A year ago, on the Friday before Martin Luther King Day, Gov. Paul LePage delivered a vulgar on-camera insult to the NAACP that has dogged him throughout his first year in office, and probably will stay with him for his whole administration.

We don’t have to repeat it: It was included in every published account of the governor’s tumultuous first year in office, and it’s regularly brought up as an example of his shoot-first, think-later style.

How the statement was received depended on where people sat politically: Some loved it, and wrote letters to the editor praising LePage for not kowtowing to a political organization. Many more were appalled and demanded that the governor apologize for insulting a civil rights organization, especially on the holiday honoring one of America’s martyrs to civil rights. That organization is still waiting for an apology.

This year, the governor again declined the invitation to the King Day breakfast in Portland. Instead, as he did last year, LePage plans to spend it at one in Waterville hosted by the Rotary Club.

The fact that he has done it without insulting anyone is an improvement, but we think LePage is missing an important opportunity to show leadership.

A year into his term, LePage still is dividing the state into friends and enemies and speaking only to his base. He pits one side against the other, and blames one group for the problems of the rest.

Even his call for lawmakers to put aside their partisan differences and work together on the state’s problem MaineCare budget has to be tempered by his constantly blaming Democrats for being the cause of those problems.

On Monday, LePage has an opportunity to end the war of words for one day. It would mean going to Portland, a place he reportedly doesn’t much like, and appear as the guest of an organization that advocates for immigrants, minorities and poor people who have been hurt by LePage’s policy initiatives.

It’s easy to see why he would want to stay away. If LePage changed his mind and went to the breakfast, however, he would send a powerful message: We are a state with great challenges but that there are times when we put our differences aside.

It would show that the governor represents all the people, not just the ones who vote for him.

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