I'll believe it when I see it

This column in today's Kennebec Journal (our local paper here in Maine) caught my eye, and prompted me to write about something long on my mind. To wit, its premise:

Mainers -- even staunch Democrats -- probably should celebrate the re-election of Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Not because Chambliss is a wonderful legislator or has ideas that will solve the nation's problems. Neither is true. I think Chambliss, now starting his second term, is a mediocre senator, at best.

But Chambliss' re-election in a runoff in Georgia kept Democrats from gaining a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate and, in the process, made Maine's senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, two of the most powerful people in Washington.

The two Mainers -- with moderate to liberal leanings -- will hold the balance of power as the White House and Senate Democrats draft legislation dealing with the war in Iraq, health care and the struggling economy.

First of all, no thinking person should be glad Saxby Chambliss is going back to the Senate. He is not what one would call a "good person", and I wish upon him the obscurity he deserves.

But beyond that, I want to address the idea that Collins and Snowe are moderate-to-liberal, or that they are prone to bipartisanship. I know they have that reputation, and I think it's a load of hooey.

Look at their records. When things have been tight, and when their votes would have meant the difference between a GOP win or loss, they've toed the line. I've been paying attention to this since I moved, and it's pretty consistent.

Alito and Roberts confirmations? Check and check. Confirmation for the odious Priscilla Owen? Check. (I can't get the roll call on that one, but only Lincoln Chafee from the GOP voted against her.) Amending FISA? Check. (Admittedly, they're not the only ones that caved on that one.) Scrapping habeas corpus for detainees in the war on terror, an issue close to my heart? Check.

So color me less than impressed by their bipartisan cred. Now, things might change with a different president and a different balance of power. An interesting test will be if Cornyn and company try to filibuster Franken being seated, which strikes me as a rankly partisan act. I will be pleasantly surprised if they balk the party on that one. But they clearly know what side their bread is buttered on, and I don't have high hopes that they have any intention on changing.

1 comment:

  1. Push comes to shove, they would vote to cut off the funding to their mother's nursing home if that's what the GOP told them to and it came down to their vote . . .