I’ve read a few too many positive Olympia Snowe retrospectives over the past 24 hours, so I’d like to remind everyone that she was one of the least thoughtful politicians in the federal government and she never pushed us any closer to any of the goals she held so dearly. Her only real legislative agenda was to want triggers put onto everything, and the big legislation she promoted of her own initiative does not exist.
As for her legendary desire for centrism–Jon Chait accurately notes that in practice this mostly meant going with the Republicans when push came to shove, though with a token amount of grumbling. Iraq, Bush’s Tax Cuts, and later flip-flopping on the Affordable Care Act–she stood up to none of them, and each one considerably worsened the very polarization she so desperately hated. This is why I insisted her decision to step down was only partly honorable. Back during Snowe’s early days in Congress, pre-Gingrich, it might have been easy to see how the Republicans could have eventually been redeemed. Around 2000 it could have seemed possible as well, perhaps a bit less so, as the party tacked somewhat to the center to avoid the residual stink of Gingrich. But after these events and many others, that shift never happened and the overall trajectory remained unchanged. Snowe was aware of these trends, and couldn’t have undone them on her own, but she could have helped to alleviate this increasing polarization by bolting the GOP and becoming an independent, perhaps even to the extent of refusing to caucus with either party. This would have been a natural fit for her in many ways, and with her strong standing in her home state she could easily have raised money and won. It would have been an ideal solution. She wouldn’t have been required to make the awful compromises she eventually made, and could have had much more of an impact on things in her own way. No “team player” moments required.
Why didn’t she do this? This quote from 2010 seems revealing:
“Ideological purity at 100 percent is a utopian world and I don’t know who lives in utopia. I’ve never lived in utopia,” Snowe told CNN, before acknowledging the difficulty of her own position within the GOP. “I’ve always been on the outside looking in, in the world I live in. When you’re a minority, moderate, New England, woman, Republican woman, you don’t get more outside than that. Do you? I’m a minority within a minority. I’ve been fighting my whole life.”
Snowe frequently cited her party as a part of her identity, though she frequently was bothered by extemists within the tent her entire family and life is wrapped up in Republican politics. So that’s why she stayed, I think. But her concern didn’t extend to action because she saw her position as being very weak, a marginalized figure who had to fight hard to scratch out a niche for herself. Once that was done, she restrained herself to a minor role, rather than throw her weight around, because she was aware of her marginalization. So, she made a move here or a move there, but never became a early-00′s McCain-like rebel and often backed down from voting for certain things (health care reform?) at the party’s request.
I actually think she underestimated her power by quite a bit. For one thing, Snowe actually did have cards to play. She could have pulled a McCain and invaded the Sunday shows and become a bipartisan martyr, always a popular stance in that town. She could have gone indy if Republicans tried to push her. She could have quit, which was her eventual choice. For another thing, maverickiness never really hurt the careers of those politicians who tried it. And it’s not as though these people get kicked out of the club for heresy, as both John McCain and Joe Lieberman held committee chairmanships during the periods when their respective parties wanted to drop kick them both off of the nearest cliff. I do believe that Olympia Snowe really wished that polarization was not as intense, and that Republican policies were more moderate. But in the end, she was either not cunning enough or not tough enough to try to make them that way, or even to try very hard. She was content to be a part of the growing problem she hated by continuing to be a member of the side causing the problem, so long as she was able to keep her post and vent her displeasure. This is not what I’d consider to be a successful political career, even (especially?) going by her own goals.
I guess Michigan's voters soured on Santorum quicker than I figured. Understandable.
In any event, I think this is really cool, and I hope it has an effect. California is nothing if not a leader among the states. We're forcing the U.S. to deal with global warming, now we're doing the same with civil liberties too. We'll do whatever we need to do and bring the rest of y'all along for the ride. I do love this state, and think its flaws are well outweighed by its virtues.
My favorite part of this article is the picture of Ricky having a Sad:
When Tuesday’s Republican primary outcome became clear, Rick Santorum facedhis supporters and declared it “an absolutely great night”—which it may have been, but not for Rick Santorum. He was crushed by Mitt Romney in Arizona, where, just a week ago, polls showed Santorum within easy striking distance of the frontrunner. And in the marquee contest in Michigan, Santorum blew what two polls had recently shown to be a double-digit lead, taking a loss he had no choice but to portray as a moral victory.
But the most striking feature of Santorum’s double-header defeat Tuesday was his failure to win a majority of his fellow Catholic faithful, who went for the Mormon Romney by a six-point margin in both Arizona and Michigan.
The new poll does not reflect the weeks of controversy around Brown’s co-sponsorship of legislation permitting employers to restrict access to contraception insurance coverage on religious grounds. Brown has sparred with former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who challenged the senator’s assertion that the policy echoed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy‘s, whom Brown succeeded in a 2010 upset election.It doesn’t reflect weeks of controversy? When was this thing taken, exactly, last June? Also, a 4.6% margin of error seems a bit high to me. Look, I’m well aware that Brown is going to be tough to topple, there’s a reason these people have retention rates over 90%. But let’s present information that has some semblance of relevance is all I’m saying. I can definitely believe this though: “Warren showed more strength among the more educated. Among college graduates, 47 percent reported a positive opinion of her, while 28 percent of those with a high school degree or less and 35 percent of those with some college education viewed her positively.” Scott Brown is, along with Ben Nelson, one of the less “with it” members of the Senate, and I suppose those folks want some representation too.
Santorum wins Michigan by 2. Romney will try to spin it as all the Dems' fault, but I don't expect it to carry water. Ultimately, a win is all that matters to the press. And if Romney loses, he'll be in a crappy state to compete on Super Tuesday, after days' worth of everyone wailing about how much he sucks.
Romney wins Arizona by about 15, though if he only pulls out a single-digit win and Ricky wins Michigan, expect lots more sound and fury about how GOP elites will dump Romney. Do act surprised when they don't.
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