Augusta’s Iron Lady


Now that Maine’s Government shutdown has been shut down, it’s appropriate to examine the drama’s plot, cast of characters, scene-setting, dialogue, and special effects. This may be the appropriate, but I’m not the man for the job. The mere enumeration of these components already bores me. More, the drama ran its course so quickly that most citizens never noticed anything going on, so no one will pay attention to an extended exposition anyway.

I followed the play act by act, scene by scene, so I’m able to offer a concise summary. Republicans negotiated with Democrats, Democrats negotiated with Republicans, the Senate negotiated with the House, the House negotiated with the Senate, Democrats negotiated with Democrats, Republicans negotiated with Republicans, they all negotiated with the Governor, everybody was infuriated with frustration and the governor got his way.

Paul LePage played the role of Governor LePage with practiced ease. The role played by Sara Gideon (from Away via Freeport) was far more original. Gideon is the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and leader of the Democratic opposition. She appears as the very model of a 21st century feminist. That makes her a whole lot different from the original Iron Lady, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a more traditional feminist — if she can be called one at all.

According to reports, Maine’s premier 21st century feminist has practiced barking the f-word so diligently that she was able to deploy it fluently in all its forms—noun, verb, adjective, adverb and exclamation—during her negotiations with the Governor and Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport.

The Margaret Thatcher Foundation provides a list of 8,000 speeches and statements, with texts for many of them. I could find no speeches or statements ornamented with obscenities. There is no record of any kind that Baroness Thatcher ever used the most common word in current English usage, although she must have heard it a lot.

The most interesting feature of this comparison is the 21st century feminist’s willingness to employ feminine weakness as a weapon. Gideon has not reached middle age without noticing that the enemy sex is vulnerable to tears. I have no idea whether her resort to the lachrymose attack was instinctive or tactical. All that is known is that, after our Governor exposed her to hard looks and harsh words, she ended negotiations and fled from his office in tears, declining to resume budget talks until the Beast of the Blaine House apologized.

The Beast told her to come on over to the Blaine House for her apology. She refused, insisting that the Governor come to her office in the State House and apologize there. Rep. Lance Harvell, Franklin County’s premier statesman, suggested calling in George Mitchell, the former peace negotiator for Ireland and the Middle East, to resolve the apology impasse. He offered to supply a tape-measure to determine the half-way point. This might have put the Governor and Speaker at risk of being run over in the middle of Capitol Street, but sometimes sacrifices must be made for good government.

I’m not certain how this crisis was finally resolved, but I’ve heard from an eyewitness who saw Gideon and House Majority Leader Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, holding hands and mingling their tears on their way to negotiate with the Beast.

This is the same Herbig who secured a protection from abuse order against her former boyfriend, Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick. There’s a rumor going around that they came to a falling out because Alexander refused to change his name to Herbig. The fact that Herbig emerged from the Democrats’ “Emerge” program, designed to infest the legislature with 21st century feminists, tends to support this rumor. The fact that I just made this up may diminish its credibility for many.

Hoping for a clearer idea of what role tears play in 21st century feminism, I called Rep. Deb Sanderson, R-Chelsea, for some insight. I knew she had experienced the Beast’s fury several times. It turns out that LePage had glared and barked at her before, too. Neither of them shed salt tears. Instead, she glared and yelled back. Then they settled down and she got her way. She was no help at all. I came away with the impression that the representative from Chelsea doesn’t understand 21st century feminism any more than I do.

So, the drama has come to an end, and we can all take comfort in the thought that Gideon gave way with some grace and the Governor was never subjected to a restraining order.


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