LePage tells newspapers to drop dead as another GOP governor pursues people’s health

BDN photo by Gabor Degre.

BDN photo by Gabor Degre.

What a contrast: As Gov. LePage said it’s a plague that newspapers are “still alive,” another Republican governor is pursuing a policy that will save lives and improve health.

In deep red Wyoming, Republican Gov. Matt Mead has started negotiating with federal officials on expanding Medicaid. Like Maine, the state hospital association supports an expansion, which would reduce uncompensated care and make preventive care more available, reducing overall costs and human suffering.

LePage made his comments on a day when his electoral opponents were talking about policies to help Maine people. Eliot Cutler sketched out proposals on welfare reform. Mike Michaud put out a detailed plan, comprehensive plan to support Maine agriculture and make Maine New England’s food basket.

As LePage’s challengers and Wyoming look to solutions, LePage continues his intense rhetoric

Gov. LePage has again made it clear that he really doesn’t like Maine newspapers.

No, he hasn’t joked about blowing up the headquarters of the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News again, as he did last August.

This time LePage said:

“The worst part of my life is newspapers are still alive — sorry, I had to say it.”

Evidently papers are so painful to the governor that he thinks it would be better if they were gone, along with their many jobs.

Maine’s economy is lagging behind the rest of New England’s. Families are having trouble paying bills and getting health care. LePage blocked Medicaid expansion, making life harder for low-income working families.

But, according to the governor, “the worst part of his life” isn’t anything he’s grappling with to help Maine, nor anything just among his family and friends.

Instead, LePage’s plague is the papers.

The politics of this are clear

Trashing newspapers rally LePage’s base which, depending on how the Michaud-Cutler vote is split, is enough for him to get re-elected.

LePage’s supporters love this sort of thing. The impact on a strong supporter is to help keep the governor, as LePage put it, “in your heart.”

(That “in your heart” phrase, by the way, has roots in a sentence of Shakespeare’s invoking physical intimacy. LePage’s longer statement, which also mentioned being in one of his critic’s “head,” is bit of fake Shakespeare.)

Of course the comments also affect people who don’t support the governor, reminding them of many other incidents where he said outrageous things and when he trashed the press.

The Republican Governor’s Association have been painting a more muted version of LePage, as its ads call him “unique.” Their advertising approach makes sense, because it’s obvious LePage’s temperament, along with his tendency to say things that aren’t true but are consistent with his rather strong ideology, is a campaign issue.

But that more subtle picture, which smoothed out LePage’s edges, is sharpened every time LePage says something like this.

And the contrast to pragmatic political figures, who think there are problems more painful than the press, is clear.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.