Susan Collins is Not a Moderate

Regular readers know that I consider Republican Susan Collins of Maine to be the most dishonest incumbent up for re-election in 2008 (even moreso than corruption czar Ted Stevens).  I have chronicled her long list of lies, hypocrisies, and right-wing allegiances and highlighted her history of manufacturing bogus scandals and artificial controversieswith which to attack political opponents.Not only is Susan Collins dishonest and hypocritical.  Her moderate façade is just that – a politically motivated ruse so that she can enjoy the reflected glow of Olympia Snowe’s approval rating while appeasing the far-right Republican leadership in the Senate and the Bush administration.  There is a long list of issues and individual pieces of legislation on which Senator Olympia Snowe and Democratic Congressman Tom Allen are on one side (read: the sensible side) of an issue while Republican Susan Collins sides with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.Maine State Representative Sean Faircloth laid out many of these issues in the Bangor Metro:

Senator Collins and President Bush disagree strongly with Senator Snowe, Congressman Mike Michaud, and Congressman Tom Allen. Like Congressmen Tom Allen and Mike Michaud, Senator Snowe agrees we need a firm date for withdrawal from Iraq. Senator Collins would leave as many as 100,000 troops in Iraq over 10 years.President Bush proposed $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Like Congressmen Allen?and Michaud, Snowe voted no. Collins voted yes.

Habeas corpus protects legal rights in civilized nations. Like Congressmen Allen and Michaud, Senator Snowe voted to restore habeas corpus rights that had been suspended by President Bush for people labeled “terrorism suspects” by the Bush administration. Senator Collins voted the Bush line to continue this basic violation of human rights. The Washington Post (September 21, 2007) reported that Senator Collins was “visibly angry” about this vote-not because of the merits of denying basic rights, but because Senator Snowe had not provided “cover” for the pro-Bush vote of Senator Collins.

Like Congressmen Allen and Michaud, Senator Snowe opposes dangerous drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Senator Collins agrees with President Bush, supporting drilling.

Like Allen and Michaud, Snowe voted to protect overtime pay for workers. Collins agreed with President Bush, supporting Bush’s cap on overtime pay.

Like Allen and Michaud, Snowe opposed outsourcing federal government jobs to private entities, entities which actually gouged taxpayers. Senator Collins supported the Bush outsourcing.

This leads to one of the biggest scandals of the 21st century: Halliburton. Halliburton scammed billions from taxpayers. Senator Collins was chair of the Government Affairs Committee during the time Halliburton was stealing from you. When repeatedly asked to conduct an investigation, Senator Collins followed the Bush line, refusing to conduct an investigation into an ongoing scandal that cost Americans billions.

Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, Constitutional rights, energy policy, workers’ rights, outsourcing.  On all of them Snowe-Allen were on one side, and Bush-Collins were on the other.  As Chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Collins had one of the most powerful seats from which to offer oversight on Iraq operations and investigate waste, fraud, abuse, and war profiteering.  But she didn’t oversee or investigate.  She carried George W. Bush’s water like a good Bushie.  Perhaps the best example of the principle-free political posturing with which Susan Collins conducts herself is that of the habeas corpus vote.  The Washington Post reports:

Collins was steaming mad yesterday when Snowe, without warning, switched her vote to side with Democrats to restore habeas corpus rights for terrorism suspects.Snowe had initially backed Republican leaders by voting “nay” on the procedural motion to force a final vote. But once it became clear that the GOP had more than enough votes to win, Snowe switched her vote to “yea.”

Snowe apparently did not inform her leadership of the switch, according to aides and senators familiar with the decision. Therefore, Collins never got the message, leaving her all alone.

Collins, who is facing a potentially tough reelection battle next fall against Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine), an antiwar liberal, was visibly angry, according to eyewitnesses in the chamber’s press gallery. She paced around the floor, confronting several members of the leadership.

“There was just a miscommunication there,” explained Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.), the Republican whip in charge of counting votes. Lott said that although Collins and Snowe almost always try to vote similarly on key issues, “sometimes they get their signals crossed.”

Washingtonpost.com’s partisan unity database shows that Snowe has managed to be ever so slightly more liberal in her voting record. She has sided with a majority of GOP colleagues on 62.5 percent of roll-call votes this year, compared with 66.7 percent for Collins.

Collins’s office had little to say about the vote switch, other than to maintain that she was not a flip-flopper. “She voted the same way the last time the issue came up,” spokeswoman Jen Burita said in an e-mail. “She did not discuss her vote with Sen. Snowe and we don’t have any idea why Sen. Snowe switched her vote.”

Snowe spokesman John Gentzel said: “Senator Snowe ultimately decided on this procedural motion simply to allow for additional debate on the issue. I don’t know if she had conversations with leadership.”

It’s all about political posturing as a moderate when the far-right GOP leadership has the votes it needs, and backing the far-right leadership when they need her vote.  If Collins knew that the GOP had the votes they needed and that Snowe was changing her vote (read: not giving her political cover), she would have quickly changed her vote too.  Why?  Because her vote was based not on principle but purely on politics.

Same deal on reproductive rights.  Susan Collins claims to be pro-choice to appease her electorate.  But then she votes to support George W. Bush’s judicial nominations like Sam Alito and John Roberts who are working as we speak to dismantle reproductive and privacy rights.  Susan Collins talks like a moderate but votes like a conservative, out of step with mainstream Maine voters.

Just after the 2006 election, when Senate Republicans were selecting who would serve in their leadership roles, Collins had promised her vote for Republican Whip to the relatively less conservative Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.  But did she keep her promise or did shevote more conservatively than she promised?

Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) stunning return to the Senate leadership was made possible by the last-minute defections of Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) rival campaign for Republican whip. …During the scret vote, Collins’s nervous body language led Alexander’s allies to suspect that she had switched at the final moment.

Susan Collins broke her promise and voted for the most conservative option for Senate Republican leadership.  This episode offers clear insight into the direction in which Collins really wants to have the Senate agenda move.  Oh, interesting postscript, before serving out his term as Republican Whip, the Collins-backed Trent Lott resigned to stay ahead of new ethics rules and went to work as a lobbyist.  That’s what gets the Susan Collins seal of approval.

George W. Bush has the highest disapproval rating in the history of Presidential polling.  And Susan Collins votes the way he wants her to82% of the time.  Arch-conservative Rick Santorum, who was bounced from his Senate seat in 2006 for being too conservative for his electorate, has called Susan Collins a “team player” for Senate conservatives when they need her vote.  Because Susan Collins is no moderate.  Susan Collins is a “team player” for the furthest-right-wing elements of the Republican Party, only offering Maine voters the illusion of a moderate.

What can you do to help oust Susan Collins in 2008?  Two things you can do right away are:
1) make a contribution to Congressman Tom Allen via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page; and,
2) write a letter to the editor of any of Maine’s numerous print media outlets discussing how Tom Allen and Olympia Snowe vote one way, in favor of Maine’s families, and how Susan Collins votes another way, the way George W. Bush and Dick Cheney want her to.

To close, here is a collection of Susan Collins’ greatest hits on YouTube:

Susan Collins: right-wing team player Susan Collins votes with Bush-Cheney
Susan Collins’ real voting record Susan Collins’ real constituents
Susan Collins keeps us in Iraq Susan Collins still keeps us in Iraq

Click here for the new senate guru blog…

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