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January 14, 2011

"Tell them to kiss my butt..."

Paul LePage, Maine's new governor is not known for his tact. He was asked to attend an event to celebrate the MLK holiday next Monday. LePage declined the invitation, citing other plans, and the NAACP complained. When asked about their complaints, LePage answered in what is coming to be known as his trademark style.

Speaking to reporters Friday morning, LePage was asked to respond to suggestions from NAACP members and others that his decision not to attend ceremonies honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were part of a negative pattern.

“Tell them to kiss my butt,” LePage said with a large smile, according to video by WCSH6. He then added: “If they want play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them,” a reference to his adopted son, Devon Raymond, who is black.

Dan Demeritt, LePage’s spokesman, had said the Republican governor was unable to attend an NAACP dinner honoring King in Portland on Sunday because of personal commitments and an NAACP breakfast in Orono on Monday because he plans to attend the funeral for a former state trooper.

But leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People pointed out in a news reports published Friday that LePage had declined numerous invitations from the organization.

Rachel Talbot Ross, state director of the NAACP, told the Portland Press Herald she was concerned “we’re not welcome and we’re not part of the Maine” LePage is preparing to lead.

I voted for LePage, and acknowledge that he could have been more diplomatic in his language. The NAACP's reaction, however, is outrageous. Unless they have direct evidence that LePage has any intention to exclude minorities from the state, they should refrain from such rhetoric.

The reaction of the Maine NAACP is mild compared to the national organization's statement.

"Governor Le Page's decision to inflame racial tension on the eve of the King holiday denigrates his office. His words are a reminder of the worst aspects of Maine's history and out of touch with our nation's deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing."
So you're on notice, wingnuts. "Kiss my butt" is now officially racist language. Unfortunately, the NAACP is correct that Maine's history on such matters has not always been the best. The KKK was once quite active in the state, and mainly targeted the French Catholic community. Which makes the NAACP's statement unfortunate, since LePage is French Catholic. So they're accusing him of displaying the same sort of discrimination that was once aimed at his ancestors. Great job, guys.

Lost amidst the outrageous outrage at LePage's statement is the fact that the NAACP has made far worse statements about their opponents in the recent past. Saying conservative groups "have given platform to anti-Semites, racists and bigots," seems a wee bit more outrageous than LePage's inelegant words in this instance. This doesn't make LePage's words any better, but given their history of making outrageous statements, one would think the NAACP would be a bit more nuanced in what they find unacceptable.

Update - In the comments here and at Hot Air, where this story is linked, my tepid criticism of LePage has been noted. I voted for LePage in the primary. I donated to his campaign in the general election and enthusiastically voted for him. During the campaign, I had the honor of sitting across the table from him during a candidate meet and greet. I have nothing but admiration for my governor.

Still, this is the state of Snowe and Collins. In other words, RINO Heaven. Maine may have elected a GOP legislature, but is still the land of liberals and liberal Republicans. I'm glad LePage called out the NAACP, but I hope he doesn't give the left (including the GOP left) too much ammunition against him. The left hates him, the establishment GOP is suspicious of him, and the media's salivating at any chance to take him down. He's a good guy with good intentions for this state. I hope he succeeds.


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posted by Slublog at 05:51 PM

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