August 30, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Republican knives out for LePage

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com

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.

(Continued on page 2)

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