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I’m Susan Collins, and I approve this message

I think the president has learned a lot. That’s enough for me, and it should be for you, too. There’s no need for removal, or censure, or any of the unpleasantness that would require me to go against the wishes of the Senate leader and court political consequences here. Who do you think I am, Mitt Romney?

Senator Susan Collins sat on the Senate train at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Senator Susan Collins sat on the Senate train at the Capitol on Wednesday.Sarah Silbiger/Getty

I think the president has learned a lot from all of this, and that’s good enough for me.

There’s no need for removal, or censure, or any of the unpleasantness that would require me to go against the wishes of the Senate majority leader and court political consequences. I voted to hear from witnesses when it didn’t matter. What more do you want?

Who do you think I am, Mitt Romney?

“The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson,” is my explanation for refusing to hold him accountable for trying to cheat in the 2020 election. “I believe he will be much more cautious in the future.”

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And I really mean it. Everybody deserves a second chance, right? And as we all know, this is a president who truly learns from mistakes and mild public criticism. Just look at the evidence. After fact-checkers started logging Trump’s lies right after his inauguration, he’s only told another 16,000 or so more .

I watched the president really grow as a person after Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote a damning report outlining his appalling behavior yet declining to indict him on obstruction.

It’s true that the very day after Mueller testified before Congress, my president put the heat on the newly elected Ukrainian president in a phone call I called wrong and improper, threatening to withhold aid unless he agreed to investigate one of Trump’s 2020 political rivals.

To use the power of his office to cheat, in other words. But how is that relevant here?

Clearly, the president understands what he did is terribly, terribly wrong. It only looks like he hasn’t learned a single lesson in his 73 years, let alone in the last three, in which he has smashed every vestige of the decorum that is extremely important to me whenever I think Democrats violate it.

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Yes, within hours of my comments, reporters told Trump about my faith in him, asking if he really had learned his lesson. His reply: Nope. “It was a perfect call,” he said. And on Thursday he plans to “discuss our Country’s VICTORY in the Impeachment Hoax!”


If you think that makes me look silly, you’re not thinking hard enough. Only a fool would take at his word a man who has told more than 16,000 demonstrable lies. Deep down, the president and I both know the truth.

Anyways, this will all work out just fine for all of us. Except for Romney, who justified breaking ranks with an eloquent speech in which he said that a vote to acquit the president would “expose my character to history’s rebuke, and the censure of my own conscience.”

That made me and the other moderate senators look pretty awful, as if our have-it-both-ways arguments lacked not just logic, but integrity.

That is deeply unfair and possibly sexist. In addition to my reputation for centrism and attention-grabbing indecision, I pride myself upon my ability to sound reasonable while endorsing the worst excesses of my party.

You may recall the grace with which I threaded that needle during the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whom I voted to confirm even though I am a feminist and he was credibly accused of sexual assault by a psychology professor who had no incentive to lie.

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And what did I get for this heroic stand? Scorn. A group of my critics — possessed of the ridiculous notion that the judge would roll back abortion rights — tried to make me vote against Kavanaugh by pledging to donate millions to my 2020 opponent. I called that attempt to influence me what it is, a classic example of “a quid pro quo, as defined in our bribery laws.”

And I think we can agree, as the president surely does now, a quid pro quo is very bad, indeed.

Anyway, I’ll take my lumps. Like the president, I’m up for renewal this year, in an election in which the president will absolutely not be trying to cheat now that we’ve taught him such a valuable lesson by not holding him accountable for trying to cheat in it.

At least I can count on my home state’s Trumpkins to keep supporting me. I don’t like them much, or they me, but happily, there are a lot them. Whatever it takes.

I’m Susan Collins, and I approve this message.


Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham can be reached at yvonne.abraham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeAbraham.