in Concord.
(Look at the bright side, sir. At least you can claim you now have irrefutable proof that Maine’s tax dollars are being used to provide free lobster to welfare recipients. Your base will eat it up!)
Speaking of seafood, let me close with a little snapshot from my trip to South Korea.
One evening, I had the opportunity to visit a place where you pick out an assortment of live fish still swimming in tanks just a few feet from where the fishing boats dock. Then you go upstairs and, within minutes, they serve you your selections raw on a platter.
All I can say is thank God for that hot wasabi paste.
A short time later, I came across another old Korean proverb — and here’s where I thought of you. It goes: “A fish wouldn’t get into trouble if it kept its mouth shut.”
I know, Governor, you can no sooner keep your mouth shut than persuade all those restive Republicans to put away their daggers and keep defending you from your own endlessly moving lips.
So go ahead, Big Guy, keep yapping.
The closer we get to November of 2014, the more you’re starting to look like sushi.
Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: