Following Governor LePage’s town hall meeting last night at Thornton Academy in Saco, Andi Parkinson was chased down in the parking lot.
Parkinson, who shot the video of former Democratic state Rep. Joanne T. Twomey of Biddeford being escorted out of the building by security following what’s coming to be known as “the Vaseline incident,” gave some interesting insight into the ordeal on her Facebook page:
“An interesting moment after last night’s Sacopalooza… A member of Governor LePage’s team chased me down in the parking lot to ensure that I would indeed be posting the full video clips, as per my normal procedure for these sort of events. They were very happy to get word that I intended to do so and that I am planning on covering future town halls as well.”
If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out. Twomey gets up to speak around the two minute mark:
Not surprisingly, early reports of the incident focused on Twomey’s jar of Vaseline, saying that she threw it at the governor. But as the immediate frenzy has died down a bit, it’s become clear that- at the most- she merely tossed it on the stage.
For those not making the connection, in June of 2013 LePage made headlines for saying that Democratic lawmaker, Sen. Troy Jackson of Aroostook County, “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline.”
It’s tough to tell what Twomey’s intentions were for the Vaseline because she was so quickly and aggressively dragged out of the room, but it’s safe to say that all she was really trying to do was send a message.
Twomey, like hundreds of thousands of Mainers, are growing more and more sick of LePage’s asinine, bullish, corrupt administration. Folks have been saying it for the better part of this decade, the governor’s policies are hurting Mainers in very tangible ways, but he doesn’t seem to care.
In fact, it appears as though LePage’s new tactic to gain approval from his base is to poke and prod at his opposition until they become irate, then sit back and laugh.
Cris Johnson of Old Orchard Beach, who was seated in the front row at the meeting, gave his account:
“The conclusion of the evening was almost too perfectly orchestrated to give the Governor a media event to portray himself as the voice of reason standing guard against the lunatic fringe.”
“I was stunned that Joanne was selected to ask a question. She was sitting dead center in the front row. We had to fill out cards with names and addresses even to be considered. Everyone there knows who she is and her penchant for drama.
Moreover, she was holding the Vaseline in her lap and talking openly about his outrageous behavior toward the poorest among us. I think it was no accident that she was selected to speak.
One other thing that bothered me: Almost instantly, there were tweets on #MEPolitics to the effect that some crazy liberal that thrown something at the Governor. Those people weren’t even there. I was sitting right next to Joanne. Nobody had a better vantage point than I. Look at the video.
What happened, in fact, was that she gave an unexpected dose of fuel to the fire the Governor has intentionally set and I’m certain they were laughing about it all the way home.”
Republicans are using the incident to condemn all Democrats, which isn’t surprising, but it is about as clear a case of a pot calling out a kettle as one could ever find.
Said Maine Republican Party spokesman Jason Savage:
“It’s time for Democrats to tone down the rhetoric.”
“We hear a lot from them about civility and tolerance yet every time there’s an over-the-top attack scenario where something like this happens, it’s a Democratic activist.”
In his time as governor, LePage has relied on overblown rhetoric more than anything else to further his agenda.
He has attacked, in over-the-top style, Maine’s most vulnerable and stigmatized populations time and time again. He has ignited divisiveness and spread ignorance fueled hatred across our state in the name of blind, backwards policy that helps the wealthy and hurts the poor.
In countless instances since he took office in 2010, LePage has offended us, disgusted us, infuriated us, and mocked us. He has displayed complete incivility and intolerance, and embraced the role of the unabashed, bull-headed, right-wing mouthpiece to the point where he made those traits cornerstones of his re-election bid.
Yet when confronted by an activist from the other side of the aisle who’s found the courage to look him square in the eye and give him a dose of his own medicine, he suddenly found himself speechless, as is the case with most typical bullies.
Twomey is taking a lot of flack for her actions, particularly for her Vaseline prop and for the fact that she approached the stage, but I’d like to applaud her.
She stood up to the most powerful man in Maine and acted in the heat of the moment. She brought a jar of Vaseline because she couldn’t stuff an immigrant or sick elderly person or recovering drug addict into her purse, and she wanted to make a statement.
She sent a message to the governor that marginalized Mainers are reaching their breaking points, and a message to the rest of us that when you confront the bully in the Blaine House with ferocity equal to his own, he crumbles and waits for his servants to save him.
Were Twomey’s actions well thought out? Probably not.
Was the Vaseline prop over the top? Maybe.
But was her message delivered? Absolutely.