Oct 15 2009

I Salute You Senator Snowe

Published by at 8:05 am under All General Discussions

Major Update Below

Alternative Title: Rise of The Petulant Partisans

Senator Olympia Snowe has risen to the challenge of being a political leader for the people in her efforts to remain in the fight over  which health care reform options could become law. Unlike those who went the petulant partisan route and took their marbles home, Snowe’s vote in the Finance Committee kept one lone Republican in the battle, able to ally with Democrat centrists who are the best hope for thwarting government rationed health care from destroying our premier health care system.

First, a very important fact that mutes the hysteria from the right: the bill was going to pass. Democrats have the votes to pass whatever they want. The only thing stopping them from destroying our health care is the fact many democrats don’t support the ‘public option’, where government accountants dole out treatment to those deemed worthy (using our hard earned money no less). So Snowe’s vote did nothing to the outcome. It does give her a huge media stage – which she has been using quite well:

Snowe made it clear after Tuesday’s vote that her position could change.

“So there should be no mistake, my vote today is my vote today. And it in no way forecasts my vote in the future,” she said during Tuesday’s Finance Committee deliberations.

Snowe said she doesn’t support a public option or a government-run insurance program because it would give government a disproportionate advantage over private insurers.

But Snowe said she would support a government plan that could be imposed if insurance companies did not make their plans more affordable.

But it probably won’t be the last time she breaks ranks with her own party. Snowe said she has done it before and the reason is simple: She always tries to make sure that her constituents’ needs are being met.

“That’s what motivates me every day. It’s my anchor,” Snowe said. “When I get up in the morning I don’t think about the committee. I think about, am I going to get this right.”

Remember, the American people are fed up with zero-sum games. Petulance is out. Results are being demanded. The GOP got tossed for not producing instead of being petulant (and rude to others). It is easy to sit back and pretend not doing anything in the process washes your hands of the result. But the fact is doing nothing is a crime of omission and dereliction.

Snowe can now give some backbone to those moderate Democrats (and independents in the case of Lieberman) who want to keep the government rationed health care option out of any final bill. These Democrats are under incredible pressure – Snowe gives them cover. More importantly, she will be checked in with regularly by the news media. She can reiterate the serious problems with the public option.

And if need be, she can orchestrate a emotional and riveting change of heart in opposition to any future bill that goes too far – staining the Democrats with the bad bill, instead of staining herself with the image of taking her marbles home because she couldn’t dictate terms.

She holds a lot of political clout right now.

But to succeed as best she can she needs support, not insults from the petulant ones who took their marbles home. In classic far-right screw up fashion, the lone defender of making sure the Democrats don’t destroy our health care is being pilloried for not doing the dumbest thing of all by walking out of the debate pouting. I understand many people cannot abide the nonsense the Finance Committee put out, but it is the least offensive of the bills and the one place Democrats really fractured. What we don’t need to do is undercut the last line of defense.

The bill coming out of the committee was inevitable. Now we have (or had) a champion on the right who is opposed to government rationed health care, but who has also made it crystal clear to the insurance industry they need to make care affordable and accessible (e.g., control costs, remove barriers like pre-existing conditions). She can push a centrist coalition to support measured reform, she can keep the insurance companies honest and she can shore up the centrist democrats against the pressure from the liberals to cave in on the public option.

Snowe lives to fight another day, you cannot say that of the petulant ones. She deserves a salute, not derision.

I don’t like any of this (doubt that? go here and start reading). And Snowe may be willing to accept some things I do not support (like I was going to get my way?). But I can recognize a smart political move verses a dumb one. We need to remember most Americans think health care needs some fixing.

Look at the data in a recent Pew Poll, you will see Americans do not think the system is so broken in needs radical change. Look at these numbers and you see two important stories (click to enlarge)

Pew looks at those who think our health care is “best/above average” and only sees that 39% admire our system while 59% says it is “average/below average”. It is one reasonable conclusion to draw from the data: Americans are not cheering the current system.

But if you look at the number who think it is seriously broke enough to warrant a risky government take over scheme you would have to conclude there is no ground swell there either. Pew doesn’t ask the question (or maybe they don’t want to see the answer), but to insist on a wild take over scheme would pretty much put you in the ‘below average’ category. I don’t think everyone in that category is fighting for government rationed care, but even if they did they only tally 27% – leaving 70% in potential opposition.

Snowe, and the centrist Dems who oppose a government rationed health care option, have the numbers on their side to thwart this insanity. And right now that is priority one in this battle.

Senator Snowe is taking the hard road for the right reasons. If we had more like her in Congress we would get better results. Not more partisan results, but results focused on what is a reasonable consensus space comfortable for most Americans. And that is what democracies are about. That is what petulant partisans keep forgetting. It is not about dictating to others, it is about finding common ground and giving up some goals in order to move to the common ground. The partisans are welcome at the table, but they don’t get tell everyone else what to do or how to do it.

Major Update: As I expected, Snowe’s move stiffened the spine of the centrist Democrats (while the naive and biased news media expected her vote to move the republicans??):

Senate Democrats took their newfound momentum for health reform into closed-door talks with White House aides Wednesday but still faced a months-old problem: centrist Democrats who aren’t sold on Obama-style reform even now.

If Democratic leadership hoped Republican Olympia Snowe’s decision to cross party lines Tuesday would inspire her fellow middle-of-the-roaders, they were mistaken.

Moderate Democrats did draw plenty of inspiration from Snowe – but instead of using her “yes” vote as a reason to embrace health care reform, fence-sitters hailed the caveats in her public statement Tuesday as a rationale for withholding their own judgment.

