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October 13th, 2009 4:36 pm
Snowe Job

From the chatter on the Internet and in the newsrooms you’d think Maine Senator Olympia Snowe’s vote in favor of the Baucus health care “reform” bill out of committee is newsworthy. According to the Associated Press, Snowe’s “Yes” turns a starkly divided blue-red, 13-10 vote into a 14-9 “bi-partisan” shocker. To wit:

But Snowe’s decision gave the vote a significance that transcends partisan divisions. For months, congressional Republicans have been virtually unanimous in denouncing the Democratic bills as an unwarranted expansion of government influence.”

So, even though “for months” congressional Republicans have been “virtually unanimous” in criticizing Democrats’ plans to overhaul American health care, one Senate Republican voting “aye,” constitutes a landmark in bi-partisanship?  Hardly.  Even Snowe acknowledges that she’s only voting for this version of the health care bill, and remains undecided about the inevitable modified version(s) still to be written. 

The real story here is how Snowe managed to dominate an event that would have had exactly the same effect had she been fly fishing today. Snowe’s vote isn’t about switching sides in a policy debate, or answering history’s call. It’s about solidifying her standing as a moderate to be negotiated with when Democrats need Republican cover for passing liberal legislation. Although Baucus failed to get a true bi-partisan bill out his committee, he did succeed in snaring a token R. One hopes an enterprising reporter at one of the Washington dailies will keep a close eye on the next few Appropriations bills to see how much Maine just benefited from its Senator selling her (qualified) support.

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