Playing the brain card in the Legislature

It was a remarkable moment in a remarkable legislative session when House Minority Leader Ken Fredette stood to explain that he was having a hard time understanding Democrats because they think like women.

Fredette said he had read the book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" and it explained why Democrats favored using federal funds to supply health insurance to 70,000 poor Mainers and he could not.

"Men sort of think one way in their own brain, in their own world, and women think another way in their own brain, in their own world," he said.

"Because, if you listen to the debate today, in my mind — a man's mind — I hear two fundamental issues. From the other side of the aisle (where the Democrats sit), I hear the conversation being about free. 'This is free, we need to take it, and it's free. And we need to do it now,' " he said.

Fredette's observation was, from the start, a little weird because most of the people looking back at him from across the aisle were actually men. Girly men, apparently, although their ranks included a former fire chief and a former county sheriff.

At any rate, the gals over there like free stuff. Perhaps he meant they are used to getting chocolates, flowers, diamond rings and pin money from their husbands.

"Now," he continued, "my brain, being a man's brain, sort of thinks differently, because I say, well, it's not. If it's free, is it really free? Because I say, in my brain (his man brain), there's a cost to this."

Actually, both the women and the men on the Democratic side understood that the federal money would not be "free," since we all pay federal taxes.

But the federal government would have supplied all of the money to extend Medicaid to 60,000 Mainers for three years without Maine taxpayers paying any more taxes.

Fredette's man brain told him it would be better to allow our federal taxes to go to other states rather than helping people here in Maine.

It's a man thing; don't ask.

But just because Mainers stand up like men and refuse the "free" money doesn't mean the federal government is going to cut our taxes.

Fredette was a little inarticulate, but there was a bit of truth in what he said.

Anyone who doesn't recognize that men and women, in general, lean in different political directions just isn't recognizing reality.

There is a reason Mitt Romney spent so much time fretting over the "female vote" in the last election, and why "soccer moms" are a political force in every election.

And there's likely a reason there were no Republican women in the Maine Senate this session and six on the Democratic side.

Women make up 38 percent of the Democrats (33 votes) in the House, but only 15 percent (8 votes) among Republicans.

Nationally, women are about seven percent more likely to identify with Democrats than men, and psychologists have spent three decades trying to figure out why.

Surveys and exit interviews have regularly shown that men and women tend to put different emphasis on social policy, military power, the economy, taxes and moral issues.

Interestingly, women tend to be more consistent with their beliefs over time, while men tend to swing more widely from issue to issue and election to election. It is, apparently, a man's prerogative to change his mind.

This tends to be true not only in the U.S. but in other nations as well.

Women tend to be more open to change and more sympathetic to immigrants and the poor. Men, and Republicans, tend to put more emphasis on threats, perhaps accounting for their greater support for military spending, gun rights and lower taxes.

Men and Republicans tend to see the world as a threatening place, while women and Democrats see it as a cooperative, friendly sphere.

Women and Democrats tend to be more comfortable with change and uncertainty, which might explain their willingness to go for a three-year Medicaid deal and accept uncertainty about future funding.

Some research has been done on Fredette's area of interest, the brains of men and women, and how they process information.

In other words, are we born to be Republicans or Democrats? Do we inherit that from our parents?

But our Republican and Democratic beliefs quickly become impossible to separate from the influence of our parents, our upbringing and life experiences.

There is strong research showing that the right and left sides of our brains identify and analyze information differently.

And scientist looking at brain scans given to people taking a special gambling quiz can tell conservatives from liberals with 82 percent accuracy by telling which part of their brain gets the most use.

So, perhaps, as Fredette said, men and women may tend to look at the same information and draw different conclusions and reality and the best way ahead.

But indisputable research shows that the two halves of our brains wouldn't perceive reality nearly as well if they did not work together.

Which may explain a lot about the inability of polarized government to function to anyone's satisfaction.

It takes two sides of a brain to make a whole person. Perhaps that's also true of effective governments.

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



FRANK EARLEY's picture

I see things a whole lot different..............

In my relatively short stint in the high tech world of troubleshooting. I was fortunate enough to have worked with some very sharp individuals. Male and female, and it wasn't their thought process that determines their effectiveness. It's how well they formulate a process for fixing a particular problem that counts.
It has little if anything to do with whether you male or female, its how well you can use a combination of life experience, as well as your educational background together to form an opinion. It's those people who solve problems. People who count on one or the other, aren't as effective. I know some "Girly Brains" who would run circles around any "Manly Brain" out there.
I don't believe it's a man or woman thing, it's your life skills, and education together that count.... .. .. . .. ...

Steve  Dosh's picture

Frank ? †rue ? " It has

Frank ? †rue ? " It has little if anything to do with whether you male or female, ".
. Now for some h u m o r
/s steve , gearhead •  ?

