March 21, 2018
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LePage gets wake-up call from fellow Republicans

By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

Let’s be clear right up front.

I am in no way suggesting that Gov. Paul LePage smoked any of that Jamaican wacky weed while he was vacationing there last week.

No, sir. I am not.

Nor does it appear that he had his hair braided while lying on those beautiful Jamaican beaches.

No dreadlocks for him, and I think that probably was a wise idea on his part.

But maybe, just maybe, he was touched by the Rastafarian spirit.

Because presumably he’s returned as a more “understanding governor who realizes his words have an effect on those who are on his side.”

Although his staff has not said so directly, it seems they are suggesting that our governor may try to refrain from telling the president of the United States to go to hell, to find a better way to communicate with the NAACP other than telling the group’s leaders to kiss his butt, and may regret calling those who protested the removal of the Department of Labor mural a bunch of idiots worthy of being scoffed at.

Perhaps all this dawned on him as he rested and recreated in that infamous laid-back Jamaican atmosphere listening to Bob Marley tunes.

It’s a nice thought. But, of course, it is not true.

Nothing dawned on our governor. No true personal regret for the way he talks to people suddenly flooded his consciousness.

LePage got a wake-up call on the Op-Ed pages of most major Maine newspapers by eight GOP senators who finally found the nerve to admit that their guy in the Blaine House was a bully.

No, they didn’t say that.

They said that they were increasingly uncomfortable and dismayed at his tone and the spirit of his remarks. They indicated he was demeaning to others and made people afraid to share their ideas for fear of being laughed at and publicly ridiculed. They said he belittles people who don’t agree with him and has fostered an atmosphere of “government by disrespect.” They said he picks personal fights not worth fighting.

I took the liberty of summarizing those words and coming up with my own. Bully!

On the first episode of “LePage TV,” the governor continued to stress his campaign slogan, “people before politics,” the same slogan used by dozens of candidates across the nation last fall, by the way.

But LePage has clearly demonstrated that the only “people” who are going to come before his politics are the ones who agree with him. Those who don’t are clearly candidates for public mockery.

Bullying 101.

Those eight GOP senators who signed in support of this week’s Op-Ed piece fired a shot directly across the bow of LePage’s ship.

He didn’t call them names. He didn’t threaten to ruin their political careers. He didn’t tell them to kiss anything.

His office simply said that the senators had a “valid point of view” and that it was important to “get back on topic and move on.”

And later this week, when he signed the bill that would put an end to a ridiculous environmental law prohibiting fishermen from storing lobster traps on fishing piers, LePage said, “This is just one example of the good work our legislators are doing to remove unnecessary regulations which will ease the burden on working families.”

See that. What a nice thing he did there. Do you suppose his gracious bow to the work of the Legislature was simply a coincidence?

Most psychologists will tell you that bullies generally lack self-confidence, that they bully others to make up for their own perceived shortcomings.

LePage entered the Blaine House in a stellar position in many ways. He was taking over from what many believed was a lacking Democratic administration and he was buoyed by a Republican-dominated Legislature.

He was indeed the big boy on the playground with what he perceived as a willing Republican majority at his back.

On Monday, LePage and the people of this state heard the warning shot.

The big fella might want to just start watching his step. Because there really is nothing as ineffective or weak as a big bully left alone on the playground without a posse at his back.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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