I’m actually happy that he’s back:
While I do miss Franken in the Senate, (no offense U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D. MN), who is also a terrific Senator), it’s great to see him cut loose and be funny again. Check out his interview on Jimmy Kimmel:
It’s doubtful that Collins, who faces a tough re-election this year, is simply naive and easily duped after serving in the Senate for more than two decades. What’s more likely is that she is deliberately acting as a useful idiot for Republicans—maintaining the illusion of moderacy that she needs to win in her purple home state, while giving her party the political cover to say, “Look, Trump’s behavior was so mild that even moderates are acquitting him.” Arguably, that makes her more craven than Mitch McConnell, who openly power grabs without any semblance of moral scruples and embraces his role as cartoon villain.
Collins has done this before. She pretended for months to be genuinely undecided about confirming Brett Kavanaugh, who has openly opposed abortion rights, to the Supreme Court, because she has long claimed to be “pro-choice.” “Until I’ve had that opportunity to question the judge personally on a lot of important issues and then to observe his hearing, I will refrain from making a decision,” she said in August. One of her staffers told me that same month that Collins had already consulted with Trump before he nominated Brett Kavanaugh and assured him that Kavanaugh was a judge she could greenlight. Her press secretary denied this in a statement. But the way the confirmation played out seemed to confirm my reporting: Collins said, after personally interviewing Kavanaugh, she felt convinced that he would uphold Roe v. Wade, despite many indications in his past that he would not, such as praising former Associate Justice William Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute. And she voted to confirm him, even after a sexual assault allegation that Collins herself described as “sincere, painful, and compelling” further complicated his candidacy.
Sometimes Collins will appear to throw Democrats a bone in the interest of maintaining her reputation as a maverick. Last week, moments after it became clear that her vote would not matter, she came out in support of allowing witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial. And she is the queen of saying she is “disappointed” and “disturbed” and “concerned” at some of Trump’s more egregious behaviors without ever saying how she’ll vote on a particular matter. CNN correspondent Manu Raj reported that she “almost dropped her handbag as she gestured disbelief” when reporters informed her in late 2018 that Trump had threatened to shut down the government if he couldn’t get money for his border wall. Moves like this, however laughable, always have their intended effect, as esteemed outlets like the New York Times continue to describe her as a “moderate.”
Meanwhile, she has delivered victory after victory for the Republican Party and for the most right-wing, corrupt president in United States history. The Supreme Court, now stacked with anti-abortion conservatives thanks in no smart part to Collins’s vote, agreed this year to review a Louisiana abortion restriction that was struck down by a lower court. The law, which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital despite no medical necessity for that, is basically identical to the one the high court struck down in 2016, which suggests the court is only taking the same case in order to decide it differently with a conservative majority.
Luckily for us, Collins has a strong opponent in Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D. ME) who has been hammering Collins for acquitting Trump:
Ã¢ÂÂ Sara Gideon (@SaraGideon) February 5, 2020
Ã¢ÂÂ Sara Gideon (@SaraGideon) February 6, 2020