Thursday, September 23, 2010

Putting Her Party First

There's an obvious retort to the argument that Collins was guilty of rigid partisanship and putting ideology ahead of substance in her Tuesday vote against the military authorization bill. It goes something like this:

Oh come on. The military authorization vote was set up by Democrats as a political exercise, an election gambit to fire up the liberal base.

If Sen. Harry Reid (NV) was serious about repealing DADT and the DREAM Act he would have sent them to the floor independently. Or he would have allowed Republicans more than a single amendment. But in either case, Collins isn't to blame for Reid's political posturing.
I don't disagree with the idea that Reid was "playing politics." But that misses the fundamental point.

Namely, Collins has been telling us for years that she simply isn't interested in politics--who's up, who's down and who benefits. Unlike all those ideologically-driven partisans out there, she's supposed to be focused, single-mindedly, on doing what's right for Maine and the country.

Her reelection message hinged on this idea--that she was willing (unlike her opponent) to let the chips fall where they may, ignore partisan consideration and simply adhere to Maine values.

This wasn't an incidental point or something she portrayed as a side bonus. It was her central campaign argument:

On Tuesday she faced a stark choice: Stand behind a bill that had earned her support on the merits or stand up for Republican political prerogatives.

It's pretty clear, given her promises to Maine voters, where she should have wound up.

Her refusal to block out the politics and simply do the right thing probably won't do much to undercut her moderate bipartisan centrist branding. But it ought to.

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