Given the traditional tripartite choice—animal, vegetable or mineral–there’s a solid consensus about Mike Michaud’s identify. Apart from a few violent partisans who opt for vegetable the consensus comes up animal.
Moving into the subdivisions of “animal” we find consensus disintegrating into chaos. Our media, usually so mutually supportive, can’t seem to decide whether he’s a moderate Democrat, a conservative Democrat or a Blue Dog Democrat. Sometimes the same news source uses the terms interchangeably. Conservatives see a blue dog on short leash held in the Nancy Pelosi’s manicured hand. Others see a double-blank domino without stable characteristics.
Republicans make much of Mike’s membership in the bi-partisan Obscure Caucus identified by RollCall.com. I had a little fun with the O/0 Caucus myself when I dismissed him as an ignorant hack during my 2008 campaign. But my views changed. After years of further study, I began to feel that the man had raised obscurity into a kind of art. Now, in the midst of his gubernatorial efforts, I begin to think he has raised obscurity to the level of science.
Comparing him with Florida’s Charlie Crist does no justice to the man. Charlie may have been a Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat in rapid succession. He may have been on both sides on every issue, but he has always joined his latest side emphatically, and heartily denounced the side he had previously supported. With Mike it’s rarely clear how completely committed he is to whatever side he supports at any given time.
We recently read that “Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund PAC, the leading voice in Maine this election season on behalf of women’s health, today endorsed Mike Michaud for Maine governor.” Nicole Clegg, Chair of the Maine Action Fund PAC explained: “Over the past 10 years, Mike Michaud has demonstrated the ability to grow and develop a deeper understanding and respect for women’s health issues. That takes real courage that is noticeably lacking in politics these days. Mike has come to share our values, and is now among our most trusted allies, casting vote after vote in support of women’s health and reproductive rights.”
In 2008 an Associated Press story described me and Mike as both “pro-choice.” I replied with a column pointing out that this was untrue and explaining why I called myself “pro-life.” I added that it was up to my opponent to clarify his own position. He never did. Weeks later, during our MPBN debate, Jennifer Rooks tried and tried, and tried to get a clear statement on his abortion position. Mike talked and talked and talked. Jennifer gave up.
People who pay attention to politics know the common “evolutionary” pattern among ambitious politicians. Starting in a heavily Catholic constituency, they believe life is sacred. Move up to a broader state or national constituency and they believe liberty is sacred; life not so much. Dick Gephardt provides the perfect example. Running in a heavily Catholic Missouri congressional district he took a hard line against Roe vs. Wade, saying at the time: “Life is the division of human cells, a process that begins with conception. The (Supreme Court’s abortion) ruling was unjust, and it is incumbent on the Congress to correct the injustice… I have always been supportive of pro-life legislation. I intend to remain steadfast on this issue…. I believe that the life of the unborn should be protected at all costs.” After he evolves a bit, Dick decides to run for president (2004 and 2008) and “protected at all costs” becomes: “I…uh, um don’t really oppose RvW all that much, but I absolutely oppose opposing it.”
Al Diamon is one of the few commentators in Maine with a capacious and reliable memory (he medicates it with pickling compounds on a daily basis). Here I quote the Sage of Hernia Hill: “There’s no question where Michaud stood when he was first elected to the Maine House of Representatives back in 1980, representing East Millinocket and vicinity. He was against abortion. He thought it should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. He voted for every bill restricting access to the procedure. When he moved up to the state Senate in 1994, he regularly received glowing ratings for his consistency from conservative organizations like the Maine Right to Life Committee and the Christian Civic League of Maine.”
His abortion views grew a bit murky when he sought election to the Second District in 2002 against Kevin Raye, a pro-abortion Republican. Now, running for governor, Mike needs support from those first district voters who regard abortion with a reverence traditional Catholics reserve for the Eucharist. So his evolution has accelerated from the “mixed choice” level accorded him by NARAL Pro-Choice America to Nicole Clegg burbling “Mike has come to share our values, and is now among our most trusted allies, casting vote after vote in support of women’s health and reproductive rights.”
The point here is that he never expressed a pro-life position as clearly as Dick Gephardt and will not be making a clear pro-abortion declaration either. He tells us that “I will unequivocally support and protect a woman’s right to make her own personal private medical decisions.” He cannot, and never will, clearly state that he supports a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted child. He will not tell us whether he believes a fetus is a human life. He will never offer an opinion about the justice of the government taxing people to subsidize what many consider infanticide.
The abortion issue is only the most dramatic example of Mike’s mastery of Obscurity. Consider this headline from the August 9 Morning Sentinel: “Gifford to support Michaud: ‘Conservative Democrat’ on Defensive with gun control advocate’s help.” Gifford, a Democratic Representative who was shot in the head by a delusional lunatic, and her husband have created a new organization “to “encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them.”
Search the Responsible Solutions website for a proposal to “protect gun ownership” and you will search in vain. Apparently their hope for preventing gun violence rests entirely on millions of “background checks,” the website mentions nothing else. Gifford and her husband explain their hopes in recent column in USA Today. Their organization plans to “raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby, and will line up squarely behind leaders who will “stand up for what’s right.” They aim to raise $20,000,000 to help politicians like Michaud stand up for what’s right, i.e., to stand up to the “gun lobby” which is practically an alias for NRA.
These were Mike’s NRA ratings back when the only voters who concerned him lived in the Second Congressional District:
2012 National Rifle Association – Candidate Positions on Gun Rights 83%
2010 National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund – Positions on Gun Rights A
2008 National Rifle Association – Candidate Positions on Gun Rights 92%
2006 National Rifle Association – Candidate Positions on Gun Rights 92%
2004 National Rifle Association – Lifetime Score 92%
2001 Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence – Gun Control Score 20%
2000 National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund – Lifetime Score A+
1998 National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund – Positions on Gun Rights A++
GOP communications director Dave Sorenson takes this to be “one more sign that Mike Michaud simply puts his finger to the wind to determine his views.” Old hands in the Michaud Studies field know better. The man has no views. He don’t need no stinkin’ views. He needs votes from first district Control Nuts but has no intention of rounding on the Gun Nuts so we hear that “he remains committed to working to expand background checks while upholding the rights of gun owners.”
He welcomes backing from a group formed to attack the NRA while continuing to advance the NRA agenda. Or something. Or nothing. Or who knows?