After Gov. LePage’s latest faux pas, of “kiss my butt,” I heard one of his staffers defend him by saying that LePage just “speaks his mind.”

If that is the case, I’m afraid we are in for four years of small talk and short conversations.

Jerry Blodgett

Topsham

It is extremely important that the new governor realizes that the governorship is not a dictatorship. More than 60 percent of Maine voters did not want him to be elected.

If independents Scott Moody or Kevin Scott had dropped out of the race, the results could have been very different. Regardless of the percentages, any governor needs to take into account all citizens when making decisions that affect them.

Since the majority of voters did not want him in office, it is especially wrong for him to assume that he has a mandate to force his ideology on Maine. He needs to consult and compromise with all Maine constituents. Anything less is not constitutional. All his Cabinet members and the attorney general also need to realize this.

Ruth Gleim

Gorham

The editorial staff of The Portland Press Herald does not necessarily represent what “the people of Maine” expect from their governor. They represent what “some of the people of Maine” expect from their governor.

This is a small but very important distinction. Gov. LePage’s attitude and earthy, down-home or whatever-you-want-to-call-it approach to basic confrontational political issues is exactly what many Mainers expect from their new governor.

Gov. LePage calls the NAACP a special interest group. This is true. The NAACP bears little resemblance to any organization that Dr. Martin Luther King would approve of.

The political alliances of the NAACP over the last few decades have done more to enhance the pocketbooks of the internal elites of the organization and stifle the advancement of minorities than aid in their advancement.

I believe that Gov. LePage recognized this and simply did not want to empower the group by giving further recognition of them and their agenda.

We are in the “Age of LePage,” where being politically correct is no longer the norm — and it’s about time.

Kurt Christiansen

Windham

I am a teacher. I expect 6- and 7-year-old children to be respectful and kind to their classmates, teachers and parents, and I expect our governor to help set that example. “Kiss my butt” and “Go to hell” are not helpful comments for teaching how to disagree constructively. In this society we need adults to be civil as well as honorable, trustworthy and principled.

Gov. LePage can still “tell it like it is,” but, please, he can do that with tact. I guide first-graders to think before they react, take some deep breaths and choose their words carefully. We all need to develop these strategies.

I understand, as the elected head of our state, he becomes frustrated with demands and budgets, as certainly public educators do as well, but he should hold himself to a higher standard and help me teach respect.

Jen Meserve

Falmouth

It’s one thing to dislike an organization and to refuse an invitation, but when did it become a strength or virtue to be rude and disrespectful? Is this really the kind of behavior Mainers want from their governor?

Don’t we pride ourselves on being respectful citizens, neighbors, family members? On simply having the common courtesy of politeness? Is crude behavior in public something we’re really glad to see as the face of our state? I can’t imagine any situation in public office where telling someone to “kiss my butt” would be acceptable. Period.

Nicole Wolf Gilbert

South Portland

The ruckus over Gov. LePage’s “kiss my butt” remark to the NAACP overshadows a larger issue. Despite having a black man as president, we are still unable to have a rational conversation about racial issues in our country. Things quickly devolve into competing claims of racism, and intellectual discussion reverts to name calling of one sort or another.

I’ll start off saying that I’m a white person. I have a number of questions that I’d like to hear thoughtfully discussed without having to listen to a recitation of talking points.

I’d like to know if anyone thinks that affirmative action is doing any good. Is it doing any harm? Is President Johnson’s war on poverty being won? How many generations will pass before the effects of slavery and segregation are mitigated? what measure will we know this?

Is the NAACP infallible or may we disagree with them? Are black people as prejudiced as white people?

Others of all backgrounds will have questions too, but mostly we are afraid to ask them, unwilling to discuss them civilly. And I would distrust the usual suspects who purport to facilitate such discussions as having a preset agenda.

Here in Maine, we know little directly about black people. I know only one black person who would recognize me by name. (Hi, Gary!) Having visted Zimbabwe, I know more blacks there than at home.

It seems that black and white know little of each other, and maybe less and less. If anyone knows how to have a decent conversation on the matter, without predetermined conclusions and axes to grind, we’d all like to hear of it.

Norman B. Blake

West Baldwin

Gov. LePage is right; the NAACP is a special-interest group. Although they claim to represent all black Americans, they are an ultra-liberal group known for harassing conservatives, including prominent black Americans such as Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Justice Clarence Thomas.

For this reason, and because of their history of scandals involving their national leadership, many Americans of all races shun this organization.

Where did the notion come from that giving credence to the NAACP by attending their functions is how one celebrates Martin Luther King Day?

