Dear Governor LePage,

So there I was on Saturday, wrapping up a weeklong vacation with the final chapter of a great book, “The Johnstown Flood,” by a great part-time Mainer, David McCullough of Camden.

“Boy does this guy have a way with words,” I thought to myself. “Not to mention his command of history.”

Closing the book, I figured it was time to check in on the news. And as always, Governor, you were atop the headlines, snarling for my attention.

Let me make sure I got this right: You’re apoplectic (sorry, that’s a McCullough-type word meaning “really PO’d”) at the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

No surprise there, Big Guy. You hate “Obamacare” because … because … because “We hate Obamacare!” is right up there at the top of the Republican National talking points. (Which is kind of ironic, since many of the initiatives enshrined in the new health-care law were Republican ideas to begin with.)

Man, I wish I’d been a fly on your office wall last week when Adrienne Bennett, your newly promoted communications director (see: Mission Impossible) dropped off the prepared text for your weekly Saturday radio address on how the Supreme Court’s ruling marks the end of the free world as we know it.

Now Ms. Bennett, to her credit, did what she’s paid to do — discern what she thinks is on your mind (see: Hubble Space Telescope) and turn it into intelligent, civil discourse on an issue that is as complex as it is controversial. That’s no easy feat — especially considering your contempt for words that exceed 12 letters or four syllables, whichever comes first.

But Ms. Bennett’s words, while perfectly clear and on point, weren’t quite you, were they, Governor? They lacked that trademark stupidity that you and only you spew so effortlessly week in and week out, one eruption after another, after another … (see: Old Faithful).

So you got out your Sharpie. And when you got to the part where health-care freeloaders will be forced to pay penalties to the Internal Revenue Service for failing to obtain insurance like the rest of us, you inserted “the new Gestapo” right before the IRS.

Now I’m no David McCullough, Governor, but I’m pretty darned sure that the Gestapo specialized in imprisoning, torturing and killing helpless Jews and other oppressed minorities per order of Adolph Hitler during World War II. And I definitely know that had nothing to do with collecting penalties (or, if you prefer, taxes) as the IRS does.

Literary types might call your Gestapo reference a mixed metaphor. But not me, Governor. After almost two years of this stuff, I’m convinced you wouldn’t know a mixed metaphor if it walked up and hit you like a freight train.

No, I think it’s nothing more than plain old, ignorant trash talk. The language spoken by your peeps, right Governor?

I know, your loyal base has loved you every step along this rhetorically hysterical journey — from the (mercifully unfulfilled) campaign promise to tell President Obama to “go to hell,” to the suggestion that the NAACP “kiss my butt,” to the women who “may have little beards” if they put a plastic bottle in the microwave, to all the “corrupt” middle managers in state government …

And that’s just the stuff that made headlines!

Heck, just before I went on vacation, I got hold of a note you dashed off to state Sen. John Patrick, D-Rumford. It seems he had the gall to send an email to his constituents criticizing your refusal to issue any of the bonds on this November’s ballot — even if voters approve them.

Your handwritten response (on gubernatorial stationery, no less) to Sen. Patrick: “John — You are a bald face liar and cheat! Character eludes you. It is up to the Governor’s discretion on when bonds are sold, he has five years. Paul.”

You might want to dial down on that “five years” reference, Big Guy. But just to be fair, I was pleasantly surprised by your spot-on use of the verb “eludes.”

But there’s a bigger point here, Governor. It’s one that I’m afraid gets drowned out whenever you go all ignoramus on us and the only thing you can hear is that chorus of steadfast supporters screaming, “You tell ’em, Paul! It’s about time we had a Guvnah who speaks from the hip!” (Or at least from that general vicinity.)

I just typed “LePage” into Google News, and so far 315 articles have been written about your recent misuse of the word “Gestapo.” They range from the Washington Post to the Times of Israel to an Internet publication called American Thinker — which, I’m willing to bet, is a website you haven’t bookmarked.

Put more simply, Governor, you’ve got the whole world talking. Again.

And as much as I suspect that you’re the type who revels in any and all attention you can bring to yourself (see: screaming child in checkout line), the simple truth is that the vast majority of people out there are neither cheering nor laughing along with you.

They’re laughing at you, Governor. What’s worse, they’re laughing at Maine.

Where all of this is headed is anyone’s guess. But if your Republican Party loses control of one or both houses of the Legislature this fall — and many predict it will — I’ll find myself thinking about the poor people of Johnstown, Pa., back in 1889.

As McCullough so masterfully recalls, many of those folk knew long before the apocalyptic flood that they had a big problem in that unstable South Fork Dam that loomed high above Johnstown in the Allegheny Mountains. But nobody did anything about it.

Here in Maine, we shake our heads at the babble seeping from the Blaine House. And we wonder how long before the chief executive with a spillway for a mouth bursts from the sheer weight of his own vitriol and leaves all of Maine to wallow in his disgrace.

Speaking of good summer reading, Governor, I’m sure there’s a corker waiting to be written about you.

It could focus on how your life, from the streets of Lewiston to the nasty notes to respected public servants to the “Gestapo “in Washington, D.C., has become an ever-deepening reservoir of anger.

And how, in the end, you drowned in it.


Bill Nemitz — 791-6323

[email protected]


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