Gov. Paul LePage speaks at a news conference at the State House, Jan. 8, 2016, in Augusta, Maine.
Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Maine’s LePage fails to defend the indefensible

Updated
It was the sort of story that made Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) look so awful, he managed to even surprise his critics. In mid-April, the far-right governor vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have allowed pharmacists to dispense an effective anti-overdose drug without a prescription. But it was LePage’s explanation that added insult to injury.
 
“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” LePage said in a written statement. As we discussed at the time, the governor, in a rather literal sense, made the case that those struggling with opioid addiction don’t have lives worth saving.
 
Maine’s legislature soon after overrode LePage’s veto, but the governor recently hosted a town-hall meeting at which he defended his position. The Bangor Daily News reported:
A junior at Deering High School had three Narcan shots in one week. And after the third one, he got up and went to class. He didn’t go to the hospital. He didn’t get checked out. He was so used to it. He just came out of it and went to class,” LePage said.
That’s quite an anecdote, which the Republican governor appears to have completely made up.
 
The Huffington Post reported yesterday that the principal at Deering High School described LePage’s story as “absolutely not true,” adding that the anecdote doesn’t even make sense – because Narcan isn’t available at the school.
 
On Monday, the governor again insisted the story was accurate, and pointed to Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck as someone who could verify the incident.
 
Soon after, Sauschuck also said every relevant detail of LePage’s story is wrong.
 
Circling back to our previous coverageNaloxone – sometimes known by its brand name, Narcan – is a safe and effective life-saving treatment that counteracts overdoses. The point is not to cure someone of an addiction, but rather, to prevent them from dying.
 
The treatment is inexpensive; it’s easy to administer; and it’s harmless to others. Common sense suggests it should be readily available, especially in areas where the addiction crisis is especially acute.
 
LePage, however, said he’s principally concerned with not “perpetuating the cycle of addiction.” If that means more of his constituents will overdose and die, so be it.
 
And if defending this posture lead Maine’s Tea Party governor to share anecdotes with made-up details, apparently that’s all right, too.

Update: LePage has now admitted he was wrong about the story.
 
 

Maine and Paul LePage

Maine's LePage fails to defend the indefensible

Updated