Politics & Other Mistakes: Shawn of the (brain) dead


Even though lots of Republicans have never heard of him, and his name’s not even on the ballot, a big chunk of the GOP faithful will end up voting for Brent Littlefield for governor.

While Littlefield isn’t technically a candidate, he’s very much in the running for the state’s highest office. He’s just employing a surrogate he controls through electrodes implanted in his creature’s brain.

You may have heard of Littlefield’s golem. His name is Shawn Moody, and he’s been a member of the GOP less time than it takes to have a baby. And like a slightly premature infant, he doesn’t do much thinking on his own.

Moody, who founded a chain of vehicle repair centers, ran for governor in 2010 as an affable but clueless independent, spending a lot of his own money to earn hardly any votes. But he did manage to enhance his image as a nice guy, who probably wouldn’t screw you over if you had a dented fender fixed.

That reputation didn’t escape Littlefield’s notice. The Washington-based political consultant is chiefly responsible for getting Paul LePage elected and re-elected governor, as well as transforming Bruce Poliquin from an obnoxious little twerp who couldn’t win a race for septic inspector into an obnoxious little twerp who could win a race for Congress.

In short, Littlefield is good at what he does, which is to re-imagine politically inept conservatives as electable life forms. When he took a look at Moody, he saw plenty of political ineptness. Trouble was, Moody wasn’t much of a conservative. In his previous run for governor, he’d been sort of pro-choice on abortion, kind of in favor of ranked-choice voting and wishy-washy on gun rights (from a recent radio interview: “a fire extinguisher can be a great deterrent if somebody gets out of control”) and evasive on most other hot-button issues. He’d even donated money to a Democratic legislative candidate in 2016.

No problem for a genius like Littlefield. He placed Moody in his patented brainwashing device and wiped away any opinions he’d previously held, of which there weren’t many. Then, he reprogrammed Shawn-matronic to blather on about how his “religious convictions” led him to become a Republican last October. “You look at my life,” Robo-Moody told the Bangor Daily News. “We make a commitment and stand by it.”

Unless it involves previously held positions that wouldn’t play well in the GOP primary.

Littlefield’s mind-control device must be pretty sophisticated. When Moody talks, he doesn’t even have hyphens between his words.

Unfortunately, Moody’s newly installed artificial intelligence still contains a few glitches that show up when he’s forced to respond to questions about complex state issues. So far during debates, he hasn’t actually frozen while repeating, “That-does-not-compute.” But observers have sometimes reported smelling the acrid odor of circuits burning.

Asked about health care, he told the Maine Sunday Telegram that the Affordable Care Act had been designed to be “too big to fail,” but then added, somewhat contradictorily, that it was “collapsing under its own weight.”

On legal marijuana, he’s quoted in an Associated Press story as saying we need “safe and productive workplaces.”

He told a New Hampshire newspaper he’d address the opiate crisis with increased law enforcement and “peer-to-peer recovery efforts, similar to AA.” He also noted that he donated a vehicle to the Gorham Police Department for the D.A.R.E. program in 1994. And he might, for some reason, support a few “Cabinet changes.”

As far as I can tell, his answer to the question of how he would fund and implement voter-approved Medicaid expansion has something to do with fixing the referendum process.

Asked by a radio talk show host to explain these weird comments, Moody said, “I’m a deep thinker. I see things probably differently than a lot of people do.”

Translation: His thinking is muddled, but he sees things exactly the way Littlefield has programmed him to.

Of course, none of this issue stuff matters much. What GOP voters seem to want in a candidate for high public office is for him to have absolutely no experience. In other words, the quality they’re most concerned about is that the next governor be an unqualified political outsider like Mannequin Moody.

Fortunately, Shawn-bot won’t need to know what he’s doing. Littlefield will be hiding in the Blaine House shadows operating his brain for him.

Programming note: I was recently a guest on Bates College Professor Michael Sargent’s podcast “Tatter” discussing the 2nd Congressional District race. You can listen at https://tatter.fireside.fm/10 or on iTunes.

Electrify my inbox by emailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.