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Fredette using his head for what its good for

Steve  Dosh's picture

Rex , et. al ? Sunday 13:45

Rex , et. al ? Sunday 13:45 hst ?
:D Astonishing , isn't it ? " Just the facts ma'am ." ;)
Did n e one else see Stephen King on CBS Sunday Morning earlier today besides us ?
Minority Leader Ken Fredette ?
" A light dawns on Marblehead "
btw - wiki means ƒast in Hawai'ian . Great editorial , per usual . .
hth ? /s Steve and ohana
" Just the fax ma'am . " -- Harry Morgan

Thomas Hamilton's picture


"Men sort of think one way in their own brain, in their own world, and women think another way in their own brain, in their own world,"
It is hard to believe that a person in an elected position believes this to be a meaningful way to explain the different between democrats and republicans. Is this all he learned from reading the book "Men are from mars ..."

A simplistic thinker? A deep critical thinker?

If I tend to support the democrats over republicans, then I must be a girly man.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Imagine what he'd get out of

Imagine what he'd get out of reading "War and Peace"?

Thomas Hamilton's picture

War and Peace

One of the longest novels ever written. A long complicated story about the French invasion of Russia.
Are you suggesting that he might want Maine to invade Russia if he had the determination to read it? In a manly way that is.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Hard to tell what a

Hard to tell what a politician will do these days.

Steve  Dosh's picture

. . L O L , Tom ;) We

. . L O L , Tom ;) We are shemales , all of us . 13:46 hst ?
" Men are from earth . Women are from earth . Deal with us . "
^^ You can quote me on that ^^
† y v m for your cogent remarks . /s, Steve , homo sapien •

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

Brain short circuit

Republican Minority leader Ken Fredette’s “man’s brain” has short circuited ! His logic is –it is better for Mainers Federal income taxes to go to help the working poor in OTHER states get Health Care insurance than it is to have Mainers Federal Income Taxes come back to help Maine’s working poor. Federal money IS Mainers money!! Does a “man’s brain” understand this concept? So Mainers hard earned money paid to Federal income taxes will go to help people in another state ---- YES, the Federal government will spend my federal income tax money – but NOT in Maine !! No matter the gender of the brain---the Republicans are not saving Mainers one cent of Federal income taxes !

MARK GRAVEL's picture

You do know that Maine

You do know that Maine receives 1.41 times the Federal dollars it pays to Washington DC.

I would say Maine is getting well more than its fair share already.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mark ? Ayuh ? You noticed .

Mark ? Ayuh ? You noticed . More and bet'tah •
† y v m President Barack Hussein Obama , CEO of America , for submitting budgets on time , on our behalf and at our behest
He's Irish , correc† ? O'Bama ? My mistake . He's Hawai'ian and from Ilinois . ...
Kinda' like now of your Baasten Red Sox . The only Hawai'ian majpr league baseball player . btw - Does ME have any major league player in n e sport or in the olympics Sochi 2 0 1 4 ( including women ) ?
Play ball
/s Steve :D

RONALD RIML's picture

You forgot to mention....

Ken Fredette is trained to think and act like a 'Lawyer" - not a Man. That what his occupation is.

He's a shark. A predator. A bottom feeder.

You neglected to mention this.

What's this "Left Brain - Right Brain" Crap? He's driven by his Pineal Gland.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You hate lawyers, too?

You hate lawyers, too?

RONALD RIML's picture

I hate ignorance in whatever profession or occupation it resides

Perhaps he can tell us what other 'Manly' things he's done..... But then I'll be attacked for questioning him on his military service - or lack thereof....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

All men (and women I guess)

All men (and women I guess) do not define their Patriotism by their military service or lack thereof. Some serve through military service, others choose different paths from which to serve, others choose not to serve at all. And then there are those who not only choose not to serve, but choose to have it all served to them. Why am I telling you all this? You already know it all (or should).

RONALD RIML's picture

Why inject 'Patriotism" into this, Paul?? I didn't.

Nor did Rep. Fredette.

He was talking about "Manly" things.....

Military service has long been regarded as one of the "Rites of Passage into Manhood" for youth; perhaps one of the very few remaining.

Rep. Fredette's "Rite of Passage" appears to be voluminous amounts of B.S. issued from the Floor of the State House

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You have displayed a strong

You have displayed a strong propensity for connecting one's patriotism to their military service or absence thereof in other forums. Is that not what you believe in or do you just turn it on and off to suit your mood, or more importantly, connect it to the political persuasion of the individual involved?
I agree with your assessment of Fredette, by the way; dorky.

