Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R)

lePage

Those who want a glimpse into what a Donald Trump presidency would be like need look no farther than the perpetual self-created mess that is the tenure of Republican Paul LePage as governer of Maine. The New York Times recently provided a handy summary of his more recent embarrassments and attacks of absurd incivility and unprofessional behavior:

2016

April

Mr. LePage apologized after storming offstage and calling protesting students “idiots” during a public appearance.

March

Mr. LePage displayed “Wanted”-style posters aimed at environmentalist and union groups during a town meeting, saying those groups were holding the state back.

February

Mr. LePage said asylum-seekers brought disease and the “ziki-fly.” When asked to apologize at an event in June, Mr. LePage did not, and said conditions like hepatitis C and H.I.V. were on the rise in Maine. Mr. LePage also drew criticism that month for appearing to mock a Chinese businessman’s name.

That month, Mr. LePage also delivered his State of the State address in the form of a letter, breaking the tradition of giving a speech to lawmakers. He said it would be “silliness” to address lawmakers who had tried to impeach him.

January

Mr. LePage apologized for a “slip-up” after saying drug-dealers would come from out of state and “impregnate a young white girl” before leaving. The drug dealers, he said, in a comment that was widely perceived as racially charged, “are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty — these types of guys.”

2015

July

Mr. LePage apologized to the son of a cartoonist for The Bangor Daily News because he had told the son he would “like to shoot” his father. That comment drew criticism, with some noting its added insensitivity given the attack at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris earlier that year, although the son said he was not offended.

June

A charter school in Maine said Mr. LePage had threatened to take away its funding if it did not rescind a job offer to the House speaker, Mark Eves, a Democrat.

“The full power of the state was used to put a father of three out of a job because he was a lawmaker who disagrees with the governor on policy,” the editorial board of The Press Herald wrote.

Some Democrats called for impeachment, but an effort to investigate Mr. LePage — which would have been a precursor to impeachment in January 2016 — did not muster enough support for a vote.

May

Mr. LePage vowed to veto all Democratic-sponsored bills until the party accepted his effort to eliminate the state’s income tax. The question of whether Mr. LePage had vetoed 65 bills within the proper time frame ended up in the State Supreme Court, which found that the bills could stand as law.

2013

August

Two lawmakers, who remained anonymous, said they had heard Mr. LePage say at a fund-raiser that President Obama “hates white people.”

June Mr. LePage made a graphically lewd statement about Troy Jackson, a Democrat who was the assistant Senate majority leader at the time. He added that Mr. Jackson was a “bad person” with “no brains” and a “black heart.”

2012

July

Mr. LePage compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo in a radio address. Asked about the comment in a follow-up interview several days later, he said: “What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the I.R.S. is not quite as bad — yet.”

2011

January

Mr. LePage said leaders from the N.A.A.C.P. who had questioned his decision not to attend Martin Luther King’s Birthday events could “kiss my butt.”

2010

September

During his campaign for governor, Mr. LePage told a group of fishermen that he would tell Mr. Obama to “go to hell.”

People like LePage and Trump don’t improve over time, because they don’t learn. If they did, they would not still behave like this at such advanced ages. Thus Governor LePage recently shattered his own record for outrageous conduct, whatever it was, beginning last week.  LePage told a town hall meeting addressing the current heroin-use epidemic in Maine that most drug dealers in the state were black or Hispanic, and that he had a binder to prove it.

Those comments (which were factually incorrect, except that he does keep a binder) were quickly condemned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, which said they encouraged racial profiling, and by State Representative Drew Gattine (among others) who said the remarks were “racially charged.”

Ya think? Nonetheless, the governor went bananas, and left a voice mail message for Gattine including a string of obscene expletives, a threat (“I am after you!”) and the kind of vituperation that would lead me to seek a restraining order if I ever received such a message, which I fortunately have not.  LePage then told reporters that he would like to have a duel with Mr. Gattine and shoot him between the eyes.

He really did. And Maine voters elected this clown!

Two days later, Governor LePage took his binder of drug arrests and mug shots to a news conference, and stated that Maine’s drug crisis was the equivalent of a  war in which combatants must identify and shoot the enemy, which, he said, were “people of color, or people of Hispanic origin.”

This was, not unfairly, interpreted by critics as a call for police to shoot blacks and Hispanics on sight.

