July 26, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Maine Republican chairman copes with twin images

(Continued from page 1)

AIRING IT OUT

Listen to a podcast of Bill Nemitz talking about this column and other issues this morming on  NewsRadio 560 WGAN.

Bennett, a former longtime legislator who served as president of the Maine Senate, readily concedes that his party's many and varied newcomers -- the tea party conservatives, the Ron Paul libertarians -- played significant roles in a 2012 state convention "which was by all reports an unmitigated disaster."

But that, Bennett insists, is all in the past.

"My job is to harmonize the energies as much as possible and move us forward," he said.

With guns here, there and everywhere?

"You see guns," Bennett noted. "Other people see freedom."

Touche, Mr. Chairman. But what about that still-in-effect platform that demands everything from "Reject the UN Treaty on Rights of the Child" to "Return to the principles of Austrian economics?" All due respect, but does Bennett have a clue what "Austrian economics" even means?

"Not really," he conceded.

That said, Bennett doesn't have as big a problem with the party platform as do those who think it has no business delving into, "Discard political correctness, make public the declaration of war (Jihad), made against the US on 23 Feb 1998, and fight the war against the United States by radical Islam to win."

In fact, Bennett said, beyond the occasional warped plank, the overall platform is "fine" as far as he's concerned.

"It talks about freedom. It talks about individual liberty. It talks about limited government. It talks about free markets," he said. "And those are the elements that tie us together as Republicans."

No argument there. But Bennett, who for the record is pro-choice and believes humans in fact do have something to do with climate change, is well aware that his bigger challenge goes far beyond persuading Maine's 270,000 enrolled Republicans (only 27 percent of the statewide electorate) to play nice with each other.

"At the end of the day, we're only going to be successful if we meet the demands of Maine voters," he said. "Not just the Republicans, but all Maine voters."

Precisely. So, with the vast majority of those voters in favor of some form of gun control, why would your party remain so fixated on guns?

"I think this speaks to something a little deeper than just people loving guns," Bennett said. "I think it's about people fearing for their communities and their safety and they feel like government has failed them in many ways. They feel like they need to take on certain things that they've never taken on before – and this is one of them."

Ah yes, the tsunami of fear that's been sweeping the nation since the day Barack Obama became president. We can only imagine how Bennett, a political pro if ever there was one, will translate that into an image Maine voters can all embrace.

Or he could just shave his head.

 

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

bnemitz@pressherald.com

 

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