Carrying water for Trump
President Trump has been in office 11-plus weeks, and tanker loads of ink have been spilled over Trump, Bannon, Kushner, Ivanka, the perpetually hapless Sean Spicer, and even Mike Pence — remember him? But one person hasn't received her fair share of ink or credit for the relatively small but key role she has played in advancing Trump's agenda, and that person is Maine's senior senator, Susan Collins.
On a policy level, Trump's first 11 weeks have been a disaster, but the administration is undefeated in Senate confirmations, despite some highly questionable picks. Now Trump and the GOP have engineered the Supreme Court confirmation of a man whose record on labor would make Josef Mengele blush. And few have done as much as Susan Collins to grease the rails of this train wreck. She is truly an unsung heroine of the first 11 weeks of the Trump revolution.
In January I wrote that Collins had done a great disservice to women and blacks by officially introducing to her Senate colleagues attorney general nominee, now attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a demonstrable racist who has consistently voted against the interests of women.
And now with her relatively small yet important role in the Gorsuch confirmation, Collins has also sold workers down the river. Let's hope there's a little breather before the GOP introduces any legislation affecting children.
As a circuit court judge, Neil Gorsuch ruled to uphold the firing of a truck driver for abandoning his rig when staying with the rig might very easily have resulted in his freezing to death — and the trucker returned to his rig as soon as it was safe for him to do so. Six other judges ruled for the trucker, but not Gorsuch, the lone dissenting judge in the case.
Check out the YouTube Senate confirmation hearing video of Gorsuch telling Sen. Al Franken he has nothing but the utmost sympathy for the trucker he would consign to hypothermia. That audacity left even Gorsuch himself speechless. He sits there grinning, knowing he has the votes and not caring what some Minnesota senator thinks.
It would seem that saving a few bucks for a big trucking company is more important to Gorsuch than the life of a truck driver.
As such, Gorsuch is unfit to be a judge in any court that holds sway over human lives. If Gorsuch would condemn a man to death by hypothermia for the sake of truck cargo, he has no business presiding over traffic court let alone the Supreme Court. And with Gorsuch weighing in at 49 years of age, we could be stuck with this corporate hangman for 30 years or more.
As the GOP's official voice of moderation, Collins greased the skids of the Gorsuch nomination by putting the official imprimatur of moderation on the junking of filibusters for Supreme Court nominations. And to bolster her moderate bona fides, newspaper readers are reminded that last year Collins asked politely whether her Republican party might possibly do its constitutional duty and hold hearings on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
One can practically hear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guffawing after finishing that phone call: Some senator from Maine is concerned about excessive partisanship. How quaint. Where is Maine, anyway, and where the hell is my coffee?
After the Gorsuch confirmation vote, McConnell was seen high-fiving his senatorial co-conspirators, and you can bet McConnell wasn't simply high-fiving that day's vote — he was giddily celebrating a complete, unadulterated palace coup that started last year with his successfully blocking Merrick Garland. McConnell had defied the Constitution itself and had gotten away with it. That's definitely worth a high-five, and few did as much as Susan Collins to make it all possible.
It is precisely because of Collins' alleged moderate credentials that she is employed to carry water for Trump's racist, sexist, anti-worker agenda. She's either on board with that agenda or she's being played like a fiddle. Those are the only possibilities — there are no other possibilities.
Does Collins believe that the extremely ideological Trump administration didn't talk with Gorsuch about its fervent wish and desire to, in Grover Norquist's infamous words, shrink government to a size that it can be drowned in a bathtub? And does she think Trump would nominate Gorsuch if he weren't OK with that? Either Collins knows this or she is seriously asleep at the wheel. Again, there is no other possibility.
Rumor has it Collins may run for governor. But whether she runs for governor, a fifth Senate term, or dogcatcher, if Trump succeeds in laying waste to government as we know it, if he succeeds in eviscerating Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Obamacare and the environment, with the help of a supine Supreme Court, Susan Collins will no doubt say she had no idea that was the program or that she tried to apply some sort of brakes to the wanton attack on health care, the elderly, and clean air and water that is headed our way. Rubbish.
Cut this column out of your paper and mail it to Collins at 413 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510. Or fax it to her at: 202-224-2693. Or cut, paste and email it to her from collins.senate.gov/contact. Susan Collins might never stop carrying water for this shady, racist, sexist, xenophobic, incompetent, hyper-corporate, government-destroying administration. She may never wake up, smell the coffee and reject what fully 65 percent of Americans are already rejecting. But at least she'll know someone's watching.
Lawrence Reichard is a first-place Maine Press Association winner, freelance writer and activist living in Belfast.