Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leaks, LePage, and Leftovers

“There is NOTHING to eat in here,” I often grumble, even after dutifully sealing a plate of leftovers in a Tupperware container the night before, only for it to sneak behind a bag of celery, lost forever.

When I open the refrigerator, I always expect whatever I’m looking for to position itself front and center. The idea of moving stuff aside to see what might be hiding under or behind that milk carton simply does not penetrate the tiny cluster of nerve cells I call a brain.

As most students of human behavior know, if I really wanted to find something to eat in the refrigerator, I probably could. Deep down inside, I would rather order pizza, or visualize a plate of nachos and meat loaf so it might magically materialize in front of me.

Our political system, in many ways, is like my refrigerator: there’s a lot of stuff in there we’d like to see, but not badly enough to actually look. So we ignore it until it starts to smell.

We can thank, the group responsible for publishing 90,000 classified military documents about the War in Afghanistan, for reminding us that we really should do something about the string bean casserole from last Thanksgiving that still lurks way in back, behind the milk carton.

The documents reveal atrocities galore, but nothing new or surprising. Still, they have value because we live in a society in which it is easy to forget about the realities of war (unless you have a son or a brother or a cousin serving in the military).

Afghanistan has been a problem since the Russians invaded in the ‘80s. Remember that? No? Oh, right – you were ordering pizza. Well, if you think the U.S. just stood on the sidelines and crossed our fingers, hoping the Mujahideen guerrillas would defeat the Soviets without help, I have some yummy green bean casserole I’d like to sell you.

We say we want transparency in government, but when it comes down to it, we’d actually rather not know what’s really going on.

Take the race for governor. Republican Paul LePage recently accused a Democratic party official of inciting talk that LePage would not make a good governor because he is French Catholic.

You have to feel for LePage, because he seems to understand politics about as well as I understand microbiology. Racist comments by bloggers were not a story until he called out the Dem’s. His reaction makes it look like he can’t take the heat.

The best strategy would have been to ignore the fringe racists. If a reporter asks you about it, say, “It’s unfortunate that some people have to resort to ignorant tactics, but that’s politics.”

Instead, LePage attacked the Democrats, and when the media reported his attack, LePage responded by saying he would not longer talk to reporters.

Oy. Welcome to big boy politics, Paul.

We can conclude that if LePage somehow wins, he will pilot the government machinery like a Glaucoma victim at the helm of the Hindenburg. He will get nothing done.

Baldacci, a master politician, got things done. They may have been terrible things, but at least they got done.

Why? If someone insulted Baldacci’s Italian heritage, it’s hard to imagine him saying, “I know just the scumball who’s behind it. His name is So-And-So, and we’ll make sure he sleeps with the fishes tonight.”

LePage’s mistake was impulsively trying to uncover something (fringe nutjob mudslinging) the general public would rather ignore.

He opened that six-week-old leftover tuna salad, and how he has to live with the stink.

And so do we.

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