Olympia Snowe, Stealth Culture Warrior

Less than two weeks before her almost certain reelection to a third term, Olympia Snowe issued a fatwa against Exxon-Mobil and climate change policy skeptics who have had the audacity to openly question her advocacy of Kyoto derived mandatory greenhouse gas emissions controls. Senator Snowe urged Exxon-Mobil to stop resisting her efforts to pass symbolic, expensive and futile GHG regulatory legislation, and most especially to gag two vocal critics: the Competitive Enterprise Institute (headed by economic freedom advocate and 1996 GOP Vice Presidential nominee Jack Kemp) and techcentralstation, a web site devoted to markets, technology and entrepreneurial optimism, as opposed to the Senator's apparent agenda for bureaucracy and precautionary principle pessimism.
Senator Snowe has cultivated an image as a non-ideological moderate who works with the other side of the aisle to get things done. This last barrage against free speech and intellectual pluralism shows that she is in fact a stealthy culture warrior, steadily pushing for the secular progressive left.

This latest attempt to stifle speech she disagrees with is not her worst offense against free speech and the 1st Amendment's plain language that "Congress shall make NO law...abridging the freedom of speech." Along with Senators McCain, Feingold and Collins, Snowe has primary responsibility for the passage of campaign finance reform legislation that has eroded the plain meaning of the 1st Amendment into a post-modern judicial and regulatory nightmare. Democrats in Congress are supposedly searching for grounds and evidence to impeach the President; his signature on campaign finance reform legislation vitiating the 1st Amendment is grounds enough.

Campaign finance reform empowered the wonderful 527's like Moveon.org and the Swift Boat Vets, groups that have polarized our politics and culture while insulating political parties and elected officials from accountability. Moveon, whose top leadership is Maine-based, has received major funding from George Soros, who is the funding Godfather of the secular-progressive left. Not only did Senator Snowe create the conditions which gave us Moveon and Soros' advocacy, it turns out she is engaging in a variety of shadowy cooperative activities with the culture warrior billionaire.

On the global warming front, Senator Snowe co-chairs an international climate change group created by two left wing think tanks backed by Mr. Soros. Through the group Senator Snowe has worked to repudiate President Bush's market based approach in favor of heavy handed regulation to ration energy and raise energy prices- in other words, more green nanny state and less economic freedom and growth. Senator Snowe has been unwilling to honestly answer two basic questions: How much global warming will her policies avert (none) and at what cost (1-3% of GDP)? The lack of honesty, the attacks on freedom and Mr. Soros' involvement suggest that climate change policy is a battlefront in the culture war.

Mr. Soros has also contributed to a liberal Republican Political Action Committee, Main Street Partnership, which Senator Snowe is deeply involved with. In 2004 Senator Snowe co-chaired George Bush's Maine campaign; today she is dancing with a man who spent millions to defeat the President and continues to push the secular progressive agenda.

Senator Snowe has compiled a perfectly moderate lifetime score of 50 from the American Conservative Union and a 53 "liberal" score from the National Journal. But if you delve deeper into her ratings on a variety of culture war issues, it's not a picture of moderation that emerges. On abortion, she gets zeroes from the National Right to Life to Committee and 100's from Planned Parenthood. On the Environment, she's been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and has generally earned 70's and above from the LCV. On family issues, she got zeroes from the Family Research Council. On Immigration she got zeroes and teens from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

A moderate would not have shredded the Constitution and free speech in the name of campaign finance reform. A moderate would not have tried to gag dissenting policy views and threaten businesses and individuals she disagrees with. A moderate would not be dishonest and disingenuous about the costs and benefits of her policy preferences. A moderate would not be working with foreigners to stab her President in the back. And most importantly, a moderate would not be stealthily advocating and enabling one side of the culture war while claiming moderate non-combatant status. Senator Snowe is a stealthy culture warrior in moderate's clothing. I don't think the charade will last for a third term.

Jon Reisman teaches environmental policy and is Chair of the Professional Studies Division at the University of Maine at Machias. He is a Maine Heritage Policy Center Adjunct Fellow, and a contributor to techcentralstation, now known as tcsdaily. He can be contacted at jreisman@maine.edu