This week, at a meeting of New England governors and Canadian provincial premiers in Boston, LePage “clarified” his remarks, saying:

“What I said was this: Meth lab arrests are white. They’re Mainers. The heroin-fentanyl arrests are not white people. They’re Hispanic and they’re black, and they’re from Lowell and Lawrence, Mass.; Waterbury, Conn.; the Bronx and Brooklyn. I didn’t make up the rules. That’s how it turns out. But that’s a fact. It’s a fact. What — do you want me to lie?”

To slightly rephrase the words of Goldfinger to James Bond: “No, Mr. LePage! We want you to resign!

No state, now nor ever, can function and keep the trust of its citizens with a governor who is this much of an idiot. We don’t even have to reach the question of whether he’s a racist, a bigot, or just hasn’t been paying attention for the last 50 years or so. He can’t be trusted. The man’s a moron. Republicans in the state, if they have any integrity or are at least twice as intelligent as LePage, bringing them up to major primate level (chimps, orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas..are gibbons included? I should check…), will join Democrats in a bi-partisan effort to impeach this fool.

They don’t or aren’t, however. From the Portland Press-Herald:

“Tuesday night, Republican leadership of the Maine House announced that their members weren’t going to take any action – as Democratic legislators had strongly urged – shooting down the possibility of convening a special session to address the governor’s behavior.“Gov. LePage has acknowledged he is sorry, we have condemned his words for what he said, he needs to continue to work on that, but as House Republicans we are going to go out there and start talking about the issues and start talking to the voters because we believe that’s what’s important, we are not coming back in for a special session to talk about this,” said House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport.”

Great.

38 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Race

38 responses to “Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R)

  1. JimHodgson

    But…at least he speaks his mind (or whatever fragment of one he possesses). Isn’t that what the sheeple want these days? The party can’t provide enough cover to save this loon if the voters don’t want him.

  2. I really don’t care, and that’s why your other arguments against Trump don’t sway me.

    The Federal Government as a whole could hardly get more stupid or corrupt than they are now anyway. They badly need a shakeup, and if they get shook up replacing one stupid or corrupt person with another just might be worth it. “Conservatives” in the traditional republican mold have ‘conserved’ nothing, and Hillary not only means More of the Same but we know will actively do harm to the Constitution, to individual American’s lives (think she’s going to end the war on college men?) and to the country as a whole.
    When you are heading off a cliff anyway, it’s only logical to try to do something else other than what you are doing. Whether that means voting Trump (to hopefully destroy things or at least one of the major parties) or voting Green or Libertarian I leave up to the individuals conscience.

    • I’m looking forward to comments on this. You’ve used at least three unethical rationalizations. Notably “It’s not the worst thing.”
      It can hardly get any worse is a pretty low standard.

    • So between the Joker and Bane, you pick the Joker?

    • You don’t care when an elected executive with power and responsibility shows that he lacks judgment, civility, common sense and self control? I have to be blunt: there’s no argument; you are an ignorant fool. Any knowledge of history, management, human nature and political theory teaches that such individuals—Le Page, Trump, Caligula, Jo-Jo the Pin Head and assorted other idiots with power—cause unimaginable chaos and destruction.
      Your comment is one dumb statement after another:

      The Federal Government as a whole could hardly get more stupid or corrupt than they are now anyway.

      One of the really stupid rationalizations. Of course it can get worse. Much worse. Go to Africa. Go to South America. This is an assertion in smug defiance of reality.

      They badly need a shakeup, and if they get shook up replacing one stupid or corrupt person with another just might be worth it.

      Per se Moronic…classic nihilism and anarchism, bomb throwing stuff. Burn it down, blow it up–it’s called 5-year-old reasoning. A nation that has thrived and led the world is not a tool shack, you idiot. When you are too dim to solve a problem, you advocate knocking everything down. This is the epitome of Trump supporter reasoning….that is, no reasoning at all.

      “Conservatives” in the traditional republican mold have ‘conserved’ nothing, and Hillary not only means More of the Same but we know will actively do harm to the Constitution, to individual American’s lives (think she’s going to end the war on college men?) and to the country as a whole.

