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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Snowe Announcement

Feb 29th, 2012

Mittens took Arizona and Michigan's GOP primaries, The President gave his most remarkable speech in a very long time, the DOW closed above 13,000... there's a lot of news to discuss today. However, what has everyone talking is the sudden and surprising retirement announcement by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Jezebel may have the headline of the year so far above Cassie Murdoch's reaction.

"Snowe may be a Republican, but she was known for being a rational, thinking-person's Republican, a rarity in these sad times. 

She was also pro-choice, and, really, she was one of the last of the moderate Republicans in the Senate. She was almost always willing, unlike most of her colleagues, to reach across the aisle and try to get things done for the good of the people, not the good of her political career."

Steve Kornacki writes:

"The charitable way to read this is that Snowe is tired of pretending to be more outraged by the Obama administration and Democrats in general than she actually is and that she’d rather retire than keep catering to the Tea Party. More realistically, she just honestly believes that D.C.’s current polarized condition is equally the fault of both parties. Again, if she really wanted to work across the aisle and with the White House more, she probably could have, because of the option of an independent reelection candidacy.

But even if she wasn’t particularly helpful to them these past few years, Snowe is doing Democrats a huge favor now. With Snowe in it, Democrats had virtually no chance of winning the Maine Senate race this year. Now they are likely to do so, given the state’s partisan bent."

Kleefeld rounds up the likely contenders for her seat HERE.

Steve Benen is stunned at the way this was handled:

"Snowe's retirement wasn't just a surprise; it's practically bizarre. After three terms in the Senate, and giving every indication of seeking re-election, Olympia Snowe waited until two weeks before Maine's filing deadline to bow out, and didn't even tell her staff until yesterday afternoon. It all happened so quickly, the senator's office hasn't even posted her announcement online yet.

The news doesn't appear to have been planned at all.

What's more, Snowe's statement is a little cryptic. Instead of the obligatory "spend more time with my family" rhetoric, the senator references "unique opportunities ... outside the United States Senate." What opportunities? She didn't say."

Amy Davidson is unimpressed with Snowe's stated rationale:

"...while it’s easy to join in a chorus about the awful partisanship, one also has to ask: Is it really true that there is nothing to fight for in Washington anymore? Judging from the last few months, the more a common consensus breaks down, the more even basic principles seem to be at risk. And there are moments—wars, health policies, collapsing debt ceilings—when a voice, even one that loses the argument, could make a difference. No doubt politics is enervating and awful. It’s still vital."

My take is that the many liberals and progressives who are somehow lamenting the departure of this "moderate" are buying a false narrative. She moved to the right substantially over the last several years in an attempt to stave off radical, Tea Party derision. The fact that the Republican party was moving to the fringe too quickly for her to catch up renders her comparative "reasonableness" something less than remarkable.

She was a leader last year in blocking the President's "jobs bill." She has marched in lock-step with her party's assault on rational revenue proposals. The fact that she is pro-choice is of little consequence outside the renewed culture war. After all, the real threats in the GOP's War on Women are occurring on the state level.

That her status as a "moderate" is regarded as something impressive is simply depressing. 

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