That holiday belongs to Americans of all races who fought and are still fighting the courageous fight for civil rights. Have we forgotten that two of the three murdered civil rights workers dug out of a Mississippi earthen dam in 1964 were white?

Like Gov. LePage, I endured the sharp sting of discrimination that was prevalent against the French in Maine decades ago. Like LePage, if a reporter had in any way also hinted that I was racist if I didn’t suck up to the NAACP, I may have said the same thing as the governor.

But I would not have been laughing as I said it.

Ted Sirois

Saco

I was hoping to make my reservation to have dinner with Gov. LePage and his family as one of the folks who read your front page article. I’d like to talk to his son, but mostly I’d like to talk with Mr. LePage as he is a representative of my family as well as a state I dearly love. I’d like to ask him to attempt to be more polite in his directness.

My daughter’s first comment when she saw the headline was a sarcastic,”Way to go, Maine.” My husband quickly corrected her by pointing out it was “way to go, Paul LePage,” but you see, that’s the problem, most folks’ first response will be “way to go Maine.” This is troubling to me. Not my Maine, not me.

I know that many people appreciate his direct manner of communicating.

However, I was raised to believe that we should treat each other with respect and choose our words carefully. My mother always said, “Words can hurt.” I would think that’s even more relevant for a governor of a state.

The direct approach would have been to say simply he had a personal commitment on Sunday and a funeral on Monday.

There, simple, direct and respectful. I’m sure he is familiar with the etiquette of sending his regrets to an invitation even when it comes from a “special interest group.”

I can only hope that my governor would use words to unite, build trust and community rather than inflame, trouble and divide. I see he is finding a way to celebrate one of the greatest men in the history of this country, if not all history, regardless of who organized the event.

On second thought, I’ll revoke my request for a dinner invitation in the interest of our governor’s time. Hopefully he’s heard my piece and can get back to the business of striving to represent this state and my family in a manner more befitting a governor.

Elizabeth Pontius

Portland

Hey, Gov. LePage, don’t listen to your detractors. They’re wrong, you’re right. Thanks for keeping it real — that’s why you were elected.

Don’t change, governor. Don’t you ever change.

Dave DelCamp

Portland

Gov. LePage’s unbridled use of profanity in public does not make him a man of the people. It shows he is careless, inarticulate and indifferent to the gravity of his office.

This was evident during his campaign, when he excused his gutter talk as the inevitable result of a hard upbringing — a claim now taken up by Bill Nemitz, among others (Jan. 16, “Governor, you’re making Maine the butt of a national joke”).

But it is the worst kind of prejudice to imply that poverty is an excuse for bad manners. The governor’s cheap speech is the product of laziness, not an impoverished childhood.

“Social niceties” like the ability to speak clearly and with composure are not the preserve of the well-to-do. All that separates Gov. LePage from Paris Hilton are the body parts they invite us to imagine. And Hilton doesn’t represent Maine to the rest of the world.

Lincoln Paine

Portland

How extraordinarily sad it is to be a Maine native and to have seen our new governor, perhaps for the very first time on all of the national television news outlets, spouting his reprehensible “kiss my butt” statement for all the world to hear.

What a heart-wrenching experience to have had the rest of our country have to see the head of our once-great state, the man chosen to speak on our behalf, making such a disgusting display.

What must they all think, that this was the best we could do to fill the role of governor? His oafish and insensitive manner may seem just hilarious to his cronies and “good-ol’-boys” down at the surplus store, but just think how it must appear to a “special interest” like a business that might have considered relocating and bringing badly needed jobs to Maine.

And what an absolutely charming example he sets for our children to look up to — a regular “Andy of Mayberry,” isn’t he? Those who elected him will get what they hoped for, and just what they deserve.

Unfortunately, the rest of us will have to endure the embarrassment of his “Simpsons-inspired” rhetoric for years, and it may be a generation or more before we outlive the sad legacy he is already striving to stamp upon our state and its people.

Thanks, Gov. LePage, for making us wish we could say we were from someplace else. Shame on you.

Jim Glavine

Moosehead Junction Twp.

I did not vote for Gov. LePage, but now that he has been sworn in as governor of our beautiful state, I think it is time that citizens of Maine demand that he perform his duties as governor in a dignified, professional manner.

There is a difference between being plain-spoken and being just plain crude. I hang my head in shame over Gov. LePage’s blatant disrepect to the NAACP. After all, it is now his responsibility to lead the state in a positive direction and represent the interests of all the people who live in Maine.

So far we have seen nothing but an ill-mannered buffoon who has made the state of Maine a laughing stock.

The state deserves better than that, and it is time to let his brain engage before his mouth. If he is serious about taking Maine in a new direction, he should do it but without disgracing us in the process.

Mary Parsons

Brunswick

 


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