      That’s a scaremongering, non-factual description of Hillary. She’s pandering to the left, because she has no center and no principles. She’s corrupt, but she’s not stupid, and doesn’t want to fail. If I had to guess, I’d say she will flip-flop to a pragmatic Presidency, will not duplicate Obama’s pathetic confrontation averse style, will compromise, will be tougher in foreign affairs (not hard), and is not willing to make the first female Presidency as embarrassing as the first black Presidency. I could be wrong, but that’s the most likely scenario in my analysis, and even the worst case scenario with Hillary is better than the best case with Trump.

      When you are heading off a cliff anyway, it’s only logical to try to do something else other than what you are doing.

      The USA is NOT heading over any cliff. The looming problems left by the current incompetent POTUS are the main dangers—the ridiculous debt, the exploding entitlements, the Obamacare mess, terrorism, illegal immigration, racial divisions, lack of trust in our institutions, the rotting educational system… It will even survive Trump, but there’s no reason to get operable brain cancer when the alternative is slipped disc. The country survived the burning of Washington, Bleeding Kansas, the Civil War, Reconstruction, a stolen election in 1876, four assassinations, WWI, Jim Crow, Harding, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Richard Nixon and Watergate, Carter, 9-11 and Obama. Deciding that this is The End is willfully defeatist and loony.

      Democracy will also have to survive voters like you, who lack the requisite perspective, maturity or analytical ability to be responsible citizens. I;m pretty sure it can and will.

      But I strongly recommend that you do something about your destructive delusions.

  3. Phlinn

    Actually, I’m not sure impeachment is justified. From the Maine constitution:

    Section 5. Removal by impeachment or address. Every person holding any civil office under this State, may be removed by impeachment, for misdemeanor in office; and every person holding any office, may be removed by the Governor on the address of both branches of the Legislature. But before such address shall pass either House, the causes of removal shall be stated and entered on the journal of the House in which it originated, and a copy thereof served on the person in office, that the person may be admitted to a hearing in that person’s own defense.

    • Other Bill

      I think the word “misdemeanor” in this section is the non-legal definition: “an instance of misbehavior; [a] misdeed.” Pretty low bar to clear, no?

  4. Wayne

    I might have done the same to the protesting students if I was Governor of Maine depending on what they were protesting. However his medical knowledge is more than a little lacking: HIV and Hep-C aren’t transmitted by mosquitos. He should be told to put his brain in gear before engaging mouth.

    • valkygrrl

      Sure, in any cross-examination he’d get torn a new…. Oh wait. Uh. Okay in Main it takes a majority in both houses of the legislature and the house has 78 democrats, 69 republicans and four independents. The senate is 15 democrats and 20 republicans so it’d take six to cross the aisle.

  5. valkygrrl

    Those comments (which were factually incorrect, except that he does keep a binder)

    Binders full of drug dealers? What is it with northeastern governors and their binders full of people? What did Eliot Spitzer have binders full of? I wonder.

  6. Arthur in Maine

    Ah, yes – I was wondering if you were going to weigh in on this kerfuffle.

    LePage is an interesting man. He ran away from home at the age of 11, having been repeatedly physically abused by his father. He lived on the streets for a while, and was ultimately taken in by a caring family. He did well in school throughout, and put himself through both BA and MBA programs.

    He became CEO of a successful Maine retail chain that specializes in selling salvaged goods. He became the mayor of Waterville – a small city with a population of 16,000, many of whom are students at the two local colleges.

    Despite the fact that it is, like many college towns, a Democratic stronghold, LePage successfully ran for mayor twice. People knew he was extremely rough around the edges but chalked it up to “Paul being Paul” because he was effective.

    LePage won the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010 with about 35% of the vote in a very crowded field. He was the tea-party favorite, and few of the state’s veteran political handicappers predicted his bid would be successful. In the general, he faced an extremely weak Democratic nominee and a surprisingly strong independent; private polling indicated that had the election been held a few days later, the independent would have won. With that said, LePage didn’t just win the Blaine House – Republicans also captured both houses of the Legislature, wresting the entire elected body of state government from Democrats, who had controlled it for decades. But LePage took office with a 38 percent plurality.

    The congeniality in Waterville was one thing, but state Dems – including its wildly partisan media – were outraged by their loss of control and had the long knives out for him from day one. He gave them plenty of help, though media reports (remember when I said highly partisan?) often took things out of context – for example, he never told the NAACP to “kiss his butt.” When asked a hypothetical, instead of calling it out for the speculative question it was, he told the reporter that if the hypothetical actually happened, THEN the NAACP could kiss his butt. Others of his comments have been equally spun.

