This November voters in Maine’s Second Congressional District will choose between the Eastport Mustard Mechant, Kevin Raye, and the East Millinocket Boloney Butcher, Mike Michaud.
The first has completed his term as Maine Senate president with an indisputable list of achievements. Often working across the aisle, Raye helped enact important reforms in health care, the easing of the regulatory burdens, tax reductions and welfare containment.
In contrast Mike Michaud simply continued to sit through his fourth term in a Congress, which was praised and appreciated by just 10 percent of the population in 2012. The remaining 90 percent don’t like it and don’t appreciate it at all.
This may not affect Mike’s re-election prospects all that much, since most voters are hardly aware that he is even a part of Congress. They know him only as an amiable guy who shows up all over the place with a cheerful smile—a kind of perambulating Smiley Face with a warm handshake. This is no partisan exaggeration.
In September 2009 RollCall.com listed him among the 10 Republican and Democratic members of the House “Obscure Caucus.” These are representatives who are known only as nameplates on their office doors. They wield no influence. No one seeks their advice.
You can see the advantage here? They are quite harmless. If they do no good, neither do they do any harm. Who can blame them for the failure and defects of the Congress in which they sit inertly.
In fact, Mike Michaud has turned obscurity into a kind of political art form. Check his web page (somebody ought to) and you will see he boasts that he “has repeatedly called on the President and the Congress to push smart policies that center on job creation.” He reports that he pushes, but has no new jobs to report.
He claims to “help small businesses and manufacturers succeed,” yet the National Federation of Independent Businesses tell us he voted against every small business bill submitted in the current Congress.
We read that he is a member of the “Blue Dog Coalition, which is comprised of fiscally conservative members of Congress who advocate for balancing the budget” and that “Mike feels strongly that deficit reduction must be a top priority for the Congress and for the Administration.”
The budget continues a trillion dollars in the red every year, but Mike “feels strongly” that is should be balanced. Very helpful.
Mike is so devoted to obscurity that he omits mentioning that this coalition is made up exclusively of Democrats and that it is down to 24 Representatives out of 435. A minority within a congressional minority, the Blue Dogs are about as obscure as Mike himself.
Not that this really matters. His great achievement is to remain completely blameless for anything and everything, while claiming credit for every cent the Veteran’s Administration spends in the Second District. It works like this: the VA is the second-largest department in the federal government with over 300,000 employees and a budget of over $119 billion.
Maine’s Second District has the densest concentration of vets of any congressional district in the country. Money will flow into it from the VA regardless of who represents it in Congress. All Mike has to do is show up at every ribbon-cutting to claim credit. This is routine for all politicians.
The editorial boards, which will inevitably endorse Mike—after all, he’s a Democrat, just like them—won’t have a clue about what role, if any, he played in designing the VA programs that benefit the state. But they will give him full credit.
The website tells the tell: Mike “calls on,” he “pushes,” he “supports,” he “fights” for this and that, he “proposes,” he “feels strongly” … but nothing happens. His website aims to impress its readers with a flurry of activity, but he has no legislative achievements to report.
He might as well be sitting at his Washington desk in a perpetual coma for all the good he does.
Prof. John Frary
Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former U.S. Congress candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and an associate editor of the International Military Encyclopedia, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.