Susan Collins’s Ever-So Pleasant World

I had a column in yesterday’s Brunswick Times Record about the (to me) strange silence of our Senior Senator while our republic continues its plunge into constitutional crisis.  Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 5.45.11 PM

Here’s the text:

I wish I lived in Susan Collins’s world. It’s much more pleasant than mine.

I wake up to a daily worsening constitutional crisis: a president showing contempt for the rule of law. I wake up to a Republican Party whose leadership shows no interest in reining in this out-of-control president. I wake up to a Congress that is hell-bent on increasing the wealth of the wealthy and on loosening regulations that prevent banks, oil and chemical companies from doing as they please.

Susan Collins, for what I can see, wakes up to a world that needs to focus on celebrating the 106th birthday of the Girl Scouts and receiving a Congressional Champion Award from the YWCA. Reading her twitter feed is like returning to the late 1950s world of Leave It to Beaver.

I see nothing that troubles me in her press releases. She is concerned in one about Boko Haram in one, eager to help lower health care premiums in another, determined to protect seniors from financial scams in a third. These are all worthy causes, all appropriate for legislative concern.

No, it is the silences that take my breath away. It is what she doesn’t seem to notice that makes me think she has teleported to the land of Father Knows Best.

Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee s shut down their investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. They do so without taking testimony from key witnesses and without talking to the Democratic members of the committee. Susan Collins is silent.

Donald Trump fires James Comey and now regularly decries the Mueller investigation. Susan Collins is silent.

With crises in Syria, in Iran, in the Koreas, in Saudi Arabia, Trump fires Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. About the chaos in U.S. foreign policy, Susan Collins is silent.

Donald Trump daily tweets insults aimed at federal judges, at FBI officials, at elected members of Congress. Susan Collins is silent. On Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch she says nothing.

We do know how Susan Collins votes; those are a matter of public record. She shows us she is a reliable vote for nearly anything Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows the Senate to vote upon. Trump-appointed judges: she votes to confirm nearly every one. Trump-appointed cabinet members? She voted for all but DeVos (Education) and Pruitt (EPA), but about their many failings and misdeeds she is silent. On regulatory roll-back she has voted to approve nearly every such initiative. And is silent.

While Barack Obama was President she opined that his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland should be given Senate consideration. But she balked not at all when Mitch McConnell refused him a vote. Subsequently she voted again for Mitch McConnell to be Senate Majority Leader, and then voted to confirm Trump-appointee Neil Gorsuch when McConnell allowed a vote on him.

Susan Collins continues to work on the signature issues that have defined her so-far four terms in the U.S. Senate: strong defense spending (including contracts for BIW), support for veterans, protections for seniors, concern for the environment. By her actions (if not her words) she daily shows she wishes these were the only important issues of the day

Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are enablers-in-chief for Donald Trump. See-no-evil, Hear-no-evil, Speak-no-evil is their watchword when it comes to the President. Tax cuts, conservative judges and deregulation are their only concerns. In her silence especially, and in her being a reliable vote for Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, too, allows our constitutional crisis to deepen.

Please, Senator, come back to the disturbing world in which the rest of us live. Help all of us find our way back to a healthy constitutional democracy.

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
This entry was posted in Leadership, Politics and Policy, Responsibility and Ethics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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