No food this week, because dumping LePage come November is much more important. I usually don’t talk politics, but recent news items about Michaud and Cutler – and also a look at LePage’s Wikipedia entry (horrifying!!) – stirred my blood up a little.
In recent private conversations* I’ve heard the current “leadership” in Augusta described variously as mondo wacko bizarro and he gives farce a bad name and he’s the political equivalent of rude noises from a plastic ketchup bottle and others slightly less colorful and some unprintable, but darned if he isn’t polling at about 38%, with Mike Michaud slightly ahead of that, and Eliot Cutler barely clinging to Ross Perot numbers, and so before some of us 60% or so go out and try to rescue LePage supporters from the Dark Side (good luck, everyone!!) we have our two fairly gifted and sane and left-leaning candidates duking it out with each other.
From Susan Sharon’s All Things Considered report July 7 on NPR:
… when Michaud served for years in the Maine Legislature [he] voted against legislation to extend civil rights protections to gays and lesbians 19 times. “You know, I don’t care what your sexual preference is and I don’t care whether you’re out or not,” Cutler said. “That was a moment, those were 19 moments, when principle was important and he voted no.”
Michaud’s retort: “My question is: Where were they when we were dealing with these bills in the Legislature? Where were they when we were dealing with them in Congress? I haven’t seen Eliot do anything other than write checks.”
And then, regarding the endorsement of Michaud by Maine’s largest gay rights organization, the Cutler whine. From the same broadcast:
“It pained me … because I had been committed to these issues for as long as I can remember in my life” Cutler said. “And to lose the endorsement to someone who hadn’t, just because he is a) a Democrat and b) gay.”
Sorry about the pain, Eliot, but really guys, knock it off! Of course Eliot writes checks! He’s a businessman and philanthropist!! Of course Mike voted 19 times against gay rights bills, because… well… okay, maybe because his district was largely conservative and didn’t want equal rights for gays? Oh, but then that would be like governing by referendum and not voting your conscience! Darn it, Mike, you can’t be gay and oppose civil rights for gays and lesbians. I mean you can, technically, but you can’t, morally. Can you? (I need to add, I think no one, gay, straight, bi, can oppose civil rights, morally.)
Go to Eliot’s campaign website and try to read his resume (the “about” page) without your jaw dropping to your knees. He’s done a little of everything and a lot of many of them – legal, business, marketing, environmental activism, public service, education, philanthropy… but the main “takeaway” for me is his business dealings, here and in China. And so maybe it’s no surprise that he seems to regard the State of Maine as a kind of corporation that he feels, on his “issues” page, needs branding. Something to be sold as a product. Something with a new, fresh logo and a catchy jingle.
Nonsense. Maine is already self-branded, hugely famous and popular throughout the country and around the world as a one-of-a-kind American destination, culture, tradition, you name it. It sells itself as the “tucked-in-the-upper-righthand-corner-of-the-U.S.-only-single-syllable-state” last refuge of Yankee ingenuity and self-reliance right next to Canada lobster and forest products and most vacation homes per capita, on and on it can go. So dump the branding initiative, Eliot. It’ll be tantamount to Coke’s 1985 launch of New Coke – known as the hugest marketing calamity in marketing history. There isn’t a branded Maine or a New Maine, there’s just Maine.
three guys by the numbers…
So here they are, chafing at each other, and the only thing that counts in this race is the image below:
Truth be known, Eliot, if it were just you and Mike in this race
I’d lean towards you – mostly because of your consistent conscience and convictions. But there’s this third guy, this mondo wacko bizarro red line in the graph, and we just can’t afford another four years of him. The green line is not going to rise. The red line might. Beyond ego and vanity, neither of which I’ve perceived very much in you, there is no good reason to stay in this thing, and one enormous reason not to.
Please quit. Eloquently, courageously, gracefully, but please quit. Soon.
* some of those conversations were with myself, I believe.
UPDATE 7/16: This is partly in response to the comment, below: The more I read about Eliot the less I like him. Reading recent news posts, “The Real Eliot Cutler” from maindems.org, and Eric Russell’s June 22 piece in the Press Herald, I had to strike through the “consistent conscience and convictions” statement, above. Lower the income tax and raise the sales tax? That’s a slam on the poor and middle class, and always has been. Raising the retirement age for public employees to save money? That’s just mean. Opposing a state measure to increase the minimum wage? Giving money to both pro-life and pro-choice candidates? And actually siding with some LePage policies?
“He’s done a lot of things I would have done if I’d been governor.” (cutleronpage.mp4)
So this “moderate” candidate just shifted (for me) hard enough to the right to flirt with Tea Party territory, especially on issues affecting working and poor people.
No thanks, Eliot. And if you stay in this race and act the spoiler come November – like Nader in 2000 – you won’t be anything to the State of Maine but an enduring political pariah.