Olympia Snowe is doomed.
Well, maybe not entirely doomed, but kinda doomed.
She might survive her 2012 campaign for re-election to a fourth term in the US Senate, but not without serious damage. Or, at least, minor distress. Or, possibly, annoying distractions she can direct her staff to handle. Or, as she sweeps to another landslide victory, maybe she won't even notice she's doomed.
But make no mistake, she is. I know this because I heard it from the wing of the Republican Party that's required by health inspectors to wear a label that reads, "Warning: contains nuts."
For instance: "Olympia Snowe takes being a politician seriously, but does not take being a Republican seriously," said a resolution passed October 17 by the Aroostook County Republican Committee. "Olympia Snowe has become a major obstacle to furtherance of the principles, platform and general good work of the Republican Party."
The committee then called on the senator to quit the GOP. Which would further the party's aforementioned "general good work" by reducing its numbers in the Senate, thereby making it even tougher to prevent the passage of any Democratic legislation, no matter how ill-conceived.
That'll show her.
Snowe drew the wrath of her party's mentally unstable contingent when she was rated last year by the National Journal as the 50th most liberal senator. Clearly, she'd lost touch. With whackjobs. Then, she had the audacity to support the Obama administration's stimulus package and the Baucus healthcare bill. That she used her vote to shift both measures in a more conservative direction is the sort of subtle distinction generally overlooked by those convinced the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 actually foretells the conclusion of Snowe's political career.
They might be right. The senator hasn't said whether she'll seek another term. She could figure it's time to enjoy the end of the world as a private citizen, who doesn't have to pay attention to the thoughtful critiques of her performance that turn up in the kookier corners of the blogosphere.
Snowe is a "traitor," according a poster on the Free Republic blog. Another called her "the worst ever Senator."
"She needs to move on and let someone else represent Maine," a contributor to As Maine Goes wrote. "She has done her damage, it is time for her to leave the stage."
On the Weasel Zippers site, she was characterized as "a complete weasel," "a sniveling sycophant," and "a RINO in sheep's (Dem) clothing."
This blather has reactionary elements doing what they do best: reacting.
"Well, of course there is an audience that would love to see Olympia Snowe out of office, within the ranks of social conservatives, that's for certain," Connie Mackey of the Family Research Council told the Talking Points Memo Web site. "And we would like to see a conservative have a chance to remove her from office up there."
All it'll take to make that happen is a candidate with name recognition, political smarts, and a message that resonates with voters "up there," who tend to prefer their senators on the moderate side.
I have just the person: Susan Collins.
Consider that Collins has never voted for the Dems' healthcare bill, and the National Journal said she was a whole position less liberal than Snowe (51st). Think of the savings in salary and benefits if Maine had one person fill both its Senate seats.