Sunday, July 18, 2010

Collins and the Right Flank

Why would a non-ideological, pro-abortion rights, pro-gay rights moderate go out of her way to raise money for a staunchly anti-abortion supporter of a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage?

The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Collins will headline a $1,000-a-plate luncheon for Toomey's Pennsylvania Senate campaign Aug. 2 at the Union League.


Toomey earned high marks from antiabortion organizations for his congressional voting record; he also supported a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Democrats deride him as an extremist, noting he had a more conservative voting record than former Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) by some measures.

Maybe Sen. Collins just has a thing for radical, right-wing senate candidates from Pennsylvania?

More seriously, it's worth noting that Collins is backing--and putting her fundraising prowess at the disposal of--a candidate who, in 2003, got a zero rating out of 100 from the League of Conservation Voters and a 100 out of 100 from the Christian Coalition. (Toomey's Democratic rival, Rep. Joe Sestak, is a former Navy admiral and a moderate, with issue positions that line up more closely with what Collins purports to believe. Go figure.)

To be clear, and for newer readers: The point isn't that the junior senator, by supporting a far-right ideologue, is showing herself to be uniquely nefarious.

The point is actually the opposite: Far from being a transcendent, above-the-fray oracle of centrist wisdom, Collins is just another loyal member of the Republican team.

Because of the exigencies of Maine politics, she's forced to side with the opposition a couple of times a year. But she's as partisan as she can get away with being.

Or, as an anonymous GOP leadership aide once told Roll Call, "Susan Collins is as conservative a Senator as can be elected from Maine."

The decision to headline a Toomey fundraiser just underscores that truth--one that's been obvious for years to anyone paying close attention.

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