Hostility is often the reward for speaking the truth. I have always valued it as such, and aim to start right off by boasting that I decided Paul LePage ought to run for governor before he decided himself.

I’m not absolutely certain that this is true, but I am certain it will provoke instant hostility in some readers. That makes a good start.

As chairman of the Republican platform committee, a GOP county chairman, and a former congressional candidate, my pro-LePage stance probably comes as no surprise. As evidence that my support is not merely ex officio, however, I note that I delivered the introductory speech when LePage announced his candidacy.

Those who remember my service as this paper’s “conservative columnist” in 2005 will recognize my philosophical affinity with the governor, although I could have supported any of the contestants in the 2010 Republican primary. In fact, I believe Bill Beardsely is at least as conservative as LePage and maybe a tad more.

I support LePage for other, more personal reasons. A long drive to Bangor and back with LePage solidified my conviction that he was the man for the job.

Our conversation was not about philosophy, but about his managerial methods and experience as consultant, manager and mayor. What came across was an absolute zeal for efficiency and clear ideas about how it is achieved. Ann LePage confirmed that for her husband a managerial/bureaucratic mess was as good as a Christmas present. Cleaning it up gives him real pleasure.

One of the things that stood out in my mind was LePage’s recognition that there is a wealth of ideas and experiences to found below the managerial level, among those who do the actual work.

I have a story that confirms LePage’s willingness to listen to good ideas from any source. This spring, I introduced our governor to a woman who had been a beneficiary and a victim of the welfare systems in both Maine and New York.

Having broken free from the system, she had a lot to say about the severity of the rules in New York and the leniency in Maine. She knows what works, and she has seen many of the scams. LePage gave her half an hour of close attention, took careful notes throughout and asked for the crib sheet she had carefully prepared.

This is one of LePage’s salient qualities: He seeks information; he listens; he pays attention; and he takes notes, lots of notes.

Another thing that impressed me from the beginning was his office at Mardens. It was a plain, unadorned place for work. I remembered reading a book by Professor C. Northcote Parkinson 50 years ago, in which he argued that lavish and finicky attention to an organization’s office spaces was a sure sign of decline. This may seem trivial, but it can be taken as a sign of neglect of substantive business.

I toured the governor’s bookcases in Waterville; he has hundreds of volumes, mostly historical with some about economics and management.

He knows the state and U.S. constitutions. He has read the Federalist Papers. The fact that he had books by liberal writers in his library particularly impressed me since I’ve met only a handful of liberals who have ever read a single book by a conservative author.

The loathing of LePage’s enemies will be confirmed when I report that I saw no poetical works or art books on those shelves.

Some may believe his energy is misdirected, but they can hardly deny that a man who at one point was simultaneously managing Mardens, running Waterville and campaigning has an abundance of energy.

I know some people don’t want to hear any more talk about LePage’s rise from being a street urchin to governor, but can we agree (just in passing) that this demonstrated a determination, initiative and native intelligence that has few parallels?

Yes, he really did effectively adopt an adolescent from Jamaica, feed him, clothe him, give him shelter and see him along to college. Maybe he deserves a little credit, a tiny bit, for benevolence.

The lad showed no interest in high school. He was a lot more interested in golfing. So Paul and his wife subscribed to every golfing magazine in the English language. This made him a reader and reading made him into a successful student.

These examples are all part of the LePage story. They are insufficient grounds for a definite judgment. That depends on the final outcomes of his administration. They are simply a part of the total picture that the impeachment-freaks and recall fantasists can never bring themselves to accept, weigh or recognize.

Now that the Mural Majority has exhausted its passion, the LePage-phobes will concentrate their wrath on Norman Olsen’s resignation. I don’t know the man. Don’t know the circumstances. All I can say is that his lengthy letter of resignation points an accusatory finger at the governor and at other shadowy forces that remain nameless.

John Frary of Farmington is a former congressional candidate and retired history professor, a board member of Maine Taxpayers United and an associate editor of the International Military Encyclopedia. Email to [email protected]

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