Washington Post offers competing versions of Susan Collins and DADT

There’s a key paragraph in today’s Washington Post article on the DADT debacle:

When Reid said no, Collins erupted, angrily waving her arms about the process. She huddled with Lieberman and Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), reading through legislative language on the floor. She opposed the process Reid had laid out, so Brown and Murkowski voted no. Collins waited until it was clear that the legislation had failed and then voted with Democrats to proceed on the measure.

Got that? It’s accurate.

But, Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart apparently didn’t read the article. He has a far different interpretation — a much simpler interpretation of what happened yesterday:

Those who questioned Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins’s sincerity in wanting to repeal don’t ask don’t tell (DADT) got their comeuppance when the Republican from Maine did what she hinted she might do when we talked yesterday: She voted for cloture on the motion to reconsider the defense authorization bill (NDAA).

I don’t feel any comeuppance. Anyone else?

Who to believe here? Hmm. I’m going with Ed O’Keefe and Paul Kane who understand how the Hill actually operates. Capehart just offered another of his overly simplistic interpretations of how DC works. It’s what one might expect from a neophyte, not an editor. Oh, but Capehart finally does think the President could lead on DADT.

NOTE FROM JOHN: I worked as a legislative attorney in the Senate. Collins’ vote does not disprove that she undercut our victory. Anyone who knows how the Senate actually works inside knows that Senators are sometimes cut loose and permitted to vote contrary to the way the leadership wants IF, and only if, it’s clear the vote is going to fail anyway. Collins didn’t spend 20 minutes dissing the bill, telling her colleagues that a deal permitting them to vote for cloture had not been reached, just for kicks. She convinced Murkowski and Brown to vote against cloture, then voted for it herself to cover her behind with the angry constituents back home, hoping they were clueless enough about Senate procedure to think that she supported them all along. She’s no hero here. Don’t get me wrong, Senator Reid isn’t exactly a hero either, nor is the President. But the notion that Collins somehow proved she wasn’t against us is naive.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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