RONALD RIML's picture

I have long been an observer in how

Conservatives and the Republican Party historically and traditionally related patriotism to a strong national defense and American 'Exceptionalism', while deriding the Democratic Party for 'Liberalism" and anti-military sentiment.

I love to stand on the sidelines and count score on how many Republicans, Conservatives, and so-called 'Patriots' have actually participated in what they preach. Damn - it's so many fewer than one would imagine!!!

If someone has no interest in patriotism or military service - I could care less - just don't get excited about sending some other poor slob into the fray.

Actually Republicans value

Actually Republicans value strong families and All families, limited government, less tax ,more personal freedoms,life and liberty and so much more that is not centered around war.We believe in state sovereignty and so much more. Readers should read the Maine Republican Platform to get the facts instead of hearsay on this particular forum.

p.s. our present Chief Executive is Democrat and the war continues :\

RONALD RIML's picture

I'm glad to hear you Republican value "All Families"

I trust you will eagerly set up an adequate health care system to provide for them.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"I'll bet the white guy's the

"I'll bet the white guy's the mom", mused the bemused parrot.
I'd say they're already covered.

RONALD RIML's picture

You don't remember much about the 60's - do you.

How 'Stoned' were you?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Ron ( and AL , Jer & JT , too

Ron ( and AL , Jer & JT , too ) ? Remember the lyrics to that old anti-war song by CCR , Fortunate Son ?
Songwriters: JOHN C. FOGERTY
Some folks are born to wave the flag,
Ooh, they're red, white and blue.
And when the band plays "Hail to the chief",
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no,

Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh.
But when the taxman comes to the door,
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no millionaire's son, no.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no.

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord,
And when you ask them, "How much should we give?"
Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh,

It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no military son, son.
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, one.
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one, no no no,
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate son, no no no,

Fortunate Son lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC GROUP, INC
Happy Fourth , ladies and genitals ! .. /s Steve :D

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Happy 4th

For those that wore the uniform and served this country. Happy fourth for those others that are just here.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Will that remain your

Will that remain your sentiment when BHO puts U.S. boots in Syria?

RONALD RIML's picture

I am angry we're still wasting blood and treasure in

Afghanistan........ No nation has ever succeeded in transforming that suck-hole......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

At whom are you angry?

At whom are you angry?

RONALD RIML's picture

Is he 'War-Hawking?"


PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It will happen during his

It will happen during his presidency and it will be left there for the next guy to clean up, that is, if we still exist as a nation.

JERRY ARIPEZ's picture

Pills and a shrink will help you with your delusions

"that is, if we still exist as a nation.""????????

Repubs = Doom and gloom

That skull and bones has a lot of empty air space. At least the parrot has a brain in that skull and can fly away..

PAUL ST JEAN's picture


Your message cannot be delivered to the intended recipient. Please try again later.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Paul ? Buck Fush . He got us

Paul ? Buck Fush . He got us in to it ( the fool ) , there were not W M D s Dead - Eye Dick Cheney & Mr. Waterboard AG Ashcroft , and it is EZ to start a fight , Paul LePage , but difficult to conclude one . Pass a budget already . .
/s Steve , who served - you - in Micronesia , Guatemala and Africa . and was actually shot at in anger • 
. .l o l. . Now you are laughing because i wasn't hit ! :D Happy Fourth of July , y'all !

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Actually, I am laughing but

Actually, I am laughing but not for the reason you stated.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The lack of a cogent

The lack of a cogent rebuttal, personal criticism, and stereotyping speaks volume about your character. In my opinion, this is behavior reminiscent of a bully and adds no value.

Perhaps a look in the mirror is long over due.

RONALD RIML's picture

So I gave him the benefit of the doubt; - as I used to you.....

So shall we simply come to the conclusion that there ain't a drop of empathy in the man???

The empathetic part of me thought otherwise........

RONALD RIML's picture

Obviously you just looked in one.....

It appears the 'Agrees' were at 100% until you staggered in.......

MARK GRAVEL's picture

A apologize for raining on

A apologize for raining on your parade with injecting a dose of reality.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mark ? 14:00 hst ? Q : Do

Mark ? 14:00 hst ?
Q : Do you happen to know - why - sharks do not bite lawyers ?
A : Professional courtesy
/s , Steve , former Ombudsman for the us federal government located in the Washington District ( not a state ) of Columbia
DC's license plates read " No taxation w/o representation " already , and have , for years & y e a r s

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You make a good point, Steve.

