Future wounds

Brains, spines, and guts wanted
By AL DIAMON  |  November 11, 2009

Welcome to the 2009 post-election trauma center. If you're here to donate organs, we've got a long waiting list for brains. We could also use spines and guts, but we don't need any more noses. Most of this year's winners told so many lies, their nasal passages grew longer than the Maine Turnpike. We're harvesting the surplus and freezing it for use in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

Before you enter the first ward, please sign in. It makes the patients happy. They love signatures, because they're all survivors of petition drives to place unsuccessful referendum questions on the ballot. As soon as they recover from the injuries sustained in this campaign, they'll be hitting the streets with another round of initiatives, many of them identical to the ones that were just defeated.

You see, these poor souls are only capable of doing one thing — collecting names. They almost always get enough to put even politically untenable issues out to a vote, but they lack that part of the cerebrum that might allow them to figure out how to raise money and run an actual campaign. You're going to hear a lot of screaming and gnashing of teeth in here, because these losers can't understand why they're always outspent, out-hustled, and out-strategized.

In these adjoining beds, we have the Maine Heritage Policy Center and Maine Leads, the organizations behind the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and the excise-tax cut, both ballot questions that lost by margins usually associated with Chrysler quarterly financial reports. Even before the votes were counted, these groups were talking about bringing their ideas back for another try.

Of course, they're not discussing a new approach that might make TABOR III and EXCISE ME II more appealing to voters. And they aren't lining up deep-pocket donors capable of competing with the municipal associations, unions, educators, social-welfare advocates, and construction companies that worked to defeat both measures this year. They're just planning to make the same mistakes in hopes of getting different results, and you know what that's the definition of.

The heavily bandaged bodies next to them are Republican gubernatorial candidates Bruce Poliquin and Paul LePage, who tried to tie their campaigns to TABOR. If either of them survives until next year's general election, he'll need more than a Band-Aid to cover the spot where that mistake will come back to bite him.

Over here, we have the anti-school-consolidation crowd. We're short of space, so we had to put them all in one bed. There's probably some irony in that.

They, too, decided to embark on a long, difficult campaign without considering how they'd overcome their lack of money and political savvy, as well as the opposition of an entrenched bureaucracy. Apparently, they don't teach that stuff in unconsolidated schools.

These patients over here are municipal clerks, who were blindsided by the defeat of their pet constitutional amendment that would have given them more time to certify petition signatures. They believed the authority of their office would be sufficient to convince the public this change was needed, so they skipped the part of the process where they might have troubled themselves to explain it to the little people. The plebes, in turn, took the opportunity to revenge themselves on public officials who've made them wait in long lines, told them they were at the wrong window, claimed their documentation was incomplete, and ordered them to come back next week so the whole process could be repeated.

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