In Maine yesterday, state Rep. Linda Sanborn (D), a retired family physician, spoke out in support of her proposal to accept federal Medicaid expansion funds. It's a measure that enjoys bipartisan support nationwide, and there's no good reason for Maine to reject the federal resources.
But one of Sanborn's colleagues, state Rep. Ken Fredette (R), nevertheless rose in opposition to the policy, and made a rather unique argument.
For those who can't watch clips online, here's Fredette's case, sent it to us by reader G.W.
"As I listen to the debate today and earlier debate on this bill, I can't help but think of a title of a book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. And it's a book about the fact that men sort of think one way in their own brain, in their own world. And women think another way in their brain and in their own world. And it really talks about the way that men and women can do a better job at communicating."Because if you listen to the debate today, in my mind -- a man's mind -- I hear really two fundamental issues. From the other side of the aisle, I hear the conversation being about 'free. This is free, we need to take it, and it's free. And we need to do it now.' And that's the fundamental message that my brain receives. Now, my brain, being a man's brain, sort of thinks differently, because I say, 'Well, it's not -- if it's free, is it really free? Because I say, in my brain, there's a cost to this.'"
For the record, Fredette, the leader of Maine Republicans in the state House, did not appear to be kidding.
After having watched it a couple of times, I'm still not sure what this state lawmaker is trying to say. Does he believe women are confused by federal-state partnerships in providing health care benefits? Does he think men necessarily oppose Medicaid expansion because of their male brains? Fredette certainly seems to be under the impression that he -- with his "man's mind" -- is better able to understand health care costs that women apparently can't see.
And if that is what Fredette believes, there may be something wrong with his brain.
As the Maine People's Alliance Health Care Organizer Jennie Pirkl explained, "Even the conservative Heritage Foundation admits that accepting federal health care funding will save the state $690 million over the next decade while providing health care coverage for 70,000 more Maine people."
As for the politics of this, I'm beginning to wonder if some kind of secret memo went out to Republican policymakers, telling them to be as offensive as possible so that women vote Democratic in even larger numbers. Just consider the recent evidence.
For what it's worth, later in the day, Fredette apologized for his "inartful" remarks. His man's brain apparently came to realize he'd made an embarrassing mistake.