Waterville Mayor Paul LePage (R) said 10/7 in a forum “sponsored by” the Southern ME Chapter “of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers” that ME should “sue the federal” gov’t “over health care reform.” LePage: “I fear the federal program. It’s rationed care. It scares me.” LePage also said “he believes the federal law violates the constitution.”
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LePage: “We can join the other 20 states to challenge Obamacare because, quite frankly, I believe it to be unconstitutional.”
‘84 SEN nominee/‘90 ME-01 candidate/state Senate Pres./ex-state House Speaker Libby Mitchell (D) “said exchanges called for in the federal law will allow people to buy insurance if they can’t afford it on the individual market.” Mitchell: “The exchanges for the first time will give us an opportunity to have a great big pool. That’s my goal: to make sure no one in Maine goes without proper access to health care at an affordable rate.”
Atty/ex-OMB Assoc. Dir. for Natural Resources, Energy and Science/Jimmy Carter ex-aide Eliot Cutler (I), on the reform: “Our objective in the state of Maine is to create a healthy work force and a healthy population. We need to provide access to health care services to everyone in the state” (Cover, Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 10/8).
He’ll Take The Money
GOP state lawmakers “staged a news conference 10/7 “to rebut claims that” LePage “would refuse federal education dollars if elected,” a charge “made by” Mitchell “in recent” TV spots.”
State Sen. Carol Weston (R): “Paul will make sure our teachers, kids and classrooms will have the resources they need for success. For four decades, Libby Mitchell and the unions have been the face of education. Paul LePage will finally make our kids, our students, the face of education in Maine” (Metzler, Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 10/8).
There Goes The All-Important Bowdoin Vote
The ME College Dems took LePage “to task” 10/7 over “comments he made about student voting” in ‘05. ME College Dems pres./UMaine student Bed Goodman: “In a 2005 debate, Mayor LePage said essentially that he didn’t believe that college students should participate in local elections, should go out and vote, unless they did two things: They should pay property taxes in town or they should register their car. … But Paul LePage doesn’t register his car, he drives a company car; and he doesn’t pay property taxes. … Students have a constitutional right to go out and vote in elections”
LePage spokesperson Dan Demeritt: “His point is, maybe draw a line between the local races and the state and national races. Before students come in and swamp the (election) results for people who are going to be living and paying taxes in the community — long after the college students have graduated — those kids maybe need to have more stake in the community before they can vote in just those local elections” (Metzler, Central Maine Morning Sentinel, 10/8).
“There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”
Jim Hightower, a committed liberal and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, liked to say this so much that he finally used it as a title for a book.
I was reminded of this tart assessment this week as I watched two skilled politicians attempt to negotiate a growing chasm opening under their feet. One of them, GOP Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, slipped and fell. The other, President Obama, appeared to leap nimbly to the other side of the sinkhole just before it swallowed him up.
Right up until the morning of the day when Obama stopped evolving and declared his support for same-sex marriage, there was still a vigorous debate under way over whether the political downside was worth the risk.
The night before, North Carolina voters became the 39th state to make gay marriage illegal. Time and again, the people who tell pollsters they increasingly support gay marriage have been outnumbered at the ballot box.
Plus, the president’s base was split. Gay Democrats wanted his support, while many older, religious African-Americans did not want him to publicly affirm support for gay marriage. There was an argument to be made for leaving the whole thing up to the states and taking no position on the issue until after the fall election.
This appeared to be the settled course until Vice President Joe Biden cleared his throat.
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” he declared on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.”
By framing his support in the context of marriage rather than civil unions, the vice president “got out a little bit over his skis,” as the president later described it. Since it’s really hard to ski backwards, the spotlight turned back to the White House.
Within hours of Biden’s comments, both gay-marriage supporters and opponents began to characterize the president’s continued evolutionary reticence as hypocritical. Both sides believed the president was cloaking his true views for political reasons.
So when the president did weigh in — inviting ABC’s Robin Roberts to come to town for a chat — he decided to endorse gay marriage — with the caveat that it remains a states’ rights issue.
He attributed his decision to friends, staff, neighbors, soldiers, firefighters, and even to his daughters — who, judging by his frequent references to them these days — are the most influential offspring since Amy Carter.
“The winds of change are happening,” the president said. “They’re not blowing with the same force in every state. But I think that what you’re going to see is states coming to the realization that if a soldier can fight for us, if a police officer can protect our neighborhoods, if a firefighter is expected to go into a burning building to save our possessions or our kids, the notion that after they were done with that, that we’d say to them, “˜Oh, but by the way, we’re going to treat you differently.’ As more and more folks think about it, they’re going to say, you know, ‘That’s not who we are.’ “
Richard Lugar was not so fortunate at maneuvering his way out of a sticky political situation. Nearly four decades in Washington caught up with him.
Greg Fettig, the tea party activist who cofounded Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, worked around the clock to defeat Lugar, settling on eventual winner Richard Mourdock as his weapon of political destruction.
Fettig told me on Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour that “what you saw last night was really a purity purging” of what he called establishment moderates.
Lugar was clearly unequipped for such a fight, and he was bitter after his thumping, 20-point defeat. He even skipped the traditional unity news conference held the next day.
“Partisan groups, including outside groups that spent millions against me in this race “¦ have worked to make it as difficult as possible for a legislator of either party to hold independent views or engage in constructive compromise,” he said in a stinging election-night memo. “If that attitude prevails in American politics, our government will remain mired in the dysfunction we have witnessed during the last several years. And I believe that if this attitude expands in the Republican Party, we will be relegated to minority status. Parties don’t succeed for long if they stop appealing to voters who may disagree with them on some issues.”
Lugar may be right, but his point of view is increasingly being ushered to the sidelines as other moderates like Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, leave Congress.
Barack Obama may have proved Jim Hightower wrong this week, negotiating the double yellow line with finesse. But Lugar was the dead armadillo.
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