Susan Collins sinks in

Susan Collins apparently believes Donald Trump should be the leader of the free world.

Let that sink in for a minute. Maine’s senior United States senator seems to believe an obnoxious real-estate developer and reality-television-show star who’s never held elected office should hold the highest office in the land; that Donald Trump should be America’s representative to the rest of the world, the man who speaks for us in sensitive diplomatic discussions with other world leaders. She apparently thinks Donald Trump should be the commander in chief of our armed forces and wants to give him the power to wage war, including the ability, should President Trump consider it prudent, to launch nuclear weapons that can destroy civilizations.

Susan Collins is willing to give Donald Trump veto authority over laws passed by Congress and the power to determine the membership of the Supreme Court for generations to come. She seems to think Donald Trump should be negotiating trade agreements and signing treaties (or ripping them up).

In remarks made earlier this month, after it became clear that Trump will be the Republican candidate for the presidency, Collins said Trump “has some ideas that are worth pursuing, and he needs to articulate them,” according to Jessica Lowell of the Kennebec Journal. It’s not clear what worthy ideas Collins was referring to, but most of Trump’s ideas aren’t clear anyway.

The few substantive policy pronouncements Trump has made — like building a wall along the Mexican border and banning all Muslims from entering the country — are either absurd, racist or both. Collins has not denounced Trump’s patently hateful and un-American proposals. Her silence amounts to a de facto endorsement of them.

Sen. Susan Collins meets with Merrick Garland, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, in April. Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Sen. Susan Collins meets with Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, in April. Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Collins’ criticism of Trump is limited to his rhetoric, not the substance of his ugly ideas. “He has to knock off the gratuitous personal insults,” Collins said, as if the threats Trump poses are limited to the words he uses, rather than the deeds he advocates. That’s tantamount to saying it’s OK to build the border wall, just don’t justify it by saying Mexican immigrants are “rapists” — at least not in public.

Some political pundits and members of the press have included Collins’ name on their lists of potential Trump running mates. Collins said it was “flattering to be mentioned.”

Flattered. Let that one sink in, as well.

While Collins has yet to give Trump her full endorsement, it’s disgusting to watch her figuratively playing footsie with this racist demagogue. Is this the conduct of a “moderate” lawmaker? The sad fact is that the Republican Party has gone so far off the right-wing deep end that merely voting not to shut down the government (as Collins kinda did a couple years ago) or being willing to meet with a Supreme Court nominee (as she actually did earlier this spring, in contravention to the wishes of party leaders) is supposedly enough to make a senator appear reasonable. It ain’t.

As for Collins’ “bipartisan” bona fides, that’s bunk too. By her own admission, Collins “worked well together in the Senate” with Hillary Clinton and has never met Trump, but based on what she’s seen and heard of Trump, she believes he’d be a better president than her former colleague, the former first lady, senator and secretary of state.

The only possible explanation for that ridiculous position is partisanship. Mark Holbrook, one of two Republicans hoping to challenge Congresswoman Chellie Pingree this fall, explained his support of Trump by saying, “regardless of who the nominee is, [Republicans] have to support anyone with an R behind their name.” That’s one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever read, but Holbrook gets a point for honesty.

Collins gets no points for anything she’s done in recent memory. She’s an ineffectual member of the party in control of one of the most dysfunctional legislative bodies in history. Her advocacy on behalf of, say, seniors who’ve been scammed into being international drug smugglers is the very least we can expect from someone in her position, not a shining example of political heroism.

Denouncing the racist and ridiculous policies of a fellow politician also seems like the least a reasonable, moderate lawmaker could do. But Collins hasn’t done that. Instead, she’s flattered by the suggestion she could be chosen to help such a politician implement his hateful, absurdist agenda.

Soon there’ll be no more space to allow Collins’ extreme partisanship to sink in. She’s fast approaching rock bottom.

Chris Busby

About Chris Busby

Chris Busby is editor and publisher of The Bollard, a monthly magazine about Portland. He writes a weekly column for the BDN.