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What's missing?

LePage's nominees
By AL DIAMON  |  January 19, 2011

After an intense investigation into the backgrounds of Republican Governor Paul LePage's nominees for top administration posts, I've discovered an astonishing lack of diversity.

To date, LePage hasn't picked a single left-wing Democrat or Green Independent. No liberals, progressives, or socialists. And the absence of anarchists from LePage's inner circle seems pointed and purposeful.

This is shocking, because in previous administrations, these groups have always been well represented. Under Democratic Governor John Baldacci, for instance, anarchists were in control of the Medicaid computer system at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

This exclusionary policy has prompted protests from constituencies as varied as the Maine Women's Lobby (no female cabinet members), the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance (no poetry reading at the inauguration), the Maine Association of Convicted Sex Offenders (didn't even get invited to the inauguration), and the Pine Tree Society of Obsessively Whiney People, Mostly — But Not Exclusively — From Portland (motto: Displeased With Damn Near Everything, Except A Few Programs On National Public Radio And An Occasional Cup of Fair Trade Coffee, Since 1820).

LePage seems undaunted. He appears willing to risk the wrath of these powerful special interests ("Don't bother asking for the sex-offender vote if you run for re-election in 2014") in order to indulge his desire to fill key jobs in Augusta with males sporting impressive resumes and political philosophies much like his own.

Oh, and his daughter. Who counts as more than a payoff to Americans United to Promote Nepotism, because she's also one of those whatchamacallits that they're always complaining there aren't enough of. You know, a woman.

All this squabbling over diversity ("What? No Flemish-speaking Belgians? No plucky survivors of Hurricane Katrina? No advocates for gluten-free meals in the State House cafeteria?") tends to obscure the point. Which is that LePage is behaving just the way he said he would during the campaign. He promised a dramatic change in the way things are done in state government, and he's taken the first steps toward delivering on that pledge.

Not only that, but he's doing it in an orderly and rational manner that shows every indication of having been carefully thought out in advance. There's a plan being implemented here that has less to do with who and more to do with how far he intends to go.

What this means is that it really doesn't matter who LePage appoints, because whether his commissioners are all straight male WASPS or vegan lesbians of color, the net result is going to be the same: State government will be getting smaller and more focused on business development, rather than larger and obsessed with social services.

(Although, it would be kind of interesting to see how many right-wing, non-meat-eating, African-American lesbians the governor could find to fill out his appointments. And how the liberals would react to their nominations if he did.)

LePage's critics have been thrown off stride by his practical approach to implementing his agenda. They've tended to latch on to the more trivial aspects of his governing style ("No poets! Not enough women! No gluten-free doughnuts!"), rather than preparing for the real battles that lie ahead. Those political brawls will likely see LePage and his legislative allies ripping to pieces the legacy of the retro-New Dealers and tax-and-spenders in Augusta the way maniacs slice and dice oversexed teenagers in slasher movies.

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