By putting partisan political pettiness above statesmanship, Republican Governor Paul LePage has shaken the public’s faith in his leadership.
His threat to withhold $1.06 million in state funding from Good Will-Hinckley unless the school reversed its appointment of Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves as school head crossed a line that offended even the governor’s own party. Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta denounced LePage’s attack on Eves in the strongest terms. “This really goes beyond the political,” Katz said. “This is personal and vindictive. I often disagree with Speaker Eves, but he’s a fine and honest man. More importantly, he’s a husband and a father of three beautiful kids who is trying to support his family. Political battles are one thing, but trying to ruin someone economically is quite another.”
If this were a family, LePage’s treatment of Eves and Good Will-Hinckley would be called abuse. And if there’s anything the governor condemns, it is abuse. He’s lived though it himself, he knows the damage it does, and to his credit, he has taken a public stand against abuse in all its forms.
Well, maybe not all.
In crossing the line from zealous advocacy of his vision to vendetta, the governor serves himself poorly and the citizens of Maine not at all. To sabotage a man’s ability to earn a living is disgraceful. It’s time to look in the mirror, LePage. It’s time to admit that you have gone too far – that you did something very wrong.
The governor should withdraw his funding threat and apologize to Speaker Eves. He should get back in the ring of compromise and negotiation and, if he insists, veto. At the moment, he’s not in the ring; he’s at the end of a plank, and he walked there himself. It’s time to retrace his steps.
To err is human, to forgive divine. There’s no word for a high-profile politician admitting he’s wrong because it happens so seldom. Do the rare thing, governor. Do the right thing.