Monday, January 17, 2011

Gov. to NAACP: 'Kiss My Butt'

Gov. to NAACP: 'Kiss My Butt'
Maine's Republican Governor, Paul LePage, Triggered Controversy but Has -- Somewhat -- Backpedaled From Friday's Remarks

Here's a little tip for newly elected, first-time governors: You might want to hold off on telling the NAACP to kiss your butt on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But Gov. Paul LePage, Maine's Republican chief executive, did just that Friday when pressed on why he would forgo attending events to commemorate the holiday. He later made room in his schedule, after the predictable fallout.

The remark came as a throwaway line after a longer, somewhat more thoughtful explanation as to why he declined the organization's event.

"They are a special interest," he told Portland's WCSH-TV. "End of story. And I'm not going to he held hostage by any special interests. And if they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black. So they can do whatever they'd like about it."

LePage's son, Devon Raymond, was adopted from Jamaica.

The governor, who is white, went on to explain his stance and stress that he also had a scheduling conflict.

But when pressed by the reporter for a response to claims by the NAACP that he has a history of being racially insensitive, the governor shrugged and answered, "Tell 'em to kiss my butt. If they want to play the race card, come to dinner and my son will talk to them."

The NAACP swiftly denounced the ill-considered quip. Headline writers were quick to pounce.

"I don't care who he's got in his family," Rachel Talbot Ross, the state director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told the Waterville Morning Sentinel.

"The makeup of his family isn't the issue and it never was the issue. For him to say we're playing the race card shows a real lack of awareness of the very important issues we're working to address. Our kids deserve better. Maine deserves better. His son deserves better."

In a statement following the governor's initial comments, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous called LePage "out of touch with our nation's deep yearning for increased civility and racial healing." ...

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