I was rereading Molly Ivin’s book “Shrub” the other day. She had optimistically subtitled it “The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush”. Written just as the 2002 presidential contest was gearing up it was an up-close look at Shrub’s political history. Ahh, if she had only been prophetic and his political life had ended as Governor of Texas. Alas, after 8 years of the Bush cluster-f**k and 2 years trying to recover it looks like we will be dealing with the legacy of not listening to Molly for many years to come.
My purpose in rereading this book, other than being able to say “See, we told you so”, was that I was looking for Molly’s take on how stupid Shrub actually is. She really didn’t address his IQ much. Instead following the journalistic axiom regarding the three things to look at in judging a politician “The first is to look at the record. The second is to look at the record. And third, look at the record.” She also says “The past is prologue in politics. If a politician is left, right, weak, strong, given to the waffle or the flip-flop, or, as sometimes happens, an able soul who performs well under pressure, all that will be in the record.” So she reported that “Shrub” was in the pocket of big industry and the radical religious right, that he was a liar, and that his environmental record stank and she was right. I did get the sense from the quick reread that she did think he was not a stupid man. The “awe shucks, guys, lets go cut some brush” persona was really an act.
In my circle of friends and loved ones we sometimes discuss whether or not certain politicians are as ignorant as they appear or if it is only an act pandering to their lowest common denominator supporters. Of course at this point Governor LePage is at the top of our list. But I think the debate may have finally been settled once and for all. My best friend was recently at a 96th birthday party for a family friend. This venerable lady is a big time Republican and obviously a big donor because guess who showed up to read the Birthday Proclamation in person! That’s right: LePage himself. In the course of reading this document, which he obviously had no hand in writing, he managed to mispronounce both “arboretum” and “emeritus”. This at a gathering of smart, educated people who visibly flinched at these gaffs. Not an act. He really is just the way he has appeared now for the last 7 months. Scary. If this is his prologue what’s next?