January 16, 2011

Bill Nemitz: Governor, you're making Maine the butt of a national joke

(Continued from page 1)

I spoke with Dan Demeritt, your underpaid communications director, shortly after your latest video hit the Internet on Friday. No, Demeritt said, you had no plans to apologize to anyone.

Rather, it appears the strategy this time is to sanitize.

In a hastily prepared press release, Demeritt reduced the butt-kissing invitation to "the Governor dismissing the assertions being made by the NAACP." He also alluded to you speaking "in the direct manner people have come to expect from Paul LePage."

Expect? Unfortunately, Demeritt had that 100 percent right.

Appreciate? With the possible exception of those die-hard LePage supporters who use "kiss my butt" as a breakfast greeting, I would submit most Mainers are quietly appalled.

I also chatted with my friend Ray Richardson, co-host of the "Ray and Ted" show on WLOB radio, about why you'd say such a thing after all you've been through already.

Richardson defended you by noting you grew up in a world where people speak without filters, where the path from the brain to the mouth can often be a high-speed express lane, where social niceties are no match for hardscrabble declarations.

"In his world," Richardson explained, "everything's a street fight."

Maybe so. But Governor, you weren't elected to drag Maine's 1.3 million citizens -- some kicking and screaming, others in heavenly rapture -- into your world. You were elected to preside, with as much dignity as a street fighter can muster, over ours.

Say what? What do I mean by "dignity?"

I refer you to President Obama's speech in Tucson. Just two days before you spouted off, he drew praise from the entire political spectrum with his call for all Americans to "make sure that we're talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."

OK, so you're no Barack Obama. Believe me, Governor, nobody at this point expects you to be.

And we all know you're very busy -- running an entire state being a lot harder than Marden's Surplus Stores and all. As you lamented to the media Friday, "The fact of the matter is there's only so many hours in the day, so many hours in the week and so much that you can do."

So, as I watch the number of online news stories about your latest gaffe fast approaching the 200 mark, I have a humble suggestion:

As you head into Week Three of your (count 'em) 208 weeks in office, try doing a little more with your brain and a little less with your mouth.

And finally, Governor, allow me to close with a request I honestly never thought I'd make to Maine's highest elected official.

Please -- and I'm begging you here -- no more butt talk.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:



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