Maine Wire columnist
Unlike Chellie Pingree and Angus King, Congressman Mike Michaud and his challenger, Maine Senate President Kevin Raye, have sprung from the sacred soil of the State of Maine, although both are a bit tainted by associations with Washington, D.C.
In the absence of any question about the authenticity of their Pine Street State credentials, there is some competition of their competing claims to being regular guys.
The Raye campaign has a TV ad showing a couple of elderly ladies disapproving of one of Mike’s congressional perks, a leased auto. They are shown concluding that this shows Mike is one of “them,” not one of “us.”
A competing Michaud campaign has a TV ad accusing Kevin Raye of wallowing in the luxury of his official lounge, complete with a kitchen. This is meant to suggest that the man is not one of “us” but one of “them”, i.e., an elitist living high off the hog at the taxpayer’s expense.
The Portland Press Herald places Mike’s ad in the “whopper” category, pointing out that the claim that the “lounge” was decorated is wrong, that the “private kitchen” is nothing of the sort. Indeed, a “kitchen” consisting of a hot plate and a refrigerator would be thought pretty meager by the resident of a double-wide.
These competing claims to “regular guy-ness” don’t interest me much. Both these men have been in politics for decades. As politicians, they are “them” not “us.” Aside from that, you might argue that a leased car is a justifiable perk for a man pretending to represent the largest congressional district east of the Mississippi, but who believes that a hot plate represents sybaritic luxury.
Even so, that Mike’s ad strikes me as “small potatoes, few in the hill” compared to his 2010 Super Whopper. In that year Rep. Michaud claimed in letters to his constituents and in a newspaper column that he had read the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. I quote from his letter:
“Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. I have taken the time to read and carefully study all 1,990 pages of the bill and the accompanying amendments . . .”
Beware! If a man tells you he read and carefully studied volume 2 of the 1972 Encyclopedia Britannica (1,068 pages) in the space of a few weeks, brace yourself for a bargain price offer on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. Your name must be on someone’s sucker list.
Some may argue that this is not a real lie, reasoning that it does not qualify because no one could possibly believe it. True, there has been at least one letter to the editor from a loyal Democrat supporting this bizarre claim, but the man may have been pretending. This is an interesting question, and some optimists may hope that the BDN, PPH, LSJ and MS/KJ editorial boards will probe it when they interview the candidate.
I do not.
Here are some other highlights from Mike’s works and days that reflect on his judgment. He endorsed John Edwards for president in 2008. The revelations in Edwards’s recent trial have shown that he is a vain, unscrupulous, slippery, shallow cheat unfit to serve as Village Pig Reeve (assuming such an office still exists in North Carolina).
It would be interesting to hear Mike’s explanation of why he thought this shady shyster was fit for the presidency. The best that can be said for him is that he never claimed to have read the Affordable Care Act all the way through, although Mike would be ill-advised to adopt that argument in his defense.
It was also in 2008, that Rep. Michaud sent a letter to the chairman of judiciary committee urging impeachment proceedings against Dick Cheney. The Democrats have now had complete control of the federal investigative apparatus for nearly four years and no crimes have been revealed. Does the Michaud have an explanation or even an apology? I don’t suppose we will ever know.
Mike’s current position on the abortion issue could also do with some clarification. When he was elected to the Maine legislature from a heavily Catholic district, he was regarded as staunchly pro-life. His staunchness seems to have diminished when he moved on to represent a wider congressional population.
An AP report in 2008 characterized us both as “pro-choice.” I published a guest column correcting this and explaining my position, remarking that it was up to Mike to do his own correcting and explaining. He never did. During our debate on MPBN, Jennifer Rooks pressed him for clarification, but never really penetrated the squid-like cloud of inky rhetoric emitted by my opponent.
In the MPBN debate two years later, challenger Jason Levesque asked Mike Michaud for a list of his legislative achievements. He named but a single doubtful example of what he had done to earn the two million dollars in salary, benefits and perks he has accumulated while in Washington.
This surprised me since Mike’s 2008 campaign “palm card” proudly and prominently boasted that he had “authored” a constitutional amendment to freeze the social security program for all time in its present form. Did he really believe this stood out as a major achievement? Anyone can “author” a constitution amendment. All you need is a pen and piece of paper.
Back in 2010 I myself authored a constitutional amendment before a large audience in Dover-Foxcroft. My 28th Amendment read as follows: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively and to the people—and this time we really mean it.”
I thought this a very fine amendment. According to Bruce Poliquin, it took me just 15 seconds to write it. The only problem is that no congressional committee and no state legislature has ever given it a second’s worth of attention. As far as I know, the same can be said of the amendment Mike “authored.” Will the editorial boards ask him about the progress of his amendment? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Our state’s journalist community tells us that Rep. Mike Michaud is a semi-demi-quasi moderate bi-partisan Blue Dog Democrat. This useful designation is a product of his masterful obscurity and support for gun rights.
As far as I know, Mike is the only Blue Dog Democrat (BDD) celebrated as a hero, along with such loony leftists as Dennis Kucinich, for voting against “Obama’s War” in 2009. He has also received the thanks of the MoveOn.org loonies for supporting the “Fair Elections Act” ostensibly designed to give the advantage to “grass-roots” campaign contributions. They forgave him for taking $83,000 in PAC contribution in 2010 while his Republican opponent received a paltry $1,200.
If Mike is a BDD, he’s dog on a short leash held in the manicured hand of a strange alien creature from the distant planet San Francisco named Nancy Pelosi. She willingly slaps a blotch or two of blue paint on her pooch, allowing him to support gun rights and vote the other way on issues critical to his re-election, but she knows he will roll over, sit up and beg or lick her elegant shoes on command. The inattentive voter misses the leash and remembers only a vague blue blur.
Mike will remain true to the Frisco-East Millinocket Axis. He knows who butters his dog biscuit.
Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former US Congress candidate and retired history professor, a board member of Maine Taxpayers United and an associate editor of the International Military Encyclopedia. He can be reached at: email@example.com.