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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Do Republicans really want a "Maverick?"




It seemed liked a good selling point during the last election. Bush's approval numbers were so low the only chance McCain/Palin had was to distance themselves from what they perceived as the standard Republican way. Of course, neither McCain nor Palin were doing anything that actually distanced themselves from Bush in any radical way. Even the phrase "Going Rouge" which Palin is now using as the title of her upcoming book, was not really describing any political differences between Palin and her party, but rather her inability/refusal to work within the confines McCain's campaign managers wanted her to. The strategy obviously didn't pay off for either of them, unless of course Palin's plan all along was to ride her newfound popularity out of politics and into her current job of punditry.


Sure, the idea of someone not walking lockstep with their party line is a nice idea and both parties love to tout they're the ones who do it. However, reaction to the yesterday's senate finance committee vote suggests Republicans are not really looking for someone like that. Meet Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. If you haven't heard about her, you will very soon. Snowe has been gaining media attention for a few months now, but as of yesterday she is in the center of the spotlight because she was the only Republican to vote in favor of the health care bill in committee yesterday.  This vote doesn't put the health care bill into effect, it just gets it out of committee, which Snowe said was the major reason she voted for it.  Snowe said after the vote that she does not like many things in the current form of the bill but believes the people want action. In essence, she said her "yes" vote was intended to move the bill into the next stage of the process so more things can be worked out. Hardly a huge vote of confidence for Obama, but nevertheless, the backlash came quickly against Snowe from a party claiming it doesn't walk in lockstep. She's a RINO (Republican in Name Only), she's a traitor, she needs to be removed from office immediately. These are some of the more kindly-worded attacks aimed at Snowe to appear on conservative websites in the last 24 hours.


That being said, Snowe's vote should not have come as that big of a surprise to people. The American Conservative Union gives Snowe a lifetime rating of 49.12 for her voting history and The Washington Post rates her at 58 for the current congress.  Those numbers indicate the percentage of times Snowe has voted the same as her Republican colleages. In comparison, John McCain has a lifetime rating of 81.43 from the ACU and some people still weren't happy with the times he crossed the isle on issues.



Clearly one is more "mavericky" than the other, and since Snowe has held her Senate seat for 14 years it's strange that suddenly now her moderate stance is such a shocking problem for some. Despite the immediate and angry calls to push her out of office, such an outcome is unlikely. Snowe has kept her seat in a state that has leaned heavily in favor of Democrats for the last 20 years likey because she is a moderate and does not vote straight along party lines.

Let's be honest, this one vote does not make Snowe a radical champion of health care reform to democrats nor a two-faced traitor to her own party. She's a moderate Republican who would rather work within the system on a solution than stubbornly argue endlessly about ideology. If a maverick is someone who doesn't walk the party line then Snowe fits the definition much better than McCain or Palin, but it seems that's not what people want... at least not in the big picture. Now before anyone says I'm only harping on Republicans, the way Joe Lieberman was treated by Democrats during the 2008 election cycle shows they're not really looking for someone to step outside the lines either. However, they weren't the ones touting such a trait as their biggest strength while simultaneously attacking those who actually did it.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well done. I admire that Andrew points out that Democrats are flawed as well as Republicans. But this topic perfectly illustrates how politics have become more about who can win, rather than doing what is right and working together. But I realize there is nothing new in that statement. Ahhh, how to solve that problem?

Same old, tired games

October 14, 2009 at 4:24 PM 
Blogger Monkey said...

I appreciate Snowe voting the health care bill on to the next stage where more things can be worked out. It's such a shame that this senator is getting slammed with such disrespect by her party when it seems to me all she has done is keep the American people in mind when she votes. We can't change by staying the same and the health care issue in this country isn't going to fix itself. You've got to start somewhere.

October 14, 2009 at 5:28 PM 
Blogger Bruce Fealk said...

I think Sarah Palin gave the word maverick a bad name. I doubt anyone in politics is going to want to be referred with that title ever again, even John McCain.

Olympia Snowe is no maverick, by any definition of that word. She may be one of the rare Republicans that actually has a conscience, though.

October 15, 2009 at 12:18 PM 

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