In a front-page story Sunday, we explored that valuable but elusive thing called the “Maine brand.”
It’s that image outsiders have of our state that influences everything from whether they decide to move here, vacation here or attend a Maine college.
We should be proud of our brand and carefully guard its integrity.
While Gov. Paul LePage may have some good ideas for making Maine a better place to do business, some of his off-hand comments are hurting the state’s image and brand — and that can’t be good for business.
In office only three months, the governor has made a series of insensitive and unnecessary statements that have unfavorably propelled the state into the national spotlight.
Questioned about his administration’s support for repealing a bill eliminating the chemical BPA from products for children, the governor was quick with a quip:
"So the worst case is some women may have little beards."
The comment earned the governor national news coverage, but also made the state’s chief executive look like an insensitive wiseguy.
When the state’s NAACP chapter criticized the governor for not attending one of its events, the governor was again quick to respond. When a reporter asked him what he would tell the organization, he said “I’d tell 'em to kiss my butt.”
The comment reverberated across the Web and the national TV media, again making the governor look like an ill-tempered hothead.
Earlier this month, the governor launched a broadside attack against the state’s media while talking to a group of fishermen: “Buying a Maine daily newspaper is like paying someone to lie to you.”
The governor provided no examples and, when asked to supply some by the Bangor Daily News, his office did not respond.
Most recently, in response to his decision to remove murals from the state’s Department of Labor, the governor was asked how he would respond to people protesting his decision.
“I’d laugh at them, the idiots. That’s what I would do,” he said, according to a column in the Portland Press Herald.
Some speculate the governor is just a plain talker who “tells it like it is.”
But there are ways to talk plainly without calling people who disagree with you “idiots” or telling them to kiss your butt, comments that each caused late-night talk-show hosts to spotlight Maine's governor — and Maine — as a laughingstock.
A governor should be able to support his position with facts and without resorting to jokes about women growing “little beards.”
A capable governor should be able to face questions from the media without simply labeling newspaper reporters liars.
A governor must be able to control his temper and his tongue even in the face of frustrating opposition.
An effective governor should be able to win over or reassure his opponents without demeaning them.
But, most significantly, this governor must learn how to get Maine national attention for the good things that are happening here, rather than the foolish things he sometimes says.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.