October 14, 2009


Meet Sen. Olympia Snowe.

She voted for the Baucus Bill, going against her fellow Republicans, but made it clear that this “…was her vote today,” “…tomorrow is a different day…” and could be “…a different vote.” The now-famous “Public Option” amendment was not in this bill, which many think is the reason Snowe said “yes.”

I disagree. (I know how surprised you must be.)

Olympia Snowe could very well be President Obama’s “ringer” in this game of healthcare reform.

StethescopeResearching her history, one finds that our President and Sen. Snowe have some things in common. Neither came from privilege. Both were raised, in part, by family members other than their biological parents. Both have fathers who were born in other countries. Both are highly educated, earning multiple degrees from different colleges and universities. Her voting record certainly indicates pragmatism in decision-making – a trait our President has demonstrated often.

And both want real healthcare reform.

The Senior Senator’s voting record (approximately 58% with Republicans) is not only good for our President, but is also good for Maine and the rest of our country. This 62 year old legislator keeps her thoughts very close to the vest, rarely gives interviews, and even walks up the back stairs when entering the capitol building, to avoid the media.


I believe the reason Sen. Snowe voted for the Baucus Bill was to get it out of committee and move the process forward. She knows, as does everyone involved, the real “battle” will take place “in conference,” which is still three steps away, as I illustrate in From Bill to Law.

Her “yes” vote also has one other very important attribute: it will probably open the door for other moderate Republicans to vote against party lines in subsequent votes. This will give real healthcare reform – which will include a robust “Public Option” – the momentum it needs to become law before the end of the year.

Our President is not only aware of these probabilities, he’s counting on them becoming realities. As I said in Strategy Over Blather, congress will fight the “battles” and he will win the “war.” If he needs to step into the battles, he will do so, privately.

We’re already further along in the process than we’ve been since 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt – a two-term Republican – first introduced healthcare reform running for a third term as, believe it or not, a Progressive candidate in the Progressive Party of 1912. This was their position on “Health,” November 5, 1912:

TRoosevelt“We favor the union of all the existing agencies of the Federal Government dealing with the public health into a single national health service without discrimination against or for any one set of therapeutic methods, school of medicine, or school of healing with such additional powers as may be necessary to enable it to perform efficiently such duties in the protection of the public from preventable diseases as may be properly undertaken by the Federal authorities, including the executing of existing laws regarding pure food, quarantine and cognate subjects, the promotion of vital statistics and the extension of the registration area of such statistics, and co-operation with the health activities of the various States and cities of the Nation.”

Further reading of the platform reveals how long the Republican Party has been in the grip of big corporations. This “grip” on our country’s politics came to a head during Republican President Herbert Hoover’s term (1929-1933) and resulted in the Great Depression. Sound familiar?

As a well-read student of history, President Obama knows all-too-well what to do to avoid the errors of the past when making sweeping social change.

So does Olympia Snowe.




PS – Sen. Snowe and I also have some commonality: both of us have Greek parents and we were both baptized in the Greek Orthodox faith.

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