Snowed Under By Praise

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 15, 2009; 9:31 AM

Saint Olympia is getting the full media treatment.

By providing the only Republican vote for Obamacare, she is being hailed as a courageous statesman (stateswoman?). Charlie Gibson interviewed her live on "World News." She made the morning TV rounds, mapped strategy in the Situation Room, played Hardball. Dana Milbank's tribute to her political skill (and gibes at her studied indecision) landed atop The Washington Post's front page.

Check out this AP piece: "Forget Sarah Palin. The female maverick of the Republican Party is Sen. Olympia Snowe. . . . 'When history calls, history calls,' Snowe told her colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee, several hours into the debate."

I don't want to be too snarky here. Snowe is a diligent senator, she's not a grandstander, and she was clearly struggling to do what she sees as the right thing. But Republican defectors tend to get good press, especially, as in this case, if they're helping salvage a Democratic president's top domestic priority.

Imagine the coverage a Democratic senator would have gotten by breaking with his party to help George Bush pass his Social Security plan. No one hailed Joe Lieberman (yes, he's an independent, but he caucuses with the Dems) for turning against Obama on the Baucus bill.

Maybe it comes down to this: It seems like this health care debate has lasted longer than the Afghan war. Snowe may have brought the legislation one step closer to passing. I suspect most journalists want something to pass so it feels like we spent all that time on something momentous. If health reform goes down in flames, then we've expended all this energy on a mere footnote.

And besides, there aren't many flinty Yankees like Snowe left on the Hill.

Hot Air's Allahpundit takes issue with the AP report:

"They acknowledge that her Senate seat is entirely safe, in which case what's so 'mavericky' about casting a vote that (a) ensures a degree of input into the final bill that other Republicans can only envy and (b) earns her the sort of fawning media coverage of which this very piece is a sterling example?

"The Palin comparison is useful, though. If Sarahcuda had said something as comically insipid as 'When history calls, history calls,' Tina Fey would have an entire skit built around it on SNL this week. As it is, our moronic media's treating it as some sort of faux-profound rendezvous with destiny."

How angry are some on the right? Red State's Erick Erickson provides a clue:

"Olympia Snowe has sold out the country. . . . So we should melt her.

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