LePage’s “Vaseline” comment and his disdain for democracy

Photo credit: Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Governor LePage’s “Vaseline” comment was not the worst thing he said yesterday.

That was vulgar and offensive. It also wrongly implied that the governor hasn’t gotten quite a lot of what he wanted in the last two years.

But it wasn’t the worst.

The very worst?

The governor’s disdain for anyone who disagrees with him, and in particular, a disdain for those whose job involves hard, physical labor, both of which show a disdain for the citizenry, our Citizen Legislature and the back-and-forth of democracy.

LePage directly insulted the intelligence of Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), a former logger. He said:

People like Troy Jackson, they ought to go back into the woods and cut trees and let someone with a brain come down here and do some good work.

The governor also seems to believe that when people disagree with him, they are evil.

He doesn’t only have no brains. He has a black heart. And so does the leadership upstairs.

This is what Sen. Jackson, the black-hearted fellow with no brains, said about Medicaid expansion:

 Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, talked about two friends in his district who died from heart failure after originally being diagnosed with acid reflux. Neither had health insurance.

Jackson had a similar diagnosis, but later discovered he had a heart condition. He now has a pacemaker, but carries the guilt of having health insurance because he’s an elected legislator.

“It’s … embarrassment that I had health insurance and they didn’t,” Jackson said. “It’s embarrassment that I’m alive and they didn’t have that opportunity.” [Source]

Maine has a Citizen Legislature.

That has certain advantages, including being in touch with the needs, views and experiences of a wide range of the population. It’s a stark contrast to the U.S. Congress, which hugely over-represents people with high incomes.

Yet our governor seems to think that’s not worthwhile.

And he also seems to find it difficult to bear disagreement, something that comes with elected office. Those who disagree with him must be stupid or evil.

His undemocratic instincts also include cutting off three newspapers from talking to all holding positions in his administration because Colin Woodard shone a light on a former lobbyist’s acts as head of the Department of Environmental protection. And he tried to bully unemployment insurance appeals hearing officers.


By the way, there were a number of thing in the full interview that haven’t gotten much attention.

  • Gov. LePage said that Democrats were unwilling to negotiate and “don’t care” about the people. Democrats have negotiated and offered to do so many times. The budget in front of the governor was negotiated with legislative Republicans, passed the Appropriations Committee unanimously, and, pre-veto, passed both houses of the Maine Legislature with bipartisan, 2/3 votes. Quite obviously, Democrats care, but have different views than the governor about what policies are best.
  • The governor said he offered to expand Medicaid if Democrats endorsed a Right to Work law, showing that the arguments he had given in opposition to Medicaid expansion weren’t all that meaningful.
  • Gov. LePage says he’s willing to talk but also that, since Democrats didn’t take his offer on Medicaid expansion versus Right to Work, “So I didn’t need to have a long meeting for the word “no,” two letters, N-O.”
  • LePage showed he misunderstands education testing by implying that the ACT has something to do with eighth graders. It’s a college admissions test.
  • The governor repeated a talking point that expanding Medicaid shouldn’t be done before people with disabilities got services. However, those people already have health care. If he wants everyone on that list to have other services, he should include full funding in a budget proposal.

You can watch the full interview here.

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.