Politics & Other Mistakes: Wit and wisdom of Paul LePage, 2022 edition

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There are those who believe that listening to the campaign pronouncements of Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage is a lot like listening to a drunk guy in a bar, pontificating loudly on subjects he lost his grip on four or five beers ago.

This is unfair. To drunk guys.

Al DiamonThe inebriated barfly has a legitimate excuse for saying stupid stuff. He’s blitzed. LePage, who spent eight years as Maine’s governor, could be presumed to have a working knowledge of how government works. He could also be presumed not to have spent the entire day chasing cheap drafts with shots of well whiskey.

These presumptions do little to explain why LePage so often comes off sounding like a besotted dolt. That leaves us with little choice but to consider an alternative explanation:

Maybe he is a dolt.

There’s early evidence to support such a conclusion. Before LePage even announced his campaign for a third nonconsecutive term in the Blaine House, he was spewing quotes that would have embarrassed the average boozer to such an extent that he’d have paid his tab and gone off to find an AA meeting.

Last December, the Bangor Daily News asked LePage about giving COVID-19 vaccines to children. He said that was a bad idea. “What you should do is let them all (catch the virus), get that natural immunity, and that’s when you’re going to achieve herd immunity,” Dr. LePage proclaimed.

In January, LePage offered a further medical breakthrough. He told the Bangor paper that before someone could receive any form of welfare, they should have to prove they were vaccinated. “It’s unconscionable that you will be fired, you will lose your job if you don’t get vaccinated,” he said, “but (for) people who are taking services, taxpayer dollars, there’s not even a request to get vaccinated.”

LePage then added that he was “clearly against mandates in all respects.”

In February, LePage characterized Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ proposal to return much of the state budget surplus to taxpayers in the form of refund checks as “funny money,” apparently unaware the idea originally came from legislative Republicans.

In April, LePage claimed that 163,000 people who voted in Maine during the 2020 election had no valid driver’s licenses. This was evidence, he said, of voter fraud. Maine, like every other state, doesn’t require voters to learn to drive. He also dredged up a myth from 2009 about busloads of Massachusetts residents arriving here to vote illegally in the same-sex marriage referendum. He offered zero evidence to support this claim, which the secretary of state’s office labeled a “blatant lie.”

More from April. At the opening of a GOP-sponsored “multicultural center” in Portland, the former governor told reporters, “I endorse and I love refugees. What I have a problem with is with fentanyl coming in, human trafficking coming in. That part of the southern border I have a real, real problem with, but the people coming in, I endorse them and I love them.”

LePage has repeatedly said he doesn’t consider asylum seekers to be legal immigrants.

For several weeks, the Maine Monitor has been publishing in-depth stories about officials at county jails illegally recording phone conversations between prisoners and their lawyers. When a Monitor reporter asked LePage about the issue, he said he didn’t know anything about it. Because why would somebody who wants to be governor pay attention to that?

After getting a brief explanation of the problem, LePage knew who to blame. “The lawyers should be making sure they’re not being recorded,” he said. “If the attorney represents this individual, the attorney then can’t be so reckless.”

Throughout the campaign, LePage has attempted to cast himself as neutral on abortion, which is at odds with his long history of being opposed to the practice. In that light, let’s consider this statement he gave to Maine Public in July:

“It is legal. Nobody is saying they are going to reverse it.”

Yes, Paul, they are.

LePage should start following the news because making nonsensical comments like that makes him sound like some drunk in a bar.

Sober up, then email me at [email protected].