Send in the clowns


Nothing says civility like a heavily armed National Guard unit.

If you’re concerned that social conventions in the United States might be breaking down, fear no more. Paul LePage, Maine’s Republican governor and reptilian invasive species, announced during a recent radio interview that he’s considered employing the military to deal with “an internal domestic problem.”

I had one of those. But a couple boxes of d-Con took care of it.

To be fair to the governor (I’m not smirking, I swear), it’s unclear from his remarks whether he actually intends to employ troops to suppress dissent. He could just be incoherent.

“I think we’re developing an internal domestic problem that, I’m told, that I think that the military, I’m deploying them,” he said. “I’m asking the National Guard to help us with. And that is the anger in our country.”

I’m going with incoherent.

Except then there was this somewhat more comprehensible opinion on the political rhetoric LePage encountered on recent visits to Washington, D.C.:

“I just think that if that’s where our country is headed, our government is going to fail.”

Will that be different from the way things are now?

LePage said he wasn’t advocating using the Guard to stop all disagreements, only those with which he disagrees: “They just won’t give you the normal respect that the office deserves.”

Within hours of his interview becoming public, the governor’s press office issued its usual series of denials, reversals, clarifications and other sludge indicating that everything LePage said was to be disregarded.

Otherwise, you might get a visit from the Guard.

A few days after LePage’s latest outburst, the Maine Sunday Telegram ran an in-depth article claiming the governor “appears to be polishing his rougher edges.” The paper attributed LePage’s “more statesman-like” demeanor to either a desire to land a job in the Trump administration (do they need a prison warden at Guantanamo?) or his promise to seek “spiritual guidance” after an incident last year in which he left a voice mail message for a Democratic legislator containing language worthy of a Trump conversation with Billy Bush. Since then, according to the Telegram, the kinder, gentler LePage has been on his best behavior.

Well, except for …

Saying in the same radio interview that the GOP state senator who sponsored a bill to move Maine to the Atlantic Time Zone must be “insane.” “The person who proposed that, we ought to call for a therapy session,” LePage said. “This is crazy.”

In a different radio interview, he referred to all the state’s constitutional officers for the past half-century as “aging ideologues.” He made no exception for former state treasurer and current Republican Congressman Bruce Poliquin. Which seems reasonable.

He sued Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills, ostensibly because she refused to represent him in several lawsuits he’s filed that have cost the state almost $400,000 for outside lawyers, but also possibly because Mills may run for governor, and a court case might stir up some dirt.

Another radio interview, another pleasantry: On May 9, LePage said House Speaker Sara Gideon’s welfare-reform bill was designed to keep people on public assistance “so that they can guarantee their votes” for Democrats.

During a town meeting in Fort Kent last month, LePage claimed the new higher tax on rich people to pay for schools that was approved in referendum in November applied to the entire income of anyone earning more than $200,000 per year. When an audience member correctly pointed out that the surcharge only affected amounts over $200,000, LePage insisted otherwise. “It’s the full $200,000,” he said. “It’s 10 percent for the full amount, sir.” Polite touch, that “sir.”

In Washington to lobby against the Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument, LePage testified before a congressional committee that the 87,000 acres east of Baxter State Park was a “mosquito area” and claimed incorrectly that hunting and snowmobiling were banned within its confines. He called the monument designation a “federal land grab,” even though the property was gifted to the feds by the previous owner. One observer characterized his testimony as that of “a cranky dingus.”

Fortunately, the governor has the right to say whatever he chooses, free from interference from reality.

Or the National Guard.

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