The votes of Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins on Jan. 31 in favor of putting Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court have become a distinct contradiction to their claim to be “moderate” Republicans.
Their moderate image over the years has been earned, to be sure, by sensible votes on environmental issues such as the Alaska Preserve, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and in Snowe’s case, a vote against one of President Bush’s more egregious tax cuts for the rich. Collins’ orthodoxy with the right-wing has usually been quite dependable.
Never have their votes made the difference in the outcome of the issues. Note that whenever our “moderate” Republican senators vote in a somewhat progressive way, they have chosen an issue and a vote-count that means their vote will not make a difference in the outcome.
Actually, they have received “permission” from their right-wing Senate leaders to stray from the reservation and vote in a way that will support their standing in Maine. When the vote is close, or ideologically important, Collins and Snowe are kept willingly and loyally in line.
Snowe had an opportunity last Tuesday. She could have shown her “moderate” credentials by voting against Alito — a real plus in her upcoming re-election campaign in Maine this year – and yet not upset the right-wing goal in the Senate. The final vote for Alito was 58-42.
Snowe did not do this. She voted, showing her true inclinations, for the Alito ascendancy to the Supreme Court. Alito indicated during his interrogation and from his background that he opposes a woman’s right to choose and the executive branch’s dominance in governing – true issues where wewere trained to expect Snowe’s dissent. She could have, but did not, deliver.
When the “moderate” senior senator from Maine comes up for re-election in November, these are relevant issues.