I want to respond to the op-ed piece about Gov. Paul LePage, posted April 4, by eight of his Republican colleagues in the Senate.

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

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 LePage.

A mere three months into his term, his Republican colleagues in the Senate are reacting to his disrespectful outbursts out of concern to preserve a tradition as “proud Republicans.”

Therein lies the problem.

As I read the op-ed piece, an image stuck in my mind — the full color, 4-by-6-foot campaign signs on U.S. Route 202 in Manchester with our state senator and LePage.

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 Barack Obama to “go to hell.”

Another thought came to mind as I read the op-ed piece.

On Feb. 11, 2003, the 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.

I served with four of these proud Republicans. With the exception of Sen. Tom Saviello, who was then a Democrat, I cannot recall a single instance when the other three failed to vote with their corner.

I hold all four in the highest respect 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.

Like it or not, LePage is the face of the new Republican Party, not only in Maine, but also 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 LePage has done in the past three months.

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 ol’ boy network, has focused on the problems and is making good progress.

* Mary Mahew, commissioner of the bloated 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 on 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 does interest me is that we start taking our destiny into our own hands rather than waiting for a handout.

To the extent that 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. So, too, I believe, should his Republican colleagues in the Senate, until, that is, he steps over the line of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”


Stan Moody served in the Maine Legislature on both sides of the aisle. He is pastor of the Meeting House Church in Manchester and was most recently a chaplain at Maine State Prison. He has been actively advocating for prison reform in Maine and serves as a board member of Solitary Watch in Washington, D.C.