Monday, April 30, 2007

Whopper, No Cheese

The AP turned its focus to Maine on Sunday, shining its spotlight on the 2008 race for US Senate.

Not much news in the piece. But Collins aide Steve Abbott shows his hand, proclaiming:

"Sen. Collins has always been a centrist, taking a nonpartisan approach."
What a whopper.

Still, it's a refrain we'll be hearing often over the next nineteen months.

Friday, April 27, 2007

53% to 36%

The Times Record breaks some news late on a Friday afternoon: According to a new poll commissioned by Win Without War, a majority of Maine likely voters want an Iraq timetable.

It's usually easy to dismiss a poll like this as "partisan." But in this case, the question seems to have been crafted neutrally, without loaded words:

The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, took place between April 9 and 11 and covered 401 "likely" Maine voters. They were asked if the United States should or should not set a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq that would see most troops out within a year's time. Fifty-three percent voted "should" and 36 percent "should not."
Keep in mind: If troops continue to be surged into Baghdad over the next few months--an escalationist approach that Sen. Collins enabled as recently as yesterday--meeting such a withdrawal timetable will be virtually impossible.

To put it another way, only about one in three Maine voters backs the Collins approach.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gonzales Watch

Now even Sen. John McCain is calling for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. This on the heels of new troubling revelations on the US Attorney purge front.

I have to say I find it increasingly difficult to understand what Sen. Collins thinks she gains by refusing to add her voice to the chorus.

Unless, that is, she truly believe that what happens in the executive branch stays in the executive branch.

Staying Firm

As expected, Sen. Collins voted against the emergency Iraq supplemental earlier today.

One thing she can't be accused of is flip-flopping: She's been with the President on this one all the way.

(The man she's supporting in the 2008 presidential race missed the vote. He apparently had better things to do.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Credit Where It's Due

Via DM News:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has introduced a bipartisan amendment that reaffirms that both federal law and the Constitution protect sealed domestic mail from being searched.

The amendment comes after a signing statement from the White House issued in conjunction with the signing of the Collins-Carper postal reform legislation.

"The president's spokesman has explained that the signing statement was not intended to change the scope of the law," Sen. Collins said in a statement. "But the statement caused confusion and concern about the president's commitment to abide by the basic privacy protections afforded sealed domestic mail.

"Given this unfortunate perception, I wish to be very clear as the author of the postal reform legislation. Nothing in the Postal Reform Act, or in the president's signing statement, alters in any way the privacy and civil liberty protections provided to a person who sends or receives sealed mail," she said.
Good for her.

That said, do I have trouble letting Collins get away with characterizing the President's lawlessness as an "unfortunate perception"?

Yes, I do.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Staying On Board

Today Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), one of the most conservative members of the Senate, called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Coburn made a simple argument at today's hearing. To paraphrase:

Over the last several months, the Attorney General has failed to live up to the very management standards he cited in ousting US Attorneys. Given Gonzales' poor management, it only makes sense for him to suffer the same fate as those he fired.

It's a pretty compelling point. And it was made by a senator with rock-solid Republican credentials--Coburn is hardly a maverick.

So why can't Sen. Collins get with the program? Why does she continue to stand with Gonzales, even as the most loyal of the Bush loyalists jump ship?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Money Race

Foster's Online breaks the news: The junior senator raised $832,075 in the year's first quarter.

Cash on hand? $1.2 million.

(No word yet on how much of the money was from out-of-state.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Lieberman Endorses Collins?

That's what it looks like. (Scroll down to the sixth item.)

As Mark Murray points out, this isn't exactly a shock.

But it is more evidence that Collins' re-election is seen as vital by members of the pro-escalation caucus. And they're right.

After all, Collins has endorsed the escalation's biggest Republican supporter for President--why should't she be endorsed by its only non-Republican supporter?

Heck, Sen. Lieberman (CFL-CT) isn't even waiting to see who her Democratic opponent turns out to be before endorsing.

Wonder why.

Maybe because he knows that no matter who she faces, Collins will be a more reliable vote for the pro-war agenda than her Democratic opponent.

UPDATE: From The Politico (and via Senate Guru 2008) we learn that Lieberman's PAC is giving Collins $5,000!

