Monday, December 13, 2010

Credit, But How Much?

Sen. Collins deserves credit for backing repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" last week.

And while her behavior during "negotiations" inspired serious skepticism, making it clear that she was approaching the process with something short of good faith, the circumstantial evidence suggests that, in the end, the junior senator was genuinely interested in bringing about repeal.

That willingness to do the right thing is to be commended.

But let's not get carried away.

Hoping off the fence to support an extremely popular, morally necessary policy that's in the national interest and the interest of national security after its defeat was already certain isn't exactly a triumph of virtue--or even a demonstration of sincerity. A "declaration of conscience" moment it wasn't.

The better analogy is to a person who, after years of indifference toward--or even mild scorn for--her local baseball team, starts rooting for the home franchise once the team makes it to the World Series. And then goes around telling everyone what a huge fan she is.

So let's keep the junior senator's actions here in perspective. I understand the eagerness of the Maine and national press to encourage this kind of constructive behavior. But encouragement is one thing; rewriting history to cast Susan Collins as some sort of champion of repeal is quite another.

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