Virtue and vice

By AL DIAMON  |  December 9, 2009

That's a legitimate concern (keeping in mind that legitimate is not a synonym for virtuous). There are so many candidates for governor seeking public financing that there might not be enough cash for everybody — even if all the needy children in Maine go without supper.

To prevent such a disaster, Mitchell dispatched her husband to address the state ethics commission. According to an account in the Bangor Daily News, Jim Mitchell warned commissioners that with seven gubernatorial hopefuls seeking "clean" cash, "You may have no money for the general election."

This could place Mitchell (him, not her) in the conflicted position of begging the ethics commission to find extra cash — either by asking the Legislature to send over a few bagfuls or by allowing publicly financed candidates to raise some money privately — at the same time that Mitchell (her, not him) is busy in her role as a senator cutting funding for starving street urchins in order to cover the state's massive fiscal shortfall.

You were warned about the unfortunate connection between virtue and throat-cutting. Apparently, the same coupling applies to budget-cutting.

Both Scarcelli and Mitchell can lay claim to being virtuous, one because she's knowingly accepting contributions from those with ulterior motives, and the other because she seems willing to take taxpayer dollars from people who need it more than she does, while also preparing to tap wealthy weasels.

As the 17th-century writer Francois De La Rochefoucauld put it, "Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue."

E-mailing me your opinion at will not earn you any virtue points.

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