As he strode confidently to the podium to give his State of the State address, the governor surveyed the crowd with steely blue eyes set in a face just shy of being impossibly handsome because of an intriguing hint of cruelty. He smoothed his close-cropped hair, blond with a distinguished hint of gray at the temples, and adjusted the microphone to a height suitable for his six-foot, five-inch frame, which — even his custom-tailored suit couldn't entirely conceal — was rippling with muscles toned not by some exercise machine, but by action.
The assembled legislators regarded him with a mixture of awe (from his allies), envy (from his ineffectual opponents), and lust (from the women and gay men). They knew from experience that what he'd have to say would be bold in its conception, enlightening in its vision, and blunt in its delivery. The governor had long since proven his ability to convey his ideas in ways that both energized the masses and inspired the political classes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Paul LePage, the makeover edition.
If Hollywood can constantly rewrite the Spider-Man and Superman stories to keep them relevant; if graphic novels can recreate Batman as a washed-up weirdo; if television can turn Sherlock Holmes from a coke-addicted, 19th-century genius to a stubble-faced, 21st-century jerk with relationship issues, what's the big deal with transforming a plump, moonfaced lummox with the interpersonal communications skills of a mob enforcer into somebody approximating Jack Reacher (not the wimpy Tom Cruise version, but the stud in the Lee Child novels).
I can anticipate the naysayers. They'll claim that redefining a fictional character is a different matter from drastically altering a real person. I beg to differ. Plenty of allegedly real people have undergone metamorphoses far more extensive than any Kafka character.
Susan Collins needed only two years to transform herself from an afterthought, one who finished third in the 1994 gubernatorial race, to a formidable contender capable of winning a US Senate seat in 1996. Rumor has it that Steven Spielberg was instrumental in recasting the role and giving the new Collins her distinctive chainsaw-cutting-through-sheet-metal speaking voice.
Chellie Pingree lost a bid to unseat Collins in 2002 by near-landslide numbers, but rebounded in 2008 to become Maine's 1st Congressional District representative. You can say what you like about the effect dating a billionaire hedge-fund manager had on her image, but I think her turnaround was all about bringing in Jon Stewart's writers to spark up her rhetoric.
And what about the Maine Democratic Party? A bunch of hopeless losers in 2010. A gang of kick-ass winners in 2012. Could that have had anything to do with the advice the Dems got from Vladimir Putin on promoting socialism? And those weapons from the People's Republic of China probably didn't hurt.
If it can happen to these doofuses, it can happen to LePage. In just a few short weeks, he could be upgraded from the jerk who told the NAACP to kiss his butt to a paragon, who has the state's racial minorities lining up outside his office, awaiting the chance to place their grateful lips upon his exalted posterior. He can stop worrying about a single Democratic tracker videoing his speeches, and start dealing with Schwarzenegger-like hordes of paparazzi trying to catch him cheating on his wife with Condoleezza Rice.