It might be fun speculating what guys named "Shifty" and "Smoothie" would do in Maine when they weren't busy knocking up young white girls - if the excruciating pain of addiction were funny. But it's not, nor is the apology by Gov. Paul LePage to Maine women for his "slip of the tongue."
Maine's drug epidemic is a serious crisis that needs immediate and effective action, so why is our chief executive's foot once again stuck in his mouth and his finger lingering on the pause button?
There's a bipartisan emergency bill that would increase treatment for addicts and enforcement for offenders, but the governor is stalling for "business" reasons. He's demanding a competitive bidding process to ensure people on welfare don't cheat themselves to more medical care than they deserve, while he was on television reporting how much he cares about us.
This former mayor of Waterville and two-term governor with sights on the U.S. Senate claims he's just a business guy who "hates" politics - an outsider trying to save us from ourselves. It's when his brain is slower than his mouth that problems arise, he says, and that happens to be very often.
"I come from the business world, and I really despise it," he said about politics on Friday while explaining to throngs of reporters his habit of uttering racy sound bites that spark and crackle and spread through the national news like fire.
LePage is a businessman, no doubt - he is shrewd, calculating and unmatched in his ability to drive the political agenda in Maine. His trained eye sees the demand for scapegoats, so his business acumen kicks in and supplies it by blaming poor people and minorities. It's cheap and it works. And like any good apprentice of Donald Trump, LePage picked up the thread of the "Mexican rapists" story and ran with it.
"These are guys with the name Dee Money, Smoothie, Shifty - these types of guys - they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home," LePage said at a town hall meeting in Bridgton, Maine on Wednesday. "Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road."
Political incorrectness is piping hot stuff for steaming mad voters across the country, especially Republicans, who are enraged and scared. They got screwed by a system and left behind. Good manufacturing jobs are gone, wages are stagnant and the prospect for their kids is bleak. There's no pension, no gold watch, no comfortable retirement in Florida, so they rally behind salesmen like Trump and LePage who point to all the poor people and minorities on the street and peddle the oldest elixir in the book. "It's them! Look how dirty they are. It's the welfare system causing your problems."
People begging for money on the street for more drugs are an easy target who can't be missed, whereas businessmen making gobs of money selling and prescribing addictive drugs to patients in a antiseptic white medical office are out of sight. Plus there's the cost/benefit analysis of campaign contributions.
It was the business of prescription pain medication that created the heroin epidemic we now face, but that's a system not condemned because it's populated by people with money and influence. "Businessmen" like Trump and LePage are not outsiders to it; they enable it. The system that ails us lets rich people who do bad things go scot free as long as they are profitable and punishes poor people for being sold a bill of goods.
Anyone enamored with the power of money is no stranger to politics; they simply can afford to be invisible. Poor people on the street in hoards in broad daylight have no place to hide.
LePage says he wants 10 Maine Drug Enforcement Agency agents to arrest drug dealers coming up I-95. How about more white-collar crime prosecutors to track down the drug companies that flooded the market with opioids? How about prosecuting more doctors who recklessly prescribe addictive pain medication to any high school kid with a sports injury or who gets their wisdom teeth out?
It was business guys on Wall Street who caused the economy to crash, and the system LePage and Trump ascribe to bailed them out and let the masses drown. Big chemical companies poison our water, homes and food with impunity, and weapons manufacturers have bought a majority share of Congress.
Not all businesspeople are bad, of course, but nobody in big business is an outsider. And if you believe someone who says "I'm not a politician" as they campaign for office, I have some real estate in Florida to sell you.