It could take several weeks--although I wouldn't be surprised if it happened within days. But sooner than later, it seems likely that the junior senator will get behind a congressional measure that seeks to force a change in Iraq policy.
And those of us who've been calling for just such an about-face need to think about how to greet a Collins reversal.
Naturally, the first thing to say is that it would be welcome: Any effort to dislodge the current Iraq policy will be difficult, and those of us urging change need all the votes we can get.
But that, of course, isn't the whole story. It's not even half of the story.
Because the fact is that Sen. Collins' conversion, when it comes, will represent the opposite of leadership.
Instead of speaking up in 2004, 2005 or 2006, Collins will have waited until scores of her Republican colleagues have stated the obvious: That our Iraq policy is broken; that change is desperately needed, even if it needs to be forced down the President's throat.
And so instead of acknowledging these stark truths back when it might have saved lives, Collins has timed her conversion to blend into the woodwork.
Instead of risking something by getting out in front on the most important issue of the last several years, the junior senator has waited to crawl out of the President's pocket until the overwhelming risk was in not distancing herself.
As we said just over a month ago:
At a certain point, the weight of the evidence that the Bush administration was fundamentally dysfunctional...became overpowering.Sen. Collins may be rethinking her position--and that's welcome news.
And at that point, those supporting him on Iraq were no longer just guilty of wishful thinking. They were enabling--and participating in--a political, economic, diplomatic, humanitarian and human catastrophe of staggering proportions.
That was the time for people of good will to stand up...
That was when giving the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt became an act of political malpractice. And that was when senators and house members who failed to use their public platforms--and their votes--to confront the administration became guilty of moral cowardice.
Maine's junior senator is on the wrong side of those divides. When the stakes were high, when the crisis arrived, she failed the test.
But it's too late to undo the damage that she and her silent colleagues caused over the last four years.
Way too late.
UPDATE: Looks like the pivoting has already begun.
The key thing to keep an eye on, in the coming weeks, is whether Collins is willing to show any flexibility.
Or is her amendment designed to fail, and to allow her to continue to stand with the President in opposition to those mean, partisan Democrats?