Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Let me be explicit about something bubbling beneath the surface in my various posts on HRC's decision to endorse Sen. Collins.

Namely: Other progressive interest groups have absolutely no business going there. And it'll be a scandal if they do.

I cut HRC some slack on the Collins endorsement because the junior senator has a genuinely respectable record on their agenda. She's been willing to buck her party and her president, and she's done it repeatedly.

Clearly, Rep. Allen has a substantially better record. But I can almost forgive HRC's decision, flawed as it was, because Collins has at least stuck her neck out on gay and lesbian issues.

But when it comes to just about every other area in the progressive interest group universe, it's a totally different story.

Whether you're talking about abortion rights, the environment or civil liberties, Collins isn't just inferior to Rep. Allen. She's part of the problem.

And so if they endorsed Collins, organizations working in these areas would be turning their backs on their members and their core missions.

A number of factors make this true, and we'll explore many of them at length as the race unfolds.

But for now, one illustration: A key moment for Collins--and perhaps the quintessential test of her respect for progressive values--was the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

It wasn't the only time she was tested. But it was one of the more prominent. And in the context of the contemporary political landscape, her 'yea' vote was decisive: It was as clear and complete a betrayal of pro-choicers, enviros, and civil libertarians as you could imagine.

It erased any doubt left about whose side she's on. And it--alone--was enough to void any purported claim she had on the allegiance of moderates and progressives.

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