Taking the Cookies Off the Table – Pt. I

September 2010

The oldest known use of the phrase “take that off the table” according to Mypedia dates back to about 1962 when my sister and I were fighting loudly over the last cookie on the plate on the kitchen table. “I think I’ll just take that cookie right off the table,” said Mom. That was the last either my sister or I saw of that particular cookie. That was how it worked in the family – Take something off the table, and no one gets any of it.

In government, particularly in the legislative process, it is opposite – an item is “tabled” or a motion made to “lay it on the table” when it is to be taken out of discussion. It is no wonder families work better than governments.

I was reminded of the peculiar difference in the two uses of this one concept while contemplating the results of the recent gubernatorial primaries in Maine. On the one side of the aisle, the Democrat Party nominated Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell, a Southern Belle who uses her lilt to good affect, like Mother Nature might use a light shower to cool the flowers on a hot August afternoon.

Among the Democrat nominees Ms. Mitchell was easily the most left-leaning of the candidates. With an imported ideology that stood at the fore of the early war for legal abortion back in her days as an emerging activist legislator, she stands at pose today in firm embrace with those who wish to redefine the institution of marriage.

Libby has been a bit of a crusader during the Left’s Forty-Year War on Maine, crossing into what was then known as “The Pine Tree State” – a place where things grew – swinging her sword at every tradition that made Maine strong and independent until we became known as “Vacationland” – a place people eventually leave.

Cross the aisle, and walk w-a-a-a-ay over to the other side of the political spectrum and you will find the Republican nominee, Paul LePage, the one the media has dubbed “The Creationist,” despite the claim by Lepage that he has no idea what that label means. If Mitchell is the unholy crusader, Mr. LePage represents the lowly villager with his strange superstitious beliefs, wielding only pitchfork and pike against the invading hordes, seeking to defend that which the villagers cherish most – Life, Liberty and Traditional Family Values. Or does he?

Allegedly thrust into a Dickens novel at a tender age, LePage abraded his way through life, successfully emerging from Maine’s infamous French ghettos with an abrasive exterior, hell-bent on dismantling the same welfare system that so many of his family have become dependent upon.

The polar cultural opposites of each other, the LePage/Mitchell contest sets up like a Cubs/White Sox World Series, except for those pesky wildcards from the Independent Division…

The presence of three Independent candidates on the ballot certainly seems to present a roomy, padded foxhole in the Middle for those seeking refuge from the ideological warfare with its social issuance sniping that is sure to ensue from both the Right and Left flanks in the march leading up to this November’s election.

That would be, of course, unless people knew that the big man on campus in the Independent Division, the one considered Most Likely To Succeed in this class of the unclassified candidates, Eliot Cutler has hired as his campaign manager Ted O’Meara, the self-proclaimed conservative Republican who lead Maine Won’t Discriminate during those early, heady days of the gay marriage movement in Maine, back when the Diocese of Maine was innocent enough to believe that equal rights for gays had nothing to do with marriage, and back when the gay rights movement denied having any interest in marriage.

An admittedly disinterested Google search convinced me that the two other Independent candidates for governor, Shawn Moody and Kevin Scott, both may actually be completely independent of any opinions on the hot button social issues of the day that are actually the focus of today’s column – the cookies on the kitchen table.

At a recent gubernatorial candidate’s forum in Bath all of the candidates had an opportunity to address what popular media would have us believe is the single most important issue in America today – gay “marriage.” Well, almost all the candidates… Mayor LePage was off somewhere, allegedly hiding from the Tea Party.

Except for one uncomfortable moment when candidate Scott stood up, I think on his chair, in support of all those who stood in defense of marriage, and said he would have stood in the same place if the referendum had gone the other way, Moody and Scott have steered clear of the rather contentious issue of Truth. It is important to point out, however, at the recent Gubernatorial Candidates Minus LePage forum in Bath some lines were drawn in the shifting sands.

The crowd that night was decidedly pro-gay “marriage”, with men sporting ponytails and womyn coiffing crewcuts. The softball was thrown in slow-motion to Mz. Mitchell by immoderate moderator Gina Hamilton of The Coastal Journal. I paraphrase her question second-handedly, “Most Honorable History-making First Female This and That, etc. etc Senator Mitchell, you have been an HUGE, very vocal and tremendously supportive advocate for equality among people with all sexual proclivities, GLBiQT etc… Recently, a statewide referendum crushed the lifelong hopes and dreams of millions of Maine people whose only purpose in life was to marry those they were in love with at the moment. As Maine’s First Female Governess, what would you do to make sure that the most important civil right in the land, the right to an awesome wedding, was promised to every homosexual in Maine?”

Mz. Mitchell did not hesitate to say that she did not respect the outcome of the referendum and would do most anything in her power as Maine’s CEO to make sure that the referendum results were overturned. Shawn Moody sort of, basically, aw shucks said the same kinda thing, sorta, you know? Kevin Scott had his stand up –sit down moment, during which he failed to garner support from either side, DESPITE the fact that he was the only candidate who said he respected the will of the people, and as Governor would uphold whatever referendum the people prevailed upon. It was the high-water mark of his candidacy, and of course, the media missed it.

Eliot Cutler, (now there is one serious dude!) went so far as to say that civil rights were not an issue that should be left to the people to vote on, and in that regard he is correct. He is, however, unable to provide any proof that marriage is a civil right, but the booming voice and arrogant attitude will not allow petty facts in his way.

But I digress…

There has been a great deal of discussion of (insert sound effect of thunder and horns) “The Social Issues” in the aftermath of the nomination process for the gubernatorial candidates of the two major political parties, especially on the political forums and comment sections of on-line newspapers that serve as the opium dens of Maine’s political junkies. Surprisingly, much of what has been bantered back and forth in the flurry of digital ones and zeros add up to the same thing – nothing. There seems to be an emerging agreement among the chattering class to take the cookies off the table. To them I say, watch that your fingers don’t get bitten.

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