It was quite a week for Gov. LePage: On Monday, he released his State of the State letter to lawmakers, in which he let eight pages of insults take the place of a policy agenda for 2016.

On Tuesday, he “temporarily” withdrew the nomination of William Beardsley for education commissioner, because the governor heard that the nominee might face tough questioning by members of a legislative oversight committee.

On Wednesday, Maine’s chief executive said that he would refuse to accept federal funds to run the Riverview Psychiatric Center, using the resulting budget shortfall as leverage to make the Legislature swallow whole his ever-changing plan to house hard-to-manage patients.

And on Thursday, LePage said he would be his own education commissioner, which is usually considered a fairly demanding full-time job all by itself.

The governor later said he would be commissioner in name only, letting Beardsley run the department as a deputy, sidestepping the legislative confirmation process. But LePage should have plenty of time to moonlight. He has apparently lost all interest in doing the job he was elected to do and puts so little effort into making government work that he could take on three or four more full-time jobs without his responsibilities ever getting in the way.

Almost every day last week, the governor found a way to get out of governing.


He delivered his State of the State as a letter instead of a formal in-person address, saying that everyone’s time would be better used working for the people of Maine. Maybe, but it’s unclear what productive use he planned for the hour he would have “wasted” speaking to a joint conference of House and Senate and the people of Maine.

He used the word “socialist” a dozen times in his letter, but he barely found room for a single policy proposal that wasn’t an already-tired talking point from his previous harangues.

Equally revealing is his timidity about exposing Beardsley to the same committee process endured by every other state official of Cabinet rank. The governor is so used to neglecting his job that he appears to be uncomfortable watching lawmakers do theirs.

And his threats about Riverview also show a lack of commitment to duty. Refusing federal funds might win him a round against the Legislature, but what would it do for the care of people with mental illness? Ultimately, those people are his responsibility, and fighting with lawmakers is just his hobby.

It hasn’t always been this way. In 2011, LePage presented a budget, fought for it in the Legislature and passed most of his agenda, including tax cuts and pension benefit reductions. But in the five years since then, he has barely even tried, letting a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers horse-trade the details of budgets that could pass without his signature.

It’s not that he has been quiet:


He used his executive power to deny House Speaker Mark Eves a job with a private nonprofit. He has blocked the creation of rules that would give schools guidance on accommodating the needs of transgender children, in defiance of a court decision.

And he has kept an ambitious schedule of town-hall meetings in which he complains about the shortcomings of state government as if he were an innocent bystander and not the guy in charge.

But when it comes to actually showing the leadership needed to fix those perceived faults, Gov. LePage has gone fishing.

He has shown himself to be a shrewd political tactician who is tenacious about getting his way. But he is intellectually lazy and will predictably pick the cheap sound-bite over the hard work it takes to bring disparate groups of people together for the common good.

He doesn’t entertain other points of view, instead taking the easy route of vilifying anyone who disagrees with him.

It’s hard to understand why someone who has so much disdain for the process of government would ever want to be in charge of one, but since he chose to put himself in this position, it’s not too much to ask that he work with other independently elected leaders.

If Gov. LePage isn’t willing to do that, he should resign and let someone with a little more respect for the job give it a try.

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