Republican Senators Blast Gov. Paul LePage

Posted on April 19, 2011

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Author: Stan Moody

I respond to the opinion piece on Gov. Paul LePage, posted in the Kennebec Journal on April 4th by 8 of his Republican colleagues in the senate. It was run while LePage was on vacation and after he had apologized to the senators.

The prevailing rule of politics is indeed civil discourse. On the other hand, the path to change sometimes demands a heavy hand.

Maine, the “Hind Teat State”:

We have become the “hind teat state,” failing to take our destiny in our own hands, depending instead on the rising tide in Massachusetts and Washington. One person who seems to recognize the desperate straits into which we have sunk is Gov. Paul LePage.

A mere 3 months into his term, however, Republican colleagues who rode his coattails into office are disappointed by his disrespectful outbursts. They should like to preserve a tradition as “proud Republicans.”

Therein lies the problem.

The Way of Proud Republicans:

As I read the Op Ed piece, stuck in my mind was the 4×6 ft campaign signs on Rte. 202 in Manchester with our state senator and Gov. LePage in full color. The signs were placed there long after LePage had publicly declared his desire to punch MPR’s reporter, A.J. Higgins, in the nose and long after he had said he would tell President Obama to “go to hell.”

Another thought came to mind as I read the Op Ed piece.

On February 11, 2003, the Democrat-controlled Maine House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution requesting that the President of the United States exhaust all means of diplomacy before taking military action in Iraq.

Proud Republicans from every corner of our State insisted that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction because they had been told so by other proud Republicans who were proved later to have been wrong.

I served with 4 of these proud Republicans who signed the opinion piece. With the exception of Sen. Saviello, who was then a Democrat, I cannot recall a single instance when the other 3 failed to vote with their corner. I hold all 4 in the highest regard as among the finest Mainers I have ever known. I would rate them right up there with Sen. Bennett Katz, father of the author of the Op Ed piece.

Being “proud Republicans,” however, will not feed the bulldog.

LePage the Face of the New Republican Party:

Like it or not, Gov. Paul LePage is the face of the new Republican Party, not only in Maine but nationally. Having been duly elected, he is our Governor and deserves the same respect that his Republican colleagues in the Senate claim he is slow at reciprocating. The Op Ed piece, rather than being a thoughtful response to lack of civility, smacks of a calculated effort to preserve political careers.

The defining agenda is in the next-to-last paragraph in the piece: “Based on our recent positive conversations with the governor, we have every reason to believe that he will join us in that spirit (treating fellow-legislators with dignity and respect).”
The question hangs in the air, “Then why the Op Ed piece?”

I should rather focus on the good that Gov. LePage has done in the past 3 months.

Good Moves LePage Has Made:

His appointments have demonstrated a keen capacity to pick good managers. Steve Bowen, Commissioner of Education, with whom I had many a floor fight when we served together in the House of Representatives, has hit the ground running. Joe Ponte, Commissioner of Corrections, who I have prodded through the press to tear apart that Old Boy network, has focused on the problems and is making good progress.

Mary Mahew, Commissioner of the bloated Maine Department of Health and Human Services, has waded in with a meat axe, cutting, restructuring and rendering the department more relevant. Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and with whom I served on the IF&W Joint Standing Committee, brings to the table an unparalleled passion for the wild brook trout and will be making the first attempt in decades at holding the Department of Conservation’s feet to the fire in enforcing the ban on cutting winter deer yards.

Peter Mills, one of the finest public servants in Maine, will be addressing at last the problems deriving from the perennially-untouchable Maine Turnpike Authority.

The image of the State of Maine holds little interest to me. What interests me more is that we get our feet on the ground and start taking our destiny into our own hands rather than waiting for a handout.

To the extent that Gov. LePage has appointed good managers who can help make that happen, I am willing to take his blustering and bullying with a grain of salt, and so, I believe, should his Republican colleagues in the Senate, until, that is, he steps over the line into “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

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Posted in: Politics