Politics & Other Mistakes: The senator from fantasyland

5 mins read
Al Diamon

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell what a politician is really saying.

Because, y’know, they lie a lot.

It’s not that our elected officials tell blatant untruths. They aren’t that dumb. They know that if they say they’ll vote yes on a bill and they vote no, you’re gonna remember. So, all the successful ones (defined as politicians who aren’t Bruce Poliquin) have learned to camouflage their answers to difficult questions, in hopes of leaving everybody convinced they said just what their audience wanted to hear.

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins used to be a master of this disingenuous art form. Liberals liked her because they’d deluded themselves into believing she was, at heart, one of them. Conservatives tolerated her because they could hear the right-wing dog whistles in her vague statements that indicated she’d ultimately vote with them. For years, this delicate balancing act worked well, making Collins the most popular politician in Maine.

The masquerade began to fray when President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins said she wouldn’t vote to confirm anybody who was committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. Kavanaugh said he kinda, sorta, respected precedent in court decisions – except when he didn’t. That was good enough for Collins.

Her vote in favor of Kavanaugh outraged left-wingers, who had convinced themselves she’d oppose confirmation. They expressed their anger by raising over $4 million to fund the campaign of whatever organism emerged from the seething blob of resistance that’s supposed to produce Collins’ opponent in 2020.

Meanwhile, the senator set about repairing her moderate image, sponsoring a bill to combat tick-borne diseases, voting against the occasional Trump judicial nominee and making her usual semi-solid statements approaching the relative proximity of criticizing the president’s more outrageous antics. Her poll numbers stabilized, and her chances of re-election now appear solid.

Except for one little problem.

Anti-abortion activists in several states passed laws that severely restricted that procedure and, in Alabama’s case, outlawed it entirely except to save the life of the pregnant woman. None of these measures is constitutional under Roe v. Wade.

When Collins was asked by a Portland TV station about the Alabama law, she reverted to her old form of answering in the most obscure way possible. “I’m not sure exactly why we’re seeing this happen,” she said. “But most of the laws are not as extreme as Alabama’s. Alabama seems to have gone further than any other state.”

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

I’m not sure exactly how Collins could not be sure exactly why this is happening, since Alabama legislators were explicit in stating that their intention was to give Kavanaugh and the other four conservative Supreme Court justices a clear-cut opportunity to reverse Roe.

Could it be that Collins is stupid? Or lying?

A couple of days later, the senator attempted to clarify her comments. She told a liberal blog she was “very concerned” about the abortion ban, but then added, “I cannot imagine that any court is going to uphold the constitutionality of the Alabama law.”

Her old pal Kavanaugh isn’t going to let her down. Or maybe Chief Justice John Roberts will save her butt. Or Justice Clarence Thomas could have a brain fart on the bench and vote the wrong way.

No matter what happens, it’s clear Collins is as big a liar as ever. She’s just nowhere near as adept as she once was at twisting the truth.

Concoct your own whoppers and email them to aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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