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Bill Nemitz

Maine's Last Unapologetically Rude Governor

In my Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel column today I discuss the similarities and differences between LePage and the last Maine governor who shot so wildly from the hip, independent James B. Longley. For more on this period in Maine political history, check out Willis Johnson's entertaining book The Year of the Longley.

Some other must-read columns this weekend on similar subjects:

Steve Mistler also looked into the Longley connection, and discusses LePage's remarks with some past gubernatorial communications staff.

Renee Ordway compares LePage spokesperson Dan Demeritt to the mother of an "impish little boy."

Bill Nemitz delves into the legislative confirmation hearings for LePage's executive branch nominees, an important political process that has been overshadowed by LePage's remarks. He gets one Democrat to admit that they're being a "bunch of pansies" in not questioning or opposing some of LePage's less-qualified appointees.

And a bonus: Al Diamon's column from August of last year, when he channeled Longley's ghost for a heart-to-heart chat with Paul LePage.

A Defining Moment

Nemitz today says the health care debate may be the defining moment of Snowe's career, on par with the accomplishments of other Maine senators.

[Y]et another Maine political legacy is being written before our eyes.

For Margaret Chase Smith, it was the "Declaration of Conscience" speech in 1950 that turned the tide against the red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. "Moscow Maggie," as McCarthy sneeringly called her, would go on to earn the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989 from President George H.W. Bush.

For Ed Muskie, it was the very planet we live on. Sure, he failed in his bid for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, but Muskie's efforts to clean our polluted air and water are at the very root of what we now call environmental protection.

For Bill Cohen, it was that signature moment in 1974 when, as a Republican freshman on the House Judiciary Committee, he broke with his party and voted to impeach President Richard Nixon.

For George Mitchell, it was the day he looked Lt. Col. Oliver North in the eye during a congressional hearing on the Iran-Contra scandal and taught him a thing or two about what it means to "love one's country." More significantly, it was the day when Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland went to the polls and together embraced the Good Friday Agreement brokered by the former senator from Maine.

I wrote on similar themes in this recent Down East piece.