Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Starting points: A critical reading of LePage’s inaugural address

Published in the Portland Phoenix

Governor Paul LePage's inaugural address was fairly short, and was filled with rhetoric much like that from his campaign. On our blog ( we broke the news about his first misleading statement told while in office (see how the media handled that here). He said some other interesting stuff too.

WHAT HE SAID "Our programs have to be focused on Maine residents." WHAT WE LEARN New arrivals to Maine (whether US citizens, refugees, or immigrants documented or otherwise) may not have access to public programs that can help them get a good start in their new lives.

WHAT HE SAID In holding up a single mother and nursing student as an example of how Mainers can use social programs to better their lives, he described the woman as having, "like me, Jennifer has escaped some very tough times." WHAT WE LEARN His prepared remarks worded that as "like me, Jennifer has escaped domestic violence." While that is a key part of his campaign's homeless-to-governor story, he chose to sidestep a politically charged term.

WHAT HE SAID "I do not care about editorials, opinion polls, or the next election." WHAT WE LEARN While he may be declaring his independence from the political and journalistic whirlwind, it will be fascinating to see whether he cites supportive editorials and polls in promoting his programs, simply dismissing opinions he does not like, or whether he indeed operates independent of all outside opinions — even those supporting him.

WHAT HE SAID "At the end of my term, I will be ready to stand accountable for the jobs that we create, for the prosperity that we bring to our state." WHAT WE LEARN Given that his influence in job creation is based on the indirect results of policy decisions (and only directly by hiring more people into state government), LePage is really hoping the global recession ends soon. On that, we can all agree.