Was Paul LePage being racist, or just his authentic street-kid self with this rant about the rising plague of heroin in Maine? The governor pushed his anti-drug platform in a public meeting two days ago, arguing that most of the problem came from out of state. That’s when his rant when on a strange tangent, warning Maine parents that it might be time to lock up their daughters, or something:
About 30 minutes into the meeting, which was rebroadcast Thursday night, LePage responded to a question about how he was tackling substance abuse in Maine. He began talking about how much of the heroin is coming into Maine from out-of-state drug dealers.
“These are guys with the name D-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 told a large crowd. “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.”
LePage’s comments quickly flashed across social media and online news sites around the nation Thursday night, being picked up by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Huffington Post, MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” and Buzzfeed, to name a few.
LePage certainly made an impact on the media, but in the end LePage blamed the media for blowing the remarks out of proportion. His apology was an mix of authentic regret and the kind of non-apology apology politicians have a habit of making:
Maine’s tough-talking governor admitted he made a “mistake” and apologized Friday for making what has been widely condemned as a racist remark at a town hall meeting.
But Gov. Paul LePage insisted he was being unfairly pilloried for “one slip-up.”
“I was going impromptu and my brain didn’t catch up to my mouth,” LePage said. “Instead of Maine women I said white women. … If you go to Maine, you can see it’s 95 percent white.”
Then LePage went after the journalists who reported his gaffe.
“If I was perfect, I would be a reporter,” LePage said. “If you want to make it racist, go ahead and do what you want.”
At first blush, it’s difficult to understand how LePage could have meant something other than race in his reference to “young white girls.” Maybe the daughters of Mr. & Mrs. White have a few things to explain? However, NBC News lets LePage off the hook a little bit (although it’s probably not the intent) by reminding readers of the governor’s greatest extemporaneous hits:
“What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the IRS is not quite as bad — yet.”
“The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”
Maine State Sen. Troy Jackson “claims to be for the people, but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”
When LePage explains his remarks by saying, “You can take the kid off the street, but you can’t take the street out of the kid,” maybe he has a point. If that’s the case, though, perhaps he should stick to prepared remarks in the future.