Archive for October, 2006

political stiff

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I have to return to the blogosphere with such a depressing topic. Maine politics, like incest, is one of those backwoods phenomena that’s better left unmentioned. Or it would be, except that, like incest, it produces some terrifying freaks.

Many in Maine have a provincial view of their state—an inferiority complex. Culture skips us and touches down in New York, arriving here second-hand. Our economy is a travesty; our taxes are absurd. Our poor and unfortunate wallow in squalor, deep in the backwoods. We focus on our failings and frequently blow them out of proportion. In reality, Maine is not that different from the rest of the country, just farther east.

But our worst self-loathing is justified when it comes to politicians. Take for example our Republican gubernatorial candidate Chandler Woodcock.

Let’s start with the name. All by itself—not attached to any human being, good or bad—all by itself, that name automatically disqualifies its referent from public life. I’m sorry but that’s the way it is. I’m even sorrier that he was a high school teacher before descending into politics. Imagine lining up the young people he sent to the office for succumbing to the humorous potential of his name. Fishermen, farmers, salesmen, engineers now—many middle aged—united by the punishment they received for taking Mr. Woodcock’s name less seriously than he.

As if that weren’t enough, look at the TV ads. The most recent one: Chandler Woodcock—mercifully not wearing his trademark bow-tie—standing in front of Maine’s iconic Mt. Katahdin on a resplendent day, declaiming on some rubbishy scheme to cut taxes, create jobs, and do all those other things we know are impossible. Chandler Woodcock, declaring it finally “morning in the state of Maine.”

It takes about 0.3 seconds for the normal American to get the reference. We conclude that a.) Chandler Woodcock is hailing himself as Maine’s Ronald Reagan (“morning in America”), a singularly modest activity; b.) he can’t come up with an original line of his own and doesn’t think anyone will notice; or c.) he doesn’t notice himself.

I’m honestly not sure which is worse. And I don’t think I care. If there’s one thing we Mainers do well, it’s apathy; it’s the simple act of not giving a shit—about Woodcock’s name, in this case, his ad, or his cookie-cutter right-wing agenda. From the above, I hope you can see that it’s not a regressive social trend, but a survival mechanism—a safe path through the hopelessness of our public discourse.

I should note in the interest of nonpartisanship that I mock Chandler Woodcock because he deserves it, not because I oppose his party. The incumbent Democrat, who will defeat him, is at least as incompetent and possibly more bland. And the a la cart options on the ticket are their usual outlandish selves. It’s another year when I’m not just proud to be a registered independent: I’m relieved. And it’s another year to vote for myself for governor.