Governor Paul LePage of Maine has apologized again for his comments comparing the IRS to the Gestapo. So far, he has not stepped back into the muck he has created for himself.
Back on July 8, LePage called the IRS “the new Gestapo.” While many people have complaints about the IRS, and the agency has been heavy handed at times, the comparison is pure hyperbole. The Gestapo dragged people from their homes on political charges, put them in concentration camps or shot them. The IRS hands out tax forms and collects taxes. LePage is having trouble telling the difference.
A couple of days later, LePage apologized. Um, well, no, he didn’t really apologize. He issued a written statement that was more of an explanation than an apology. At the time of the statement’s release, LePage told WMTW-TV:
“It was never intended to offend anyone and if someone’s offended, then they ought to be goddamned mad at the federal government.”
That did not satisfy LePage’s critics, but the matter would probably have died down if LePage had not doubled-down during an interview with Paul Heinz of the weekly Seven Days. LePage really did apologize this time, to just about anyone who could be offended. However, LePage then proceeded to immerse himself into the controversy again.
“What I’m trying to say is that 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.”
LePage went onto say that Obamacare will result in health care rationing, which the IRS will enforce through mandates. In the process, people will be killed off, and the U.S. will end up like Canada.
LePage’s representatives tried to claim that Heinz had an agenda and set the Governor up. The audio of that interview clearly discounts that. The only person setting Heinz up was his own gaffe-prone self.
Even the normally thick-skinned IRS had had enough.
Colleen Kelley, president of the IRS union, said in a written statement that it was “extremely disappointing and distressing to witness not only the continuing refusal of Maine Gov. Paul LePage to apologize for his gratuitous insult directed at IRS employees, but to see him continue his attacks at a fundraising event.”
She added, “I would hope the governor would take the time to reflect on the importance and dignity of the office he holds, the responsibility it imparts to him as the individual holding that office, and the harmful impact his words have on hard-working federal employees.”
Finally, LePage apologized after meeting with Jewish leaders for 45 minutes. Amazingly, LePage did not bring up another comparison between the Gestapo and IRS in that apology.
It is rare that a politician keeps digging the same hole that got him into trouble. After a gaffe, most elected officials try to back off controversial statements or apologize never to mention the matter again. LePage is not typical by any measure. His term as Governor has been loaded with foolish missteps like this.
How did LePage come to be elected by the good people of Maine? He was the beneficiary of a crowded Republican primary that fielded seven candidates. LePage won the nomination with 38% of the vote. In the general election, five candidates vied for votes. LePage once again received 38% and won.
It is not often that a candidate wins a nomination and election without receiving a majority of the votes. It is even rarer when a candidate’s winning totals are well below 50%.
Maine is going to have to put up with LePage until the next election, but it is doubtful that the unusual scenario that elected LePage is going to happen again. Even now, voters regret their decision back in 2010.