    LePage’s 2014 re-election bid brought him just shy of 50%, indicative of the fact that much of the state, though often unimpressed by his bluntness and propensity for saying dumb things, believed he was being reasonably effective in the job (he has done an exceptional job reducing social welfare costs, for example, and as one might expect given his personal history, he’s big into child abuse and drug issues).

    So in certain areas, he’s EXTREMELY competent.

    And less so in others. For example, right after his re-election he unveiled a radical overhaul of the state’s tax system. There was a lot of good stuff in it, but a program that major requires cooperation going in. Rather than create the plan within the context of his party (he lost one chamber of the Legislature upon his re-election), Republican legislators were kept as much in the dark about it as the Dems and were every bit as surprised when it was unveiled. A move like that, certainly, is NOT competent – not within the scope of representative government, anyway. His carefully-crafted plan was pretty much scuttled, and his own party helped to do it. From my perspective, he has no one to blame for that but himself.

    I personally think that on balance history will prove LePage to be one of Maine’s more effective governors, particularly when one looks at the out-of-control growth of the state’s government under his predecessors, which he has brought to heel.

    But there is no question that he lacks the temperament required of high office. One can get away with some of this my-way-or-highway approach in the C-Suite of a privately-held corporation, but executive branch officers certainly need more circumspection than he possesses.

    • pennagain

      Given the list above, it sounds like you’ve been praising with faint damns.

    • Interesting analysis, Arthur. I figured that the truth was somewhere in the middle. He sounds like a gruff fellow with other positive attributes. I found some of his comments posted above amusing from a personal standpoint but as coming from a state governor it is bit hard to take. Texas’ former governor Rick Perry was happy to throw around quaint Texasisms but to an outsider from Ohio I found them annoying. Even though Texas is a weird state where the real power is in the lieutenant governor (because the lieutenant governor gets to set the legislative agenda and recommend bills to present to the state legislature) Perry was popular, serving three full terms from 2002 to 2014, making him the longest serving governor in Texas. He ran for president twice but failed miserably, but he’s going to take a stab at Dancing with the Stars, so all-in-all, he did fairly well for himself.

      jvb

    • Great perspective on this, AIM…I was hoping our blog Maine expert would weigh in. Your comment reminds me of the myth that Bill Clinton is a political genius. Political geniuses don’t get impeached. Effective governors don’t get embroiled in constant scandals because they can’t control themselves. Your last paragraph says it all. Saying someone is an effective governor except that his temperament in unsuited to high office is a bit like saying that someone is a wonderful pilot but bad at landings.

      • Arthur in Maine

        A more accurate analogy would be that he’s a skilled pilot but a disaster wandering around the terminal.

        • Who, LePage? If a pilot wanders around looking drunk in the terminal, they don’t let him fly.

          • Arthur in Maine

            I didn’t say our hypothetical pilot was drunk. Rude, obnoxious, occasionally hostile, particularly towards the junior pilots of other airlines. But there’s only so far one can stretch an analogy.

            (And back to real life, it wouldn’t surprise me if there was some ETOH on board when he left the voicemail).

            • Other Bill

              Pilot analogies aside, given AIM’s report from on the ground down East, it doesn’t sound as if Governor LePage will be impeached.

              • Other Bill

                It is also interesting to note the ubiquitous and savage animosity shown by professional pols toward anyone from business who tries to become involved in government.

  7. Wayne

    He seems like a vulgar, boorish jerk from the quotes you’ve given. Apparently a bunch of students don’t like him much either. Still I’m sure that he doesn’t kick his dog and is kind to small children 😉

  8. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Christie’s big mouth gets all the press, but seriously? Sorry, Paul, but you are a first class moral and ethical dunce. What did he think was going to happen when he left that message? He either was too dumb to know or too angry to care. Either way he can’t lead. He also knows full well it’s NOT 1825 and he can’t pull an Andrew Jackson on a political enemy, so why say so?

    Here’s the thing – to lead you have to lead first by example. Most of us stopped following the bullies after we got out of high school and nobody was going to look the other way on them slamming us up against the lockers every day. Maybe LePage was one of the few bullies who didn’t finally overreach and get taught a lesson early in life, unfortunately I think the age of the bully and the loudmouth is in full swing at this point and he’s just a symptom, not the cause. A culture that encourages trash-talking and crude insults shouldn’t be surprised when that leaks into the politics.

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