The politics of rancor and foolishness

Remember, just one month ago, when Sen. Olympia Snowe announced she was retiring from the U.S. Senate because the political rancor in Washington had become unbearable, unworkable and unacceptable?

There was immediate nodding of heads all around Maine, among Democrats, Republicans and independents. We marveled at the gross level of contention in Washington and praised ourselves for our own ability to keep state politics more cordial and less fractured.

Marvel not.

In the past several weeks, the political discourse in Maine has careened toward the unbearable, unworkable and unacceptable.

Last month, when Democrats learned that Gov. Paul LePage would be traveling with his family to Jamaica, the Maine Democratic Party issued a press release critical of the family trip and pointing out that being governor is a full-time job.

"LePage's frequent vacations strengthen the claims that he and his GOP allies are out of touch with the needs of regular Maine people working two to three jobs just to get by."

It's strangely courageous for the Democrats to take this stand, given that the presidency is also considered a full-time job and the Obamas travel extensively on exquisite and expensive trips, including annual family vacations to Hawaii.

Vacations are OK for a Democratic president but not for a Republican governor?

Talk about rhetoric. Or is that zealotry?

And, on Wednesday, Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, issued a press release solely to criticize Republican Attorney General Bill Schneider's trip to Washington, D.C., to attend oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Hinck and Schneider are each seeking election to Snowe's vacated Senate seat and are on opposing sides of so-called Obamacare, and Hinck wanted constituents to be aware of his position that "Schneider's trip involves no legal work and should not be paid with public dollars."

It's worth noting that state Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Androscoggin, Hinck's campaign manager and state Rep. Sharon Treat, D-Hallowell, also traveled to D.C. to witness the Supreme Court arguments.

They did not use public dollars, but the trip certainly involved "no legal work" nor offered any "benefit to the people of Maine" while they were out of state and not at work, the very political crimes Hinck accused Schneider of committing.

So, it's OK for Democrats to witness health care debate before the Supreme Court but not for a Republican?

Hinck made a good point about travel on the public dime, although Schneider pointed out only part of the travel funds came his office's "settlement account," money won by the AG's Office through litigation and not raised through taxes, and he paid the balance from his personal funds, even though his involvement with this case is through his official capacity as Maine's chief law officer.

Treat's connection to the suit is through her joining the Progressive States Network amicus brief, and some of her expenses were paid by that entity.

Hinck defended legislators' travel as a "political statement" as health care advocates, but called Schneider's travel "merely symbolic."

Since Schneider — on behalf of Maine citizens — and Craven and Treat had all signed on to amicus briefs in opposition and support of the Affordable Care Act, respectively, it seems reasonable to think they each have the same right to hear arguments in court.

Right?

In recent months, Maine's rhetoric king has been GOP Chairman Charlie Webster, whose press releases might have the world believe that there is no decency among anyone in the Democratic Party.

In fact, on Tuesday he called the Democrats the party of "hypocrisy" and "media stunts," the very accusations leveled at Webster by Democrats and by some among his own conservative ranks in the past year.

Webster's colleague, GOP Executive Director Mike Quatrano, also blasted Dems on Tuesday for what he called a "witch hunt targeting Mary Mayhew" as continued computer problems and questionable expenditures at the Department of Health and Human Services have come to light.

Remember, it was the GOP that has spent the past several months kicking and clawing at MaineHousing, but the Dems aren't permitted to do the same at DHHS?

Is that a double standard?

So, it's not just politics in Washington that have devolved. In Maine, the political message traded between parties is now simplicity itself: For Republicans, it's "We are good. Democrats are bad." For Democrats, it's "We are good, Republicans are bad."

Throw in a bunch of name-calling and that's the very definition of rancor, and a pretty strong indicator that — as we head toward Election Day — Maine's political machines are more interested in posturing for our votes than getting problems solved.

On this April Fools' Day, the joke appears to be on citizens.

jmeyer@sunjournal.com

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

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Comments

Steve  Dosh's picture

The politics of rancor and foolishness

Joyce 12.04.02 5 pm ish hst
" Maine's political machines are more interested in posturing for our votes than getting problems solved. " Whelp , learned something today . t y v m . btw - We don't approve of political jokes , now do we ? A: We've seen too many elected :)
" A Ron Paul supporter, 28-year-old Bret Hatch, asked Romney whether he agreed with a passage from the Book of Mormon that describes a cursing of people with a "skin of blackness." Romney's staff took away the microphone before the Green Bay man could read the passage. " -- Romney faces question about Mormon faith , By STEVE PEOPLES Associated Press Monday, April 2, 2012 7:34 PM EDT
Religion and politics do not mix , Pat Robertson
The L D S is okay . Salt of the Earth . Mennonites and Amish , too
The important thing is to have - fai†h and to not be an athiest . It gives one something to hang their hat on ?
Agnostics are okay , too • /s, Steve ?

"

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great editorial, Judy. Well

Great editorial, Judy. Well done.

Jason Theriault's picture

Man...

I'm glad I had a LTTE to hang out at today. This thread is a bummer.

If you have to argue about how much vacation time people are taking, well, I just wonder where the facts went?

I can understand where both went wrong - both sides are right. There are facts and persuasive arguments for both sides. You know, as much as people like to rip on Politicians, there is a REAL need for them. Real Politicians know that like anything, this is a give and take, and that there is no need to make this an emotional battle.

RONALD RIML's picture

Obama takes half the vacation in same time as Bush II did......

Check this link out:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/02/michel...

"First lady Michelle Obama’s weekend jaunt to Aspen, Colorado for a President’s Day ski holiday with her daughters Sasha and Malia makes the 16th time members of the first family have gone on extended vacations during their three years in office.

