LePage takes a page out of Napoleon’s war book — and ignores it

Gov. Paul LePage flies an F-35 Lightning II simulator at Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick in August 2013. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Gov. Paul LePage flies an F-35 Lightning II simulator at Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick in August 2013. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Cynthia: “You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war,” according to Napoleon Bonaparte, but I’m not sure Maine’s governor got the memo.

In the battle between him and the Legislature over voter-approved bonds for land conservation, lawmakers from both parties seem to be flexing muscles and asserting power LePage style.

What do you think? Will Gov. LePage find his Waterloo on Blueberry Hill?

Mike: The Legislature asserted its power when it passed bond laws that continued to vest the governor with power over this debt. Now they’re surprised he’s using it? This is less Bonaparte and more Bismarck: public sausage making!

Cynthia: The sausage is being poisoned by bitterness and obfuscation. It’s making people sick, and tired.

Mike: How many closed-door caucuses and back-room Appropriations deals did you see while in Augusta, full of threats and quid pro quo? The public is just seeing openly what happens behind the curtain.

Cynthia: I’ve never seen a governor hold land conservation bonds hostage, and never in my wildest dreams would I imagine it would happen over firewood. But I must say, watching a major political brawl between the governor and Sen. Roger Katz that puts a bee in the House Republicans’ bonnets is way more exciting than the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, and a lot cheaper.

Mike: The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will be remembered for a long time, while this tempest in Augusta will pass and soon be forgotten. But since you brought up the governor’s proposal, what do you think? Should we leave state forest lands alone to be “harvested” by the spruce budworm? Or should we put Mainers to work cutting trees while funding Democrats’ favorite program, Efficiency Maine?

Cynthia: Cutting publicly owned timber to heat homes maybe makes sense if the wood goes directly to Maine families to burn in their stoves. Letting a private company profit by harvesting publicly owned trees, even if a fee is paid to Efficiency Maine, smells like another loophole.

And another thing that stinks is the level of civic discourse and intolerance by adults, like the guy in Westbrook who basically said he wouldn’t mind if the governor was assassinated.

Along with the art of political war, I’m afraid Gov. LePage may have taught by example the art of boor.

Mike: There is a significant difference between an off-color joke, like flying an F-35 to the Press Herald, and stating that you would be alright with the assassination of a political opponent. Then denying you said it and stealing a reporter’s phone to destroy the evidence? That’s crazy! Credit Westbrook and Augusta Democrats for acknowledging it quickly.

Cynthia: Democrats don’t want credit, Mike. They want the damn bonds! And I fail to see a meaningful difference between terrorism and assassination ”jokes.” What’s crazy is that we are even talking about these things in a discussion about Maine politics.

Gov. LePage reminds me of Burgermeister Meisterburger, the tyrannical mayor of Sombertown. Refusing to release land conservation bonds is like outlawing toys.

Mike: Did you snag that reference on a post-Christmas discount? Anyway, like the movie, the “toys” will ultimately be released, as they always have been under this governor. But it won’t be because of Sen. Katz’s proposal, which appears to have constitutional problems. Or are we supposed to overlook those because the “Paul LePage is mean” meme is what really counts?

Cynthia: Counselor Katz Krinkle can cope with any constitutional complications. At least I hope so. Don’t you? Or are you rooting for the mean guys?

Mike: I’m rooting for July, when the tomfoolery is over and the Legislature adjourns. The one bright spot? Maine voters might get to weigh in on the income tax this fall. If you think bonds are popular, just wait until the income tax is on the ballot! You might even get Katz and LePage to agree on that one.

Cynthia: If we are going to put the question, “do you want to pay income taxes” on the ballot, we might as well ask voters if they want to die while we’re at it.

Which reminds me of another thing Napoleon said. In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.