In other words more out of state money!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Actions and Words

The Kennebec Journal gets letters:

Just over a week ago, Collins voted against a plan to end the war in Iraq. When questioned, she responded "My vote against this rapid withdrawal does not mean that I support an open-ended commitment of our troops to Iraq" (March 28, New York Times). That response sounded disturbingly familiar to Bush's response to questions about withdrawal.

If there is no timetable, how is America's commitment to the war in Iraq not open-ended? How much longer our country survive under international scorn and how much longer will the American public allow the situation in Iraq to deteriorate?

The answer should not be "for the time-being." We need representatives that will stand up for our values in Washington, not quietly support the war while loudly complaining about the situation in Iraq.

We voted for Collins thinking she would live up to what she preaches, either we were wrong or Washington has changed her. She told us that she was against the war and in favor of a rapid end to this constantly escalating conflict.

However, her votes in Washington speak louder than her words, and that simply means our votes in 2008 need to speak even louder. I will not be supporting Collins in 2008.

Debra Whitehouse
Augusta, ME

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Out-of-State Money

Sen. Collins' recent video makes a big deal about the out-of-state dollars fueling her opposition.

This is a standard attack line for desperate, vulnerable politicians--imputing nefarious motives to opponents rather than engaging the opposition's arguments--but I've never understood why anyone would take this line of reasoning seriously.

I mean, Sen. Collins isn't ready to make the argument that Maine politics should be entirely free of out-of-state money, is she? She isn't ready, for example, to swear off out-of-state donations?

Well, no: Turns out she's just received a $10,000 donation from Snow PAC, operated by Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-UT).

Yes, you read that right--Collins' accepted a whopping $10,000 out-of-state check less than a month before she launched a web ad castigating her opponents for accepting dollars from outside of Maine.

But Collins' hypocrisy is just the half of it.

Just as important to note is that Bennett is one of the most conservative politicians in Washington: In the past several years, he's received zero ratings (out of 100) from Planned Parenthood, League of Conservation Voters, National Breast Cancer Coalition, Children's Defense Fund and the American Wilderness Coalition.

So, not only is Sen. Collins accepting out-of-state dollars--she's accepting them from a man with a couldn't-be-worse record on abortion, environmental and women's issues.

The question, of course, is why such a conservative senator would be so heavily invested in the re-election of the nominally pro-choice, pro-environment Collins.

I think we all know the answer.

While We Were Out

Just when you thought it was safe to take a long weekend...

Collins Watch was out of town for a few days, and it looks like we've fallen behind on an important Collins-related development.

Namely, as Craig over at Turn Maine Blue notes, the junior senator has responded with her own video challenging the Americans United for Change ad. (Watch her video here. More coverage here.)

The response is pretty weak--and not just because of the shoddy production values. Collins casts herself as an opponent of the surge, but refuses to engage the central criticism of her ideological foes: That when given an opportunity to push the President to change course in Iraq, she instead voted to strip the bill of its teeth (unsuccessfully), before siding with the Republican minority and the status quo.

The Collins camp seems to think that, just as in 1996 and 2002, centrist rhetoric will be enough to massage the facts regarding Collins' record.

But times have changed. Votes--and especially these two votes--matter.

I'm not convinced their old approach will work this time around.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Americans United for Change

The Hill has the goods on the Americans United for Change ad buy:

The anti-war coalition will turn its fire from Kentucky, where Americans United for Change continues its $200,000 ad buy blasting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), to Maine and New Hampshire, home of GOP Sens. Susan Collins and John Sununu. Both Collins and Sununu face reelection challenges next year in blue states where voter frustration runs high.

The ad buys in the New England states, topping the McConnell push’s price tag, will “call on [Collins and Sununu], when they have another opportunity, to vote to end the war in Iraq … and make sure the Bush administration is held accountable in the process,” Americans United President Brad Woodhouse said yesterday.
You can watch the ad here.

Collins' Good Posture

Craig at Turn Maine Blue tacks up an excellent post reminding us of Sen. Collins' support for the confirmation of now-Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

The vote for Alito is only a single piece of evidence for the proposition that Collins' "centrism" is more myth than reality, more posture than substance. But it's an especially stark piece of evidence, and one that demonstrates how deep her allegiance to the Republican party runs.

Does Sen. Collins actually believe her moderate, blue state talking points and just cave to the Republican leadership on matters of importance? Or is she really a close right-winger who moderates her message for the home state crowd?

I, for one, have never been sure.

Of course, to Maine voters, the answer shouldn't really matter.