Phil: If you were a thespian (oh, I almost forgot, you were one) and were asked to compare the Governor’s actions of the just concluded session of the Legislature to characters in movies, what would you say?
Ethan: Well, he kind of reminded me of Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” They both think the best way to get the inmates, er, legislators, to do their bidding is to pound the table instead of using compromise and reason.
Phil: Too bad LePage didn’t have her ability to put a few metal plates in the heads of a couple legislators.
Ethan: When you look at the list of what he said he planned to accomplish in his State of the State, from increased corporate welfare to cuts in human welfare, from a new war on drugs to a public vote on reducing government services, from reducing energy costs to bashing unions, you see he didn’t get a single priority passed.
Phil: Clearly we went to different movies. For me, I saw him as Mel Gibson in “Braveheart.”
Ethan: That was one of the most historically inaccurate films ever made. So if you mean LePage continued his ways of making things up, then I guess you are correct.
Phil: Not quite. I was referring more to his ability to stand up over and over and over and over again to the Democrats’ desire to expand a welfare system that is broken to its core.
Ethan: You do recall that Braveheart dies in the end after being found guilty of treason. Is that your image for the governor?
Phil: No indeed. But I do believe the governor has tried mightily to throw off the shackles of decades of Democratic rule, much like William Wallace was trying to throw off decades of English rule. The governor may very well die for the cause in November, but he will not say mercy as your Dems attempt to draw and quarter him.
Ethan: Drawn and quartered? How dramatic that you consider expanding health care to needy families the equivalent of executing a head of state.
Phil: When one is dealing with people who couldn’t even agree that paying off half a billion dollars in debt to Maine hospitals shouldn’t be held hostage to welfare expansion, you can understand my frustration.
Ethan: You mean paying off almost $200 million in non-interest bearing debt by creating almost $200 million in interest-bearing debt as proposed by Republicans? No wonder Democrats were so hesitant. Leo DiCaprio didn’t come up with a more fiscally irresponsible scheme in “Wolf of Wall Street.”
Phil: Actually it created a fair arrangement compared to Gov. John Baldacci’s insider deal with the liquor business that is now dedicated to the hospital bill.
Ethan: Which will now cost us all hundreds of thousands in interest payments that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Money we could be using to expand health care.
Phil: Yes, another unfunded expansion of government that LePage thankfully stood fast and defeated. Did you see the “Griswold Family Christmas?” Remember when Chevy Chase tries to light up the house with all those lights and ends up draining all the power from the neighborhood? That is what this expansion will do.
Ethan: Great movie. One of my wife’s favorites. And do you remember what happens next? A little auxiliary power gets generated from a federal power plant and everyone is happy. Just like health care expansion would have. The feds step in to pay for it, and 70,000 more people get health care.
Phil: The feds don’t have any money unless they take it from the people or borrow it from the children. Paul Newman in “The Hustler” comes to mind.The contrast between the governor and the Democrats who run the Legislature is vivid. On education, employment opportunities and energy costs, to name a few, LePage has sought to replace the lens on Maine’s camera to see the wider world we now live in and make changes to help Maine win the future.
Ethan: Win? As I said earlier, none of his initiatives on those issues passed. He ended up being all talk and no action, simply because he refused to compromise. He could have had welfare reform when Democrats compromised. He could have had managed care in health care when Democrats compromised. He could have had increased law enforcement when Democrats compromised. On and on. Instead he chose to become the veto king, surpassing Gov. James Longley with the most vetoes ever in our history.
Phil: You assume that the results are in. You have overlooked that the analysts may shape the coffee shop banter, yet it’s the voters who have the power to decide the direction we move toward next January when the governor and a new legislature are sworn in.
Ethan: Indeed. And one thing voters don’t like is someone who blames others for one’s own lack of accomplishment. For most that do end up “Gone With The Wind,” if you know what I mean.
Phil: Well, the only Oscar that matters is the one bestowed on Election Day. In the meantime there is a very long walk down the red carpet ahead, and there will be only one winner, meaning someone’s agenda will lose. Will it be the legislative Democrats’ or the Republican governor’s?
Ethan: But unlike the Oscars, both could win or both could lose.
Phil: Won’t that make an interesting movie.