Paul LePage’s Creationist Train Wreck in Maine

A few days ago we posted Paul LePage of Maine: Liar, Lunatic, or Drunk? That was about Paul LePage, the Republican candidate for Governor of his state. While he was campaigning on the “freedom train,” reporters asked him about his previous statements that he wanted creationism taught in the schools.

His responses created the “train wreck” of our title. After having earlier said he favored teaching creationism in public schools, he denied that he ever said it, then he claimed he didn’t even know what creationism was, and finally he said that believes we’re descended from monkeys. He’s certainly covering all the bases.

The political media in Maine have been speaking about little else, so we thought we’d give you some excerpts from a few such stories, with bold added by us:

In the Bangor Daily News we read LePage defends comments in ‘creationism’ spat. The article is about a Portland radio program on which LePage was interviewed by WGAN co-host Ken Altshulery. They say:

On Thursday, LePage said he believes Manning [Arden Manning, Maine Democratic Party’s campaign director] and the Democrats labeled him as a creationist because of his background and religious beliefs. During primary debates, LePage indicated he would support the teaching of creationism in schools.

[…]

Replied LePage: “I have looked at my life, I have looked at my career. There is nowhere in my career where the term creationist comes in. The only part of my life … that anyone can ever consider me a creationist is because I am a French Catholic and I believe in God.”

After another go-around, Altshuler eventually asked LePage whether he was interpreting Manning’s labeling him as a creationist as saying, “you are not qualified to be governor because you are a Franco-American Catholic.”

“That’s what I’m saying,” LePage said.

This is serious stuff up in Maine, where — unknown to the rest of us — the mix of creationism and being a Catholic of French descent is explosive. How did this mess get started? The reporter informs us:

Manning has acknowledged mentioning LePage’s views on creationism, but points out that he did it only once in a fundraising e-mail in which he also referred to the GOP nominee as “an unabashed agent of the Christian Right.”

But neither Manning nor the Maine Democratic Party had mentioned LePage’s Catholicism or his French-Canadian heritage in any public statements. Party officials also point out that numerous elected Democrats in Maine, including U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, are Franco-American.

Ah, then Manning is off the hook. After all, some of his best friends are Franco-American. Let’s read on:

While the Maine Democratic Party has gone after LePage for his statements, the Democratic nominee for governor, Senate President Libby Mitchell, has stayed quiet since releasing a statement earlier this week.

Mitchell did not mention the creationism fracas and was not asked about it during a meeting with an Old Town Rotary Club on Thursday evening.

Why should she bother? She’s got party operatives like Manning to handle those nasty chores, and the press are keeping the issue alive. Meanwhile, LePage keeps digging himself in deeper.

Turning to the Portland Press Herald we find Communique to a candidate: Mr. LePage, people are listening, written by their columnist, Bill Nemitz. He says:

[N]ow that your recent whistle-stop tour of the midcoast region has turned into a full-blown train wreck, you’ve announced that henceforth you’d prefer your questions from the press in writing. So, here goes:

Question 1: When are you going to stop making stuff up? During your train ride, you told reporters in no uncertain terms that Arden Manning, manager of the Maine Democrats’ Victory 2010 campaign, has been blogging about how you’re unfit to be governor because you’re a Roman Catholic and because you’re of French-Canadian heritage.

[…]

And when asked at least four times Thursday morning by WGAN’s Ken Altshuler whether you can back up your claim, the best you could come up with was that Manning has called you a “creationist,” which is (to you, at least) a direct reference to your French Catholic background … (Excuse me for a second. I need to wait until my head stops spinning.)

The column continues:

Question 2: When are you going to stop giving diametrically opposed answers to the same question?

Again, the creationism thing. Back in May, at an MPBN forum for GOP primary candidates, you were asked, “Do you believe in creationism and do you think it should be taught in Maine public schools?” You replied, “I would say the more education you have, the more knowledge you have, the better person you are. And I believe yes … and yes.”

Now stop me if I’m making too big a leap here, but I take that to be a “yes” (actually, a “double-yes”).

We thought that stuff was said on the “freedom train” that we wrote about in our earlier post, but maybe it was earlier. Anyway, LePage certainly seems to have said it, so let’s see what this columnist does with that material:

Fast forward to last weekend. Reminded by those pesky reporters that you said you supported teaching creationism in public schools, you replied, “I never said such a thing. That’s what he (Arden Manning) said.”

Finally, during your Thursday appearance on WGAN, you said, “Creationism should be taught in schools under philosophy. Evolution should be taught in schools under science.”

So, as they say on the TV game show, is that your final answer? And might we infer that you now support adding “philosophy” to the already crowded Maine school curriculum?

The column discusses other issues, mostly about Maine politics, so that’s where we’ll leave things.

We are yet again confirmed in our opinion that creationism is a major indicator of whether a political candidate is qualified for the big time. LePage is one more example of the Curmudgeon’s Iron Law of Politics: Creationists can’t be trusted with important responsibilities.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “Paul LePage’s Creationist Train Wreck in Maine

  1. I told you – weathervane.

    Look for another switch the moment it becomes expedient.

  2. retiredsciguy

    Y’know, with the name “LePage”, you’d think he’d stick to his story.

  3. what a shame that people from maine are seeking to destroy a man because of his convictions , and not his politics. I have known paul since I was 11 years old and I have never met a person in my life that is more true to his word.My friend forever . Richard Roberts

  4. I’m sorry, Richard, but how is LePage’s stated belief in teaching creationism in public schools NOT politically relevant? And how is his subsequent statement that he NEVER SAID he was a creationist or wanted creationism taught in public schools – which is a patent lie – irrelevant to the kind of scrutiny we should give candidates for the highest political office in Maine? If this is an example of Mr LePage being more “true to his word” than any other person you’ve met… you need to get out more.