The Bathman cometh

By Sam Patten | Feb 10, 2021

After nine months of exploring, research and preparation this week, I have moved into a new home in the city of Bath. Most people just cross the Kennebec here without stopping, though some harried parents may stop at the McDonalds in the Shaw’s plaza to quiet revolts in the back seat.

That is, except the 4,000 shipbuilders at BIW, and me, because I’ve decided to become a Bathman, or, perhaps, a Ba’athist.

This little city probably should be the capital of Maine, but it has more important things to do than regulate and tax the good people of our state. A long-time admirer of Belfast’s architecture and housing stock, I’d argue Bath’s is just a bit better. With its breakwater and array of commercial enterprises, Rockland is hard to beat as a city (and county seat) that gets things done. But it doesn’t launch destroyers. Unlike Camden, Bath gets very few tourists, and we are not required to wave before crossing the street.

Like the Anaconda, the mighty Kennebec draws its strength from Moosehead Lake before winding down through the state and gushing into the Gulf of Maine at Popham, 12 miles downstream.

Yesterday morning, I set off before daybreak to drive up the coast to Mount Desert, hitting sunrise around Lincolnville Beach, and realized that much of my life has been framed by this stretch of earth we call the Midcoast. By the end of the day, I drove through half of Maine’s 16 counties, reconfirming my sense I’d made the right call on Bath.

For those who argue Maine really begins at the Kennebec, and everything south of it is really just Northern Massachusetts, I’d report that I can indeed, like Sarah Palin, see Maine from my window. Depending on your origin, this is where the two-lane road begins or ends.

It is also home to what may be the state’s best kitchen store, and the Center Street Bakery holds a bold candle to Portland’s Standard Baking Co. I have not been to Searsport’s Penobscot Maritime Museum, but can’t help thinking one really ought to visit the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath first.

OK, enough Bath boosterism. I’m just declaring my bias and delight at becoming a Bathman. Should my political commentary take a Ba’athist tilt, you’ll know why.

Speaking of politics, here are three things to look out for in the coming week.

  1. The Senate will conduct an impeachment trial of former President Trump, who will not, at the trial’s conclusion, go to prison. Kind of makes you wonder: what’s the point? I suppose it involves voting him off the island.
  2. Susan Collins’ compromise stimulus spending plan will either be the basis of whatever comes out of Washington next, or partisan Democrats will steamroll it, because they have votes and a boatload of constituencies expecting them to deliver. A trillion here, a trillion there. Stay tuned.
  3. President Joe Biden’s staff will put final shape to a State of the Union draft that either lays out three things he aims to achieve in the next year, or tries to please everyone and, in effect, please no one.

Those three things? Successful rollout of vaccine, measures to kick-start the economy, and restore some level of political civility. That’s more than enough for now, as far as this Bathman is concerned.

Now my truck’s come and I’ve got to run. Come visit Bath!

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.

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