July 30, 2010

Bill Nemitz: Communique to a candidate: Mr. LePage, people are listening

(Continued from page 1)

I'm confused. If every dollar rightfully belongs in my pocket, then how is state government going to have any money to spend wisely?

Put another way, is this your best attempt to articulate your vision for a complex state fiscal crisis that grows more dire with each biennium? Or is it one of those bromides that gets lots of applause from your Tea Party friends but, if read carefully, makes no sense whatsoever?

Moving on to your plan for welfare reform, you state that "recipients (of general assistance) with disabilities would be required to perform community services within the scope of their respective ability."

Since you begin your welfare reform plan with phrases like "milking the system" and "destructive and corrupt," I can't help but think people with disabilities have good reason to worry here.

So, just to be clear, might you add a representative list of disabilities along with the kind of work you'd expect these people to perform?

(A humble suggestion: Before you propose that a person in a wheelchair, say, could help put away books at the public library, you might spend a few hours trying to do it yourself.)

Question 4: Are you having fun yet?

Now I know we haven't met, Mr. LePage, but you seem like a nice guy. And I've filled my house with enough bargains from Marden's discount stores to know that you, as the chain's general manager, know how to wheel and deal, hobnob, backslap and do all those other things so critical to a successful retail salvage business.

But I was struck by your lament on the radio Thursday that "I made a wisecrack (about the age of Libby Mitchell, your Democratic opponent, for which you've publicly apologized) and everyone ran with the wisecrack."

That's the difference between what you've done the past 14 years and what you want to do the next four.

At Marden's, you can spout off whenever you feel the urge and your words quickly evaporate into thin air. Kind of like Glenn Beck.

But as a major party candidate on the gubernatorial campaign trail, it's different. People actually listen to what you have to say. And some of us actually write it down or, better yet, record it and play it over and over and over

The way I see it, that leaves you two choices.

You can think before you speak, which I admit is a lot less fun than making stuff up or demagoguing the disabled or revving up your supporters with wisecracks that later lead to public apologies.

Or you can accept that you're just not wired that way and delegate the public speaking to someone better suited for that kind of thing. Someone who knows how to stay on message without having it boomerang into a full-blown controversy. Someone whose credibility with the public is both well-established and unimpeachable.

I'm thinking the Marden's Lady.

 

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

bnemitz@mainetoday.com

 

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