Their stay at the home of a major Chicago fundraiser for President Obama makes the fifth time the first lady and her daughters have taken a break from Washington on their own. Only once has Obama had a long weekend out of town and alone, celebrating his 49th birthday in Chicago in August 2010.

Accounting for trips out of Washington for several days, the total number of vacations Washington Secrets tabulated is 16, 10 where the family was together, such as for Christmas and summer vacations, one by the president and five by the first lady. Not included were Camp David visits or trips like the first family’s New York City date night in May, 2009.

According to presidential watcher Mark Knoller of CBS , George W. Bush, at this time of his presidency, had made 30 visits to his Texas ranch spanning all or part of 220 days. The Obama’s vacation day count is less than half of that."

Here is another article from last year: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18563_162-20093801.html

"There has been criticism of the president's vacation at this time. But how does the number of vacation days the president has spent compare to his predecessors? CBS Radio's Mark Knoller has kept track of presidential vacations for years and supplied the data.

So far, President Obama has taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch where his staff often joined him for meetings. And Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch.

Among recent presidents, Bill Clinton took the least time off -- 28 days."

- Let the 'Disagrees' pile up - But try to refute it. It's so much easier for the Kool-Aide drinkers to hit a button rather than research facts.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Who gives a ! Ronald

Who gives a !

Ronald fiddles along with congress as the U.S. burns in debt (100% of GDP and growing). Way to take your eye off the ball.

RONALD RIML's picture

Who gives a??

Who gives a??

Mike LeBlanc does. This was supposed to be in reply to his posting.

Way to take you eye off that.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Good thing that I have two

Good thing that I have two eyes then : )

 's picture

And one very small closed

And one very small closed mind!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Finally

Finally

 's picture

Of course, I didn't use a

Of course, I didn't use a vulgar term for homosexuals like you did, because I would NEVER get away with it like you did. But then there's a different standard for moderates than for ultra righr wingers.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What do you mean, I got away

What do you mean, I got away with it. I was censored for legitimate contextual use of a word. I suspect had I spelled out the 'n' word I'd have been censored for that too. Political correctness at its worst. FYI, you've set the standard for getting away with cheap shots.

 's picture

If I had used such language I

If I had used such language I would have been banned for a month, you didn't even get a slap on the wrist. That clearly shows there is a double standard in this forum, conservatives gets away with virtually everything, moderates must tread carefully. It isn't fair, but that's the way it is.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Is one to assume that the

Is one to assume that the only thing that keeps you from using such language is the fear of getting banned?

 's picture

No, I refrain from using such

No, I refrain from using such language because it is mean spirited, hateful and unnecessary, which apparently doesn't matter to you. It also would get me barred, but you're obviously protected from that fate.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

One word does not constitute

One word does not constitute 'language', but semantics will prove nothing, so....

 's picture

it is a vile and offensive

it is a vile and offensive word, you know that and used it anyway because that's what you believe AND you knew you'd get away with using it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You're beatin' a dead horse;

You're beatin' a dead horse; get over it. Go kick a can or something.

 's picture

just like the bully you are.

just like the bully you are.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What's the matter, nobody

What's the matter, nobody else to play with today? I really don't have the time or the inclination to put up with your whining. If you don't have anything positive to contribute, I suggest you go bother someone else, or you'll be
WALKING THE PLANK, my friend.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Dan, Being an outside

Dan,
Being an outside observer, you do your share of bullying, don’t you think?

 's picture

you get paid for bullying, so

you get paid for bullying, so your opinion is worthless.

RONALD RIML's picture

That sucks, Dan...

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

Presidential travel

On the one hand, Republicans and Libertarians weep, wail and gnash their teeth over the horror of the President leaving his desk even to use the WC - his place is at work as though he can't possibly do anything if he's not within arm's reach of the center drawer of his desk. I'm reminded of the old show shop mentality.

Then they screech and storm and generally make asses of themselves the moment he leaves DC on Air Force One - the mobile Oval Office from which he an do his job quite thoroughly. "There he goes - off partyong again," they howl following it with a snarky comment about how he can't possibly screw up their day if he isn't glueing on soles.

We were subject to daily photos of Dubya driving a 'baccy stained pickup on the way to clear the never ending supply of brush on his ranch. Ronnie RayGun spent a fair amount of time posing atop his trusty steed and GHWB spent a good part of every summer waving from a cigarette boat. All were in constant contact with the job of President through the wonders of modern technology.

IMO, it's time for the easily excited to take a break and actually think before they start ranting.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Deck the Halls!

 's picture

I see the right wing zealot

I see the right wing zealot of the SJ is comparing apples and oranges again, trying to justify the 'vacation' of lepage. Does lepage have a full staff and equipment with him while in Jamaica? President Obama has a full office and staff at his disposal 24-7, can lepage say the same? The AG goes to Washington on the public dime, while opponents go with non governmental funds and this zealot compares them? Honestly, time has come to get fair and balance BACK to the SJ editorial board.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

"pice" = "price"

Dang keyboard.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

OK, I'll bite.

Since someone disagreed, why do you believe I really love my aged keyboard?

RONALD RIML's picture

Welcome to the club...

I get 'Disagrees' over pure and simple facts all the time.

This surprises you???

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot, one of your huge

The parrot, one of your huge fans, sez it's because you don't always say nice things.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Ronald, It has become a

Ronald,
It has become a tradition.

MICHAEL LEBLANC's picture

Yes, Danny, ...

... the prez has a full staff with him at all times when he travels, even on campaign trips, and we tax-payers pick up the tab. The estimate I heard recently was $100,000 an hour. Given the cost and the frequency, you would think his golf game might improve.

Campaigning, vacations, world-wide apology tours ... am impressive pice tag. Maybe it's worth it to get him out of DC for a while.

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