Let’s talk about Susan Collins’s sex life.
Just kidding. Even though Collins, a Republican US senator seeking re-election in November, went on the radio recently and talked about John Edwards’s extramarital relationship, she knows she’ll never have to face similar scrutiny of her own affairs. Assuming, of course, that she has any affairs to scrutinize. If we rely on her media exposure to assess her sensual side, we can only conclude she’s been celibate since birth.
Perhaps that lack of close coverage is the result of an obscure Maine law that expressly forbids any discussion by the news media of elected officials’ carnal instincts, libidinous thoughts, and bodily appetites. Unless some bold, investigative, journalistic outlet, such as the National Enquirer, decided to open an office here (do you think the Baldacci administration would offer a tax break?), there’d be no legal way to publish photos of our junior senator skipping naked through the blueberry barrens with a slightly-out-of-focus figure, who could be anybody from developer Michael Liberty to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to SpongeBob SquarePants.
Unless it gets posted on YouTube.
But, as I said, this column is not about Susan Collins’s sex life. Or — thank the gods of licentiousness — that of her Democratic opponent, US Representative Tom Allen. The voting public is not clamoring for those sorts of personal revelations. Unless the other person involved is really hot.
What this column is about is the Important Issues in the Senate election.
Like, um ...
Hey, was that 1st Congressional District Democratic candidate Chellie Pingree holding hands with hedge-fund manager and mega-contributor S. Donald Sussman?
Sorry. Got distracted. Back to the Important Issues.
Of which, there seem to be two: 1) whether Allen is a tool of the Mafia and its affiliated unions, who have ordered him to crush the resistance of workers opposed to corrupt labor bosses, and 2) whether Allen is owned and operated by this country’s foreign foes, who plan to employ him to weaken the United States militarily and morally.
Hmmm. I wonder where the rumor that Collins is dictating the agenda in this race got started.
Obviously, both these claims can’t be true. There’s no way Iran and the Teamsters would be willing to share control of Allen. You can’t have a puppet senator devoted to undermining the national defense on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while setting aside Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for advancing the cause of forced unionism and the death of the free-enterprise system. To accomplish either of those objectives would take a full work week.
The union issue is probably a non-starter for Maine voters, most of whom will never be confronted by made guys from New Jersey strongly suggesting they support forming a collective bargaining unit at their workplace. That’s because most of Maine’s workforce is either unemployed, unemployable, self-employed, working off the books, working at Wal-Mart, petty criminals, lawyers, or politicians (please excuse the redundancy). The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, the group behind those TV spots warning us about Tom Allen undermining the secret ballot by supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, is almost certainly wasting its money.
An issue much more likely to resonate with the electorate is that Allen didn’t do enough to win Navy shipbuilding contracts for Bath Iron Works, because he no longer sits on the House Armed Services Committee. Collins has repeatedly accused her opponent of allowing his fellow representatives to gut the budget for a new class of destroyers called the DDG-1000. Allen has said BIW would have plenty of work constructing an older style of ship called the DDG-51, although even the most math-challenged among us can see the DDG-1000 must be way better than the DDG-51 or it wouldn’t have a higher number. In any case, the Navy has now decided it wants to build both kinds of ships, thereby giving it the strongest possible protection from whoever wins the Senate race.
Allen and Collins have other crucial differences, although whenever I try to think about them, I get really, really sleepy. I think there’s something about whether we should get out of Iraq in a big hurry (Allen) or a small hurry (Collins). They also may disagree over whether there should be an open hunting season on oil company executives (him) or whether there should be a bag limit of two per day (her). He’s going to his party’s national convention (photo op with Obama is worth five points in the polls). She’s not going to her party’s national convention (photo op with Cheney is worth ... well, you know). He has extensive proposals dealing with all the policy-wonk aspects of Internet access, energy, health care, and education. She has a paper shredder. He has good hair. She has a paper shredder.
I’m sure that has nothing to do with the apparent absence of her sex life.
If you spot naked pols, e-mail me photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.