Thursday, February 7, 2013

In Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage Exhibits the Standard Tea Party Bullying Style of Government

So Even Republican Legislators May Not Be On His Side

As this Forum has previously noted, in New Jersey the abrasive style f Republican Gov. Chris Christie has the socially redeeming undertone of a man of principle.  In Maine the same style that personifies Republican Gov. Paul LePage has the un-redeeming undertone of just a plain mean and nasty person.

Maine has returned control of the legislature to Democrats, and like a spoiled, petty child the Governor has decided that he just will not work with Democrats, or even talk with them.

The governor, Paul R. LePage, a Republican who won office in 2010 with the backing of the Tea Party, has been giving the Democratic leaders the cold shoulder. He has refused to meet or speak with them since the Democrats took back the Legislature in November.

Joel Page/Associated Press
Gov. Paul R. LePage of Maine, a Republican,
 has refused to speak with Democratic leaders 
in the State Legislature. (NYT)
The problem it seems is that during the recent election somebody with a camera was following Gov. LePage.  And of course in Mr. LePage’s view being an elected official means that he should not have to allow any access to the public.  And like most Conservatives, Mr. LePage doesn’t let the lack of truth get in the way of his positions or pronouncements.

In early December, the governor was set to meet with the new Democratic leaders, the Senate president, Justin Alfond, and speaker of the House, Mark Eaves. But he canceled, saying he objected to the cameraman, who, he said, filmed him at a Veterans Day event in November while he was talking with an elderly veteran in ill health. Mr. LePage said the people of Maine should not be used as “props” to score political points.

The video, released by the Democrats, showed no such encounter between Mr. LePage and an elderly veteran. 

Democrats have tried to make it up with the Governor,

Shortly afterward, Mr. Alfond sent the governor a handwritten invitation to dinner. But the invitation landed in the hands of the news media before it got to the governor, prompting the governor’s office to brand the invitation a stunt.

And the Governor has acted so offensively that not only is he losing the support of some independent lawmakers,

The rising tensions over the budget were evident last week when the governor met with three independent House members who do not caucus with either the Democrats or Republicans. When they told Mr. LePage that municipalities could be forced to raise property taxes by hundreds of dollars, the governor grew angry, pounded the table, called them “idiots” and later swore at them, according to The Bangor Daily News.

“He went right through the roof when I asked him the question,” Representative Jeff Evangelos told the newspaper. “He flew up like a jack-in-the-box and ran out of the room and slammed the door.”

even some Republicans have abandoned him.

Senator Roger Katz, the assistant minority leader, has complained before about Mr. LePage’s approach to governance. He wrote a column in 2011, signed by some fellow Republicans, saying that Mr. LePage’s penchant for demeaning comments lowered the bar for civil discourse.

Mr. Katz said last week that the governor’s problem was still one of tone, though he was unhappy with the budget proposal too. “As a general rule,” Mr. Katz said, “the more people of good will talk to each other, the better. I don’t know why it hasn’t happened yet.”

Of course, the real news is why anyone would expect ideologically driven Tea Party politicians, the ‘my way or the highway’ crowd to act any differently.  And the situation in Maine may show that the real way to defeat these people is to let them win a few elections so the voters can see what they really are.  That reality is the most powerful weapon against them, as evidence by the fact that just a few years after Maine put Mr. LePage in office they turned the state legislature back to Democrats.  Sometimes voters have to see to believe.

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