There's a short list of politicians who could make Joe Lieberman look like a hero. The perpetually “very troubled" Susan Collins is one of them. Politico writer Michael Grunwald was feeling nostalgic while social distancing and recalled on Twitter that the Maine senator had declared funding for pandemic flu preparation a “non starter" during the debate over Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus package. Collins's likely Democratic opponent, Sara Gideon, should feel free to classify this as an “in-kind" donation to her Senate campaign.


The 2009 stimulus package was intended to help turn around the economy after George W. Bush and other people we should've never trusted again tanked it. Republicans were torn between not wanting to help Obama succeed and wanting to make sure he failed.

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was the Democratic Party's nominee for vice president in 2000 (presumably no other Democrats wanted this job). He endorsed John McCain for president in 2008 and might've been the Republican nominee for vice president but McCain instead went with the lady who now sings “Baby Got Back" in a pink bear suit. He was the ideal “moderate" Democrat to help navigate the stimulus package through treacherous Republican waters.

Democrats were in the majority (though not a filibuster-proof supermajority, which only lasted four months) at the time, so that's why they needed the votes of supposed “reasonable" Republicans like Collins, actual moderate Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter, who defected to the Democrats in 2010. This group "hashed out about $110 billion in cuts, about half in education," because who needs book learning? Collins sucked so bad she even insisted on axing the entire $16 billion set aside from school construction, which was a big deal for Obama because he's the kind of Kenyan socialist who wants to see children educated in buildings. Lieberman reportedly tried to negotiate a compromise because that's what moderate Democrats do. Collins is the type of Republican who only pretends she's a moderate, so she didn't budge.

LIEBERMAN: Look, she wasn't going for it, so what could we do?

C'mon, Suzy Creamcheese, you can't spare a couple billion for schools? She also worked to kill $80 billion in state education aid. Nine years later, Collins would have no problem loosening the federal purse strings for the Republican tax scam giveaway to billionaires. But, kids, man, fuck them.

Obama had enough foresight to include pandemic flu preparation in the stimulus package. Collins scoffed. She was as willing to go for that as Hall & Oates. Lieberman -- yes, Joe Lieberman -- did persuade Collins to shift the budgeted $870 million to community health clinics instead of just killing it altogether.

LIEBERMAN: I hope they have that on my list of good deeds when I get to the gates of heaven.

Sure, Joe, you'll get a few points for this, along with trying to make “Joementum" happen. However, you also killed the public option, which cost a lot of poor people health care, so you can also go to hell with Collins. Everyone goes to hell!

We won't make any statements about Specter's final celestial destination. He's dead and that's rude, but he was the one who demanded the economic stimulus come in under $800 billion, for #reasons. But he did want $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, because he believed medical research was underfunded. If Specter were alive and running for re-election in Maine like some people, he could talk that up and maybe voters would forgive major cuts to preparations for the next apocalypse. Unfortunately, Collins just has her votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh and acquit Donald Trump.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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