I blame Maine Democrats for Susan Collins. Really, I do. She's a Bill Cohen protege whom I'm never sure understood exactly what it meant to be Republican; she only knew that she worked for Cohen and he was one. She has the personality of a wooden pellet and about as much presence; it's embarrassing to watch her try and hold her own even on the Collins-friendly local newscasts, much less on a national stage (I especially cringe when I think of an interview she did during the 2000 campaign. She and Nebraska's Chuck Hagel were discussing George Bush's chances in several swing states, including Florida. Hagel was trying to have a conversation about voter mood and demographics-Sue's only contribution was, "Oh, c'mon, Chuck, his brother is the governor!"...actually, maybe that's not such a good example). Anyway, I digress. Democrats are to blame for her ongoing presence because in 1996 we selected establishment candidate Joe Brennan as our candidate in the senatorial primary that year. Brennan, a former governor and congressman, had unsuccessfully run a third bid for governor in 1994 (opposed by Collins, which was won by independent Angus King), and was fast becoming yesterday's news in the eyes of the electorate. I have long maintained that had we selected Sean Faircloth of Bangor-fresh, dynamic, and a very entertaining speaker-we wouldn't've been saddled for the past dozen years with Senator Stepford Wife. I think Faircloth could have beaten her easily. As is typical of incumbents, especially in Maine, she hasn't faced a serious challenge since.
But an article in yesterday's Press Herald notes that may be about to change. Susan Collins has a fight on her hands. And it's about damned time. Targeting her as a vulnerable seat, these ads by a group called Americans United for Change have been running on prime time here in Maine, pointing out the fact that Collins is talking out of both sides of her mouth on the Iraq issue.
Collins has fought back, posting her own response on YouTube, but for the first time since she ascended to power-certainly since the Bushies ascended to power-she is being put on the defensive and forced to explain some of her positions to the voters, especially as they relate to Bush ass-kissing. I am the first to admit that Collins is not a member of the US Taliban and maintains some very responsible positions on issues of choice, sometimes on taxes (although she has swallowed the Bush tax-cut Kool-Aid twice), and sometimes on the environment. However, the laundry list of issues where she has acquiesced to White House demands for loyalty votes are significant, including:
-Voting to authorize military force in Iraq in the first place (her presumed challenger, Rep. Tom Allen, never supported the measure and is likely to make that a huge issue in the 2008 campaign)
-Voting for the Military Commissions Act, otherwise known as "the torture bill"
-Opposed giving 45,000 airport screeners union rights because it would lessen administration control over them
-Refusing to subpeona the White House after the Katrina debacle, when she was Chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, thus cementing her legacy as a member in good standing of the no-oversight Republican congress
-Just recently denied her support to the Democrat-sponsored bill that would provide a light at the end of the tunnel for our soldiers in Iraq, despite making all sorts of noise about opposing the "surge" a few weeks earlier.
You can't have it both ways, Senator. You're either "moderate" or you're a Bush stooge, and, when all the evidence is reviewed (and what I've written is just the tip of the iceberg-haven't even talked about flag burning, lobbyists, etc) it seems to me that you're a stooge.