A recent attack, launched by a disreputable leftist attack group run by former Republican operatives, targeted Maine Senator Susan Collins. It labeled her a "Trump stooge," called her a "fraud" of an independent, and asserted that she's "controlled" by the president and Mitch McConnell. This organization supposedly began as a "Never Trump" project, but has morphed into a "Never Republican" outfit aiming to help ensure total Democratic control of government. In no way, shape, or form is it functionally "conservative," as many in the media insist on labeling it. It's a Democratic group, promoting Democratic candidates, in order to install Democratic majorities who will pursue and implement a Democratic policy agenda.
They give away the game by lobbing such ridiculous broadsides at Collins, who is literally the most bipartisan senator -- first place out of 100 -- in the entire upper chamber. To the occasional chagrin of many conservatives, myself included, Collins is a moderate with an independent voting record. The Left is disingenuously seeking to cast her as a lockstep, unthinking Republican partisan -- even as they push an actual lockstep partisan to replace her. Two of the recent flashpoints that have galvanized their opposition were Collins' thoughtful and righteous vote in favor of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, and her votes to acquit President Trump on articles of impeachment earlier this year. Both decisions underscore her consistency. Not only has she voted to confirm every Supreme Court nominee put to a floor vote during her decades-long career (including unambiguously liberal justices nominated by a Democratic president) her overall record on judicial confirmations has been remarkably steady:
Overall, Collins has voted yes on 96 percent of nominees who have gone to a roll call, and she has rejected 25, or 4 percent... President George W. Bush gain[ed] her approval 99 percent of the time and President Trump, through December, 95 percent of the time...Collins supported 98 percent of Clinton nominees made during her time in office and 94 percent of Obama nominees...To date, she has supported every Supreme Court nominee who has gone to a vote – a total of six during her tenure. In 2016, she was among a minority of GOP senators who agreed to meet with Obama pick Merrick Garland, saying it was “not fair and not right” for colleagues to refuse to give consideration to Garland. During the Gorsuch nomination, Collins also pleaded with Democrats to not filibuster, saying on the Senate floor that to do so would be a “serious mistake.”
I disagreed with a number of her aforementioned votes and stances (I would have supported some of the conservative nominees she opposed, voted against some of the liberal nominees she green-lit, and think she was wrong on the Garland standoff). To call her a "Trump stooge" is profoundly dishonest. What about her impeachment acquittal choice? One can surely debate it on the merits, but she came to the exact same conclusion when a president from the opposite party faced a Senate trial for his alleged crimes. Collins was among a small handful of Republicans to render a double-acquittal verdict, as she did with Trump years later.
Her critics also mock her for not sufficiently "standing up" to Trump's bad behavior, ridiculing her various statements of concern as weak and feckless. But the fact is that she did not vote for the president in 2016 and has routinely articulated disappointments and disagreements with the leader of her own party. Those who make a big show of demanding more from her should be more honest: What they truly want is a reliable Democrat in office, not a moderate or independent. I interviewed Collins on my radio program last evening, and when I raised the issue of the "stooge/fraud/controlled" attacks, she was loaded for bear:
?? @SenatorCollins absolutely *slams* recent left-wing attacks that have labeled her a “Trump stooge,” called her a “fraud” of an independent & even claimed she’s ‘controlled’ by men:— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) August 6, 2020
“False...sexist...absurd...insulting.” @GuyBensonShow pic.twitter.com/IdwIGVPAHy
She also ripped into Chuck Schumer and warned against the wages of unified Democratic control:
I haven't changed, despite the attempts of my opponent to say that I have. And the irony is that she is a down the line -- adherent to whatever Chuck Schumer tells her to believe in. And this is really all about his quest for power. It's not that he wants to accomplish policy objectives. It's that he wants to be the majority leader of the Senate. And that's why he has poured more money into Maine than any other state, from his Super PAC, because he sees Maine as being pivotal... I've tried to stay out of presidential politics so that I can concentrate on my own race. But I'll tell you this. What I don't want to see is the House, the Senate, and the presidency all controlled by the Democrats. Because if that happens, we will see legislation rammed through the Senate because they'll do away with the filibuster rule, which helps to protect the rights of the minority and ensure that there's consensus on major bills. And it will change our country in fundamental ways. And that I do not want to see happen.
Protecting the filibuster is another subject on which Collins has been consistent, unlike certain Democrats (and some Republicans) who perform contortions based on the prevailing power dynamics and partisan expediency. Liberals and Democrats are welcome to argue that they want an ideological ally in office. But pretending to crave independence, while working to defeat one of the Senate's last independents, is a cynical ploy that requires advancing the inaccurate claim that Collins has somehow changed. She hasn't. And twisting reality to take down even the most moderate of Republicans is not an action of a credible, right-leaning "coalition of the decent;" it's an action taken by a committed Democratic organization. The audio and transcript of my full interview with the senator are available here.