Tensions are running high in Maine, where Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s
string of comments comparing the IRS to the Gestapo, has Democrats openly questioning his fitness to hold office, and Republicans charging that anyone offended by the remarks is a hypocrite.
“What I think the governor is saying — he’s not a politician, everybody knows he’s not a politician, he’s a regular person, he’s a successful businessman and he isn’t politically correct,” Charlie Webster, chairman of the Maine GOP, told TPM Thursday. “His point, I’m sure, is that we’ve got to get government under control. And we can’t have government dominating our lives at every moment.”
Webster said that he had not seen LePage’s most recent comments, in which the governor said the IRS will behave like the Gestapo (including killing people) under the health care reform law. But “I assume that what he was talking about was rationing,” Webster said. “That would be the only way you could tie those two together.”
Webster echoed LePage in raising the specter of Canada.
“I’ve got friends of mine who came here [from Canada] because they couldn’t get their knee replaced in eight months,” he said. “That would be the only way you could tie [the IRS and the Gestapo] together.”
Indeed, LePage told a Vermont newspaper Thursday that he was referring to “rationing” with his latest Gestapo-IRS comparison.
“Do you want to know why?” LePage said when asked why he worries the IRS will soon start “killing” people. “Rationing. They ration health care in Canada and that’s why a lot of people in Canada come down to the U.S.”
Webster says those who are offended by the governor’s comments are treated LePage with a double-standard.
“The press didn’t interview me when local legislators here in Maine suggested we hang Cheney. Or that President Bush was a Nazi. I mean it’s a one-sided street here,” he said. “We only talk about something that Republicans happen to say, no one’s talking about these extremists that represent the Maine and the Democratic Party in this country.”
Democrats, meanwhile, say LePage has crossed the line.
“I can’t say it more simply than this,” Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant said in a statement. “Governor LePage’s fitness to hold office must now be seriously and openly questioned.”