Is it possible that the whole explosion with Gov. Paul LePage and his Gestapo comment is simple a matter of enunciation?
During the governor’s radio address last weekend, LePage told every tall tale in the book when it comes to attacking the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The U.S. Supreme Court had just upheld the law and LePage was spitting mad, just like a lot of other conservatives. He was willing to misrepresent elements of the law, ignore reality and spread blatant lies. His anger so apparent.
At one point, the governor made the outrageous comparison to the Nazi secret police, comparing the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo.
He then went on to suggest that by it’s actions, we could now expect the federal government to require all of us citizens to consume, or at least purchase, pea soup.
In the governor’s husky growl, maybe what he actually did was compare the IRS to gazpacho?
Maybe all the turmoil is because the governor has been reluctant to admit that he misspoke or was misunderstood? That he is incapable of ever admitting a mistake, even one in which he doesn’t know the difference between murderous Nazi thugs and Spanish soup?
Ridiculous, you say? Yes, it is. But no more ridiculous than the governor comparing bureaucrats to Nazis for enforcing what once was Republican-backed tax policy.
I do not like gazpacho. And I’m suspicious of anyone else who does.
It’s cold soup. An accident of heat versus time. Kinda like LePage’s election in 2010.
And, when put into context with the notion of cold, pea soup it’s down right disgusting. Who wouldn’t be angry?
Call my theory absurd, but it’s much easier to believe that the governor lost control over a sloppy, cold soup metaphor than to believe that he earnestly compared the IRS to the Nazi secret police, which helped Adolf Hitler to carry out some of his worst crimes against humanity.
There are very few apt comparisons to Hitler, Nazis and the Gestapo, and not a single one of them includes discussion of legal efforts to increase access to health care.
I must now reference Godwin’s Law.
Created by Mike Godwin in 1990 as an observation about online chats, Godwin’s Law states that as any debate progresses online, it is inevitable that someone will make a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler.
And a popular corollary states that once a comparison to Nazis – or in this case, the Gestapo – has been made, the discussion about the topic ends, and the person making the comparison loses the debate.
I read about Godwin’s Law on the Internet, so it must be real, and experience suggests that it’s very true.
The reason is straightforward: The Nazi and their policies of murder, genocide and persecution are unique in history and a singular evil. Their aggression brought the world to the edge of destruction.
LePage has shown himself perfectly willing to ignore facts, to put on hold economic investment for purely ideological reasons, to fire good people for no good reason and to distort the truth on a whim. He likes to tell people to go to hell and call others corrupt.
The governor has attempted – complete with blasphemy – to apologize for offending people with his Nazi reference. But the pseudo-apologies have come across empty and have inflamed passions much more than they have calmed them.
So why do I think the governor has confused Gestapo with gazpacho?
Because I believe in another set of rules beyond just Godwin’s Law.
In 1971, activist Saul Alinsky published a book called “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.”
Once a handbook for the Left, the tactics described in the book have been adopted by the Right, Left and everything in between.
Rule 5 is particular relevant: “Ridicule is a man’s most potent weapon.”
I could demonstrate, through a thorough explanation of the facts that the governor is irreparably misinformed or lying about the Affordable Care Act. The facts are easy to find and to discuss. My Bangor Daily News colleague Amy Fried has already done that.
At this point, it’s probably more effective to keep it simple and say that the governor is acting like a bullying buffoon, incapable of an apology and that he doesn’t know the difference between the Nazi secret police and cold, Spanish soup.
Gestapo, gazpacho? If the governor can ignore history and facts to inflame his Tea Party base while offending everyone else, then I can say: “Let him eat cold pea soup.”