2013-06-07 / Columns

Politics & other Mistakes

Bad word for a good thing
By Al Diamon

There are some words that are so politically incorrect they can only be hinted at in polite conversation.

The F-word.

The N-word.

And worst of all, the C-word.

Profanity has its place (hip hop music, professional sports, Joe Biden). Racism has its delusions (“I’m not a racist, but I can’t stand people who like hip hop music, professional sports or Joe Biden.”) But even the faintest hint of the C-word can lead to ostracism, loss of credibility, genital warts and excessive ear hair. Seeing a medical professional won’t help, because there’s no known cure for being a C-word-head.

You seem a little confused. Perhaps you’re thinking of the wrong C-word, although I wasn’t aware there was more than one that fit the definition of being ultra-obscene.

In the interest of clarifying my comments, I’ve received permission from the editor to briefly suspend the rules against using extremely offensive terms. The C-word I’m talking about is:


Sorry. I know that has gut-wrenching implications for hardliners across the political spectrum from Occupy Maine activists to Tea Party insurgents.

Their principles are more important than the practical realities of legislating. They’d prefer gridlock and a state government shutdown to giving even the slightest ground on such matters as expanding Medicaid, energy policy, school choice, balancing the budget or displaying TV propaganda outside the governor’s office.

According to the Bangor Daily News, during an appearance at the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce last month, Republican Gov. Paul LePage said his relationship with Democratic Senate President Justin Alfond is “nonexistent.” As for Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, LePage said, “(T)here hasn’t been an occasion that we can agree on anything.” A spokeswoman for the Dems responded, “(T)he governor stonewalled us for silly political reasons.”

Plenty of room for the C-word there. For instance, LePage could agree to limit his stonewalling to Alfond (using real stones and cement), while Eves could publicly admit he agrees with the governor on something, such as the day of the week or that Senate assistant GOP leader Roger Katz is a pussy.

From those modest C-words could grow a series of increasingly more complex deals, as both sides realize it’s actually in the best interests of the entire state to settle such issues as paying off the hospital debt, passing a responsible budget and making sure the University of Maine hockey team makes the playoffs.

Democrats could temporarily halt their effort to expand Medicaid to 70,000 additional recipients, agreeing instead to study how that change will fit in with new health care laws due to take effect in the next year. That would clear the way for passage of a bill paying off the $484 million hospital debt with a bond covered by revenue from a new liquor contract.

In return, Republicans, including LePage, could accept the notion that some new taxes will be needed to balance the budget for the next two years.

The “Gang of 11” plan to cut income taxes and expand and increase the sales tax is thoroughly detested by extreme partisans of both sides, so it would make an excellent template for a compro – oops, I mean a C-word.

Democrats could pledge to halt their petty complaints about trivialities, such as LePage’s TV in the reception area outside his State House office. The governor could reciprocate by ending his practice of showing what a tough guy he is by vetoing non-controversial bills of limited consequence.

Once a measure of trust and respect has been established, there’s no limit to what might be accomplished:

An energy policy that includes both imported Canadian hydropower and increased conservation.

An education system that finds room for both charter schools and funding for regular public schools.

A deconstructed Department of Health and Human Services, split into smaller units that could be held responsible for their overspending and other screw-ups.

It’s all just a C-word away.

The odd thing is that if the two sides found ways to work cooperatively (yes, I know, that’s almost the same as the C-word, but I’m assured by etiquette experts that it can still be used in civilized company), they both might benefit politically.

LePage would be seen as less divisive by moderate and independent voters, enhancing his chances of re-election in 2014. Democrats would be perceived as pragmatic, worthy of remaining in control of the Legislature for another two years.

The only losers would be the fringe dwellers of the left and right, who care more about ideology than effective governing. They could continue their disgruntled occupying and tea-partying to no avail.

Oh, and there’d be one other guy who’d suffer in this arrangement: independent soon-to-be-a gubernatorialcandidate again Eliot Cutler.

Because once compromise among Republicans and Democrats has its reputation restored, Cutler might become the new C-word.

Swear at me all you like by emailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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