Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Senior Senator

Bill Nemitz doesn't break any new ground in his Friday column, but he touches on an issue that's been puzzling me:

Snowe, Hagel and Smith broke ranks for an obvious reason: They plan to support the Levin-Reed plan if it ever comes up for an actual vote.

Not so for Collins...

It's but one example of the widening gap between Collins and Snowe--who's not running for anything in 2008--on how best to proceed in Iraq.

Snowe, in her floor speech Tuesday evening, could not have been clearer: "We can no longer afford to place American servicemen and women in harm's way to instill a peace that the Iraqis seem unwilling to seek for themselves."

And Collins? Not so clear...

Collins has co-authored a proposal with Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

That measure "would immediately require the President to change the mission of our troops away from combat and toward counter-terrorism operations, border security, and training Iraqi forces," Collins said in her news release.

What it wouldn't set a hard date by which the president must complete said change. The plan's March 30 date for "redeployment," Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley said, is more "a goal" than a hard deadline.
Here's the thing.

When I first began to focus on Collins and the 2008 race, I had no idea when she'd pivot on Iraq. But I figured she would be one of the first Republican senators to get behind a plan that would force the President's hand.

And yet, here we are, approaching August--with a slew of Republicans ready to rein in the President, and two weeks ago after a Collins reversal seemed imminent--and the junior senator still hasn't managed to cut the cord.

Even when fellow "moderate" Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has given her all the political cover in the world to make that very move.

There are only two possible explanations: Either Collins is so fearful of crossing the Bush administration that she's basically frozen up, or--more frightening--she truly believes that the President should have a free hand when it comes to Iraq policy.

Both alternatives are chilling, admittedly. But one of them, or some combination, must be the truth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, but who really knows what she's thinking? Only 22% of us (Maine residents) agree with Bush on this war, so the seemingly smart thing to do would be to use Snowe's cover to break from the party line, yet she hasn't. It's baffling, unless they have pictures of her nekkid with Newt....