No, the only ones ‘mistaken’ are the liberals pushing for government rationed health care. They did not get the message in 1993 and are not getting it now. No one wants Post Office class health care at a higher cost than now, with lesser care than now. Hello!

30 responses so far

30 Responses to “I Salute You Senator Snowe”

  1. stevevvs says:

    More crazy old fool quotes:

    “The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.”
    — Thomas Jefferson

    “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
    –Thomas Jefferson

    “the true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best . . . (for) when all government . . . shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as . . . oppressive as the government from which we separated.”
    –Thomas Jefferson

  2. BarbaraS says:


    Your post sounds like a wish in rosyland. The idea that her vote for this bill will bolser the blue dogs oposition for this bill is nuts. How can Snowe’s vote for this bill put backbone into the blue dogs’ fight against it? I would think the opposite would be true. The dems will use her vote to put pressure on the blue dogs. A lot more pressure than they are already putting. And gone is the fact that this is a partisan bill. The dems no long own it exclusively. She has given her fellow republicans the shaft again.

    She and Collins and Specter are the only republicans who voted for the stimulus. All the other republicans stood fast to let the dems own the stimulus but not these three. We know now that Specter had been bought and these women are known for “reaching across the aisle”. Even McCain, famous for that tactic, voted against that dreck but not those two. The truth is that all three are dems at heart and will vote with them when the chips are down. This is not a good thing for republicans. It is just another knife in the back.

    These people have all been office too long. They are too co-operative with each other. They vote for each others’ bill in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mode. I, for one, am sick of it. I have noticed that all this co-operativeness is a one way street and the republicans never get a clue. Dems have given the republicans the shaft too many times to note. All because the republicans don’t look beneath the surface of doms’ motives.

  3. ama055131 says:

    I know this is a little off topic, but AJ your insight on New Jerseys Gov. race looks to be spot on according to Rasmussen’s latest article and polling.

  4. AJStrata says:

    Barbara S,

    If you did not read the update then you did not realize it is already happening.

    Snowe is having an effect – on the centrist dems who need her for cover come 2010.

  5. Frogg1 says:

    I don’t agree with AJ’s take on this. However, there are some interesting articles out there:


    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on, but did not outright deny, the idea that Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has more influence in the health care debate than the Speaker does.


    Sen Wyden, D-Ore, vote was also a surprise

    While Wyden, D-Ore., ultimately joined Snowe and all the committee’s Democrats in voting yes, he — like Snowe — is serving notice that he may not support the final product.

  6. kathie says:

    Obama is delighted. This is what he said today.

    Obama: Firms nervous that health reform may pass
    Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:20pm EDT

    NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that the drop in the health insurance stocks this week was a sign the industry has become nervous that a healthcare reform bill may pass.

    “This is when the insurance companies are really going to start gearing up,” Obama told a town-hall event in New Orleans. “Their stock went down when the Senate Finance Committee voted out that bill. Now they’re getting nervous and, by they way, they have been wildly profitable over the last decade

  7. Mark says:

    This concept of government control of our health care system is so flawed that after reasonable alternatives to it have been proposed and summarily dismissed by the Democrats in power then I see no reason to continue to “Dance with the Devil” on the issue. State you opinion, be sure that your alternatives are well publicized and justified, and then let the Democrats wallow in their own demise. As you accurately point out, they do not need any Republican votes on this to pass anything they wish. Conservatives and Moderates should not allow their integrity to be smeared by supporting this farce.

    Based on what I know of Snowe and her track record there is no reason to believe that she is doing anything but trying to remove a burden from the back of her home state by creating the same burden on a national scale. Thanks but no thanks. Novel idea…how about pointedly explaining it’s failures and illustrate the conservative points that this will not be successful on a national scale, and then work to get this fiscal cancer eradicated from Maine rather than afflicting the rest of with it Ms. Snowe?

    Possibly this is politically naive but I am having trouble making the connection between Snowe giving a waffled, conflicted “yes” vote and a sudden boost of the resolve of “Blue Dog” Democrats. It is not as though her words carry certainty for them to cling to, nor support for their positions, and if they are that weak in their own convictions possibly there is a spine store somewhere in the Washington DC vicinity.

    The agenda that the Democrats are exposing is the heath care equivalent of Cap & Trade to eradicate “Global Warming”. It is the Progressive fantasy of wresting control of a massive percentage of the US economy to attempt to reshape it in their flawed view.
    A powerful conservative, principled, and intelligently explained NO is in order.

    Our nation was founded on independent, sound principals. It is not sustainable by accommodating policy and legislation that financially cripples it, and is in conflict with the spirit of our Constitution.

  8. owl says:

    Nope, agree more with Mark’s……

    “Based on what I know of Snowe and her track record there is no reason to believe that she is doing anything but trying to remove a burden from the back of her home state by creating the same burden on a national scale”.

    I read she rates a 12% which is not much. Plus, it just plain makes me see red. I usually just try to keep my mouth shut on some of these critters because I like a big tent, unlike the far right. That doesn’t keep me from seeing red.

    I ask all the time where our elected Voices are hiding. I see Dims. I hear Dims. Wined, Dined, Bought & Paid for.

  9. Frogg1 says:

    An excellent article for all to consider:

    Did “history” elect Olympia Snowe?

  10. […] As I noted when Sen Snowe allowed the health care bill in the Senate Finance Committee to pass they centrists now control the path of the health care debate, and they are rising up in opposition to government rationed health care (a.k.a., the “public option”). And not just any centrists but one who makes liberals see red: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP attempt to block the bill from moving to final passage. […]