You make a good point, Steve. Both Obamas surrendered their licenses to practice law in order to avoid prosecution. Some sharks are also skunks.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Paul ? We can go round and

Paul ? We can go round and round with this and i can take either side of most - any - issue and win . .but what does it prove ? . At Bates we always creamed Harvard in debates ( way over rated ;)
Q: What do you get when your cross a crooked politician with a crooked lawyer ?
A: Chelsea Clinton
" Both Obamas surrendered their licenses to practice law in order to avoid prosecution " as if . . . Ever heard of a seven year statue of limitations ? Presidential pardons a lá Ford and the first Bush ? Prove your assertions because they are usually patently ƒalse •
Q: In what state(s) or district are they currently licensed to practice ?
btw - We'll take a Summa Cum Laude Princeton grad as an attractive and intelligent first lady over some dumb school teacher from TX any day of the week that ends in ' day .' You should have heard the jokes in DC about Bush when he was in office ref : but one quickly learns to respect the office if not the individual as an employee of the Executive Branch of the US federal government
. .Not sure what ( or who ) the ' skunk ' refers to but we all lknow that the smelly stuff generally slides down hill from the top , Governor LePage , and a dirty dog usually smells his own crap first ?  /s Steve :D

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"statue of limitations"??

"statue of limitations"??

RONALD RIML's picture

You are lying there, Paul. You bought into an "Urban Legend"

What Happened to Obama's Law License?

Viral text claims President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama surrendered their Illinois law licenses to avoid criminal prosecution, or worse.

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: June 2010
Status: Mostly false (see details below)

"Analysis: It's true that neither Barack nor Michelle Obama currently has an active law license authorizing them to practice in the state of Illinois.

The Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission lists President Obama's registration status as "voluntarily retired."

It lists Michelle Obama's status as "voluntarily inactive."

It is not true based on any existing evidence, however, that either of them surrendered their law license to avoid disciplinary action or criminal prosecution. Nor is it true, contrary to what has been claimed on literally thousands of anti-Obama blogs and websites, that the Obamas were "disbarred" or had their law licenses "revoked" for any reason. Disbarred attorneys are listed in the ARDC database as "Not authorized to practice law due to discipline." The Obamas are not so listed.

Moreover, neither the Illinois State Bar Association nor the ARDC lists any accusations of misconduct or disciplinary actions against the Obamas. According to a statement quoted by, ARDC deputy administrator and chief counsel James Grogan says the Obamas were "never the subject of any public disciplinary proceedings."

Quite to the contrary, a notice on the website of the Illinois State Bar states that the Association is "proud" to retain Barack and Michelle Obama as honorary members.

Lastly, it's not unusual for lawyers to go on inactive status if they have no immediate plans to practice law. According to the ARDC Annual Report fully 12% of Illinois' 87,943 attorneys were registered as inactive in 2011."

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I do not lie any more than

I do not lie any more than you do, and you are not the sole source of truth, despite your 'nom de plume". That statement came from the same sources from which you obtained the above diatribe.

RONALD RIML's picture

You posted, de facto, that they surrendered

their law licenses to avoid prosecution.

I posted - with a link - that there was no evidence of this - but only a 'viral email'

So get the evidence - otherwise it is B.S.

Snopes is not allowed as an

Snopes is not allowed as an authority on facts. Colleges will not allow it for citation. Snopes has been found to be politically biased. Do you have any other citations you might state as fact?

RONALD RIML's picture

That was 'Snopes?' - This is 'College?'

Whatever it is you're smoking - you should pass it around.......... But don't 'Bogie' it......

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot sez he thought

The parrot sez he thought Snopes was a hip-hop Rapper.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I agree it's B.S. but that

I agree it's B.S. but that doesn't make ME the liar.

RONALD RIML's picture

You passed it on w/o a disclaimer.

You can do better than that.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Damn, I forgot that rule.

Damn, I forgot that rule. What game are we playing, again?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Ron ? Stop confusing these

Ron ? Stop confusing these guys with facts - l o l - /s, Steve
" Denial . A river in Egypt ? "

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Man, you just keep making

Man, you just keep making those up right off the top of your head don't you?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ya, lawyers are scum until

Ya, lawyers are scum until you need to hire one. Come-on, who are you fooling with those blanket generalizations.

RONALD RIML's picture

Mark get 'em for free in his criminal cases.....

He uses his age-old claim that taxes have made him indigent......

Steve  Dosh's picture

Ron ? Hahah - †rue dat ? 

Ron ? Hahah - †rue dat ?  ¿ Indignant perhaps ?
Like that other guy from Dover - Foxcroft who claimed that - all -- his income went ot taxes . .Hmm. extreme hyperbole . .
Q: Who's taxes are going to pay for our Medicare , Medicaid and Obamacare ® when we turn 65 - 72 , retire and can no longer afford private insurance plans ?
A: Our kids ;)
. ." You call us scum , but scum rises to the top."
/s steve , former federal ombudsman [ much like a lawyer but not paid as much ] :D


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...