Now don’t get me wrong here. I say this with the utmost respect.
Bangor City Councilor Charlie Longo needs an intervention.
This week Longo took the opportunity at a City Council meeting to tap on his microphone and accuse Gov. Paul LePage of spending too much time bellied up to the bar to get any real work done.
He prefaced his gossipy statement, which he admitted came only from the rumor mill, with the announcement that while he was calling the governor a lush, he was doing so with the utmost respect.
His comments were so outrageous, inflammatory and stupid that even fellow Councilor Joe Baldacci, whose negative feelings about LePage are well known, raised his hand seemingly trying to put a stop to the madness.
Longo offered to meet with LePage at the Sea Dog or even at Bangor’s only gentleman’s club, Diamonds, if that’s what it took to get the work of the people done.
When confronted by fellow councilors he defended himself by saying he was doing the work of his constituents.
He since has apologized.
Thankfully, he knew enough to do that.
LePage was asked about it and basically told a reporter he couldn’t care less.
Finally, our governor responds appropriately.
Who knew it would take Longo to make LePage look level-headed.
Of course there were those responders online who thought Longo had done just fine. LePage, they argued, had done worse. They cited the many comments the governor has made demeaning his opponents, the president, and any ideas that weren’t his own.
They are right. LePage doesn’t speak well. He is seen by many if not most as a bully and mean-spirited and as a man who speaks before he thinks.
So I argue that perhaps he is not a man to aspire to emulate.
Perhaps it was LePage’s failings and his many vocal detractors that provided Longo with the bravado he needed to make such a statement.
That, Mr. Longo, is lowering yourself to the least common denominator.
It is not becoming.
Yours were the words of an amateur.
Of course Longo is not alone.
Right now even our most seasoned political leaders seem to be more concerned with issuing low blows to their opponents than really doing the people’s work.
It takes great character and wisdom to stay above the fray and do the work that fixes the problem.
I’m not sure when I last heard a great and inspiring political speech.
Respect, even for the office of the governor or the president, seems to be waning.
On the wall right beside our bathroom mirror hangs a copy of an old and weathered poem written by Rudyard Kipling.
We hung it there many, many years ago in that place with purpose.
I’m not a politician, nor will I ever be, but I’ll offer it up as a suggestion to Longo.
A sort of subtle intervention if you will.
Kipling’s poem “If” begins with, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for the doubting too; If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies.”
It finishes with this.
“And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Longo was foolish this week. He’s young. His first three-year term on the City Council is up this year. It is up to us, and perhaps to him, whether he gets a second term.
I say, this, of course, with the utmost respect.