Maine's irascible Republican governor, Paul LePage, has been in office since 2011 and has always proven to be a favorite among the state's tea-bagger faction. The governor, an intellectual lightweight, has the annoying habit of shooting from the lip, and his impromptu remarks often make their way into the nation's news cycles.
Take for instance the time back in 2011 when he chose not to attend events honoring Dr. Martin Luther King in Maine's two largest cities. When told that NAACP was not pleased about the snub, his response was "Tell them to kiss my butt." He also did not earn any love from the black community when he famously said last January that "out-of-state drug dealers come to Maine to peddle heroin and impregnate white girls."
Paul LePage routinely disparages minorities, fellow politicians, and the poor. Once he publicly reflected, "If you want good education, go to private schools. If you can't afford it, tough luck. You can go to the public school." He made that odious remark while discussing school choice at a local community college.
And Paul LePage's personal assaults and cheap shots on the President of the United States are the stuff of legend. He often uses the line that Obama stands for "One big-ass mistake, America." He's a funny guy, if you ask him - with the personal warmth and charisma of someone like former governor Jan Brewer of Arizona - or any other desert scorpion.
But LePage seems to be trying to soften his image. This week he adopted a dog, a Jack Russell terrier mix, from a dog pound in Maine. The two-year-old dog's name had been Jasper, but LePage promptly renamed him "Veto," to bring attention to the fact that he has vetoed more bills than any other governor in the state's history.
But Governor LePage could not even adopt a dog without stirring up a controversy.
Hannah Arsenault is a twenty-two-year-old resident of Maine who recently suffered a sexual assault. She saw Jasper while on a visit to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston, Maine, and knew immediately that he was the dog for her - one that could give her the emotional support and love that she needed to overcome her traumatic experience. The local humane society had a policy of "first-come, first-serve" as soon as the animals are officially made available for adoption. Hannah found out when Jasper would become available, and she made plans to get off work early so that she would be the first in line.
Sadly for Hannah, the evening before the dog officially became available for adoption, Governor LePage visited the shelter and wound up taking the poor Jasper home with him. LePage had bucked the line. When LePage walked in and expressed an interest in the dog, the officials at the shelter thought that an adoption by the state's governor would be good publicity for the organization.
Hannah said that she cried when she saw a photo on the internet of Governor LePage walking off with her dog.
Every dog and cat deserves a warm and loving home, and I hope that Paul LePage turns out to be nicer to Veto (what an awful name!) than he has been to many of his fellow human beings. But if the humane society goes to the trouble to develop adoption policies, then they should follow those policies. Fair is fair - and privilege is seldom fair. If the governor is half the man he thinks he is, he should seek out Ms. Arsenault and give her back her dog.
From the soapbox: Spay and neuter, America - spay and neuter - and don't buy pets with pedigrees. Adopt! Adopt! Adopt!