June 20, 2018
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Snowe, Collins keep differences to themselves

Harry Hamburg | AP
Harry Hamburg | AP
Maine's Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe (left), and Susan Collins walk on Capitol Hill in Washington in Oct. 2009.
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

There were a lot of reactions to the story in The Washington Post this week which revealed that Sen. Olympia Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins don’t actually like each other very much.

Many of the online comments from clearly conservative constituents simply noted that it was OK they didn’t like each other because “come to find out, I don’t like them either.”

And another, “That’s OK, they’re not really Republicans, either.”

And this oh-so-evolved remark by “Joe_LaRoint”: “Only coincidentally do they both have big schnozzes.”

I’m guessing “Joe” must be a blast to have around at family dinners.

This news that our two longtime woman senators didn’t care for each other took me by surprise.

I may not be the most tuned-in person, but I do have some connections, and this was something I had never heard about.

Upon reading the story I felt a nearly unbridled sense of admiration for both women and thought that perhaps the article should be cut out and taped to the wall in girls locker rooms everywhere.

Could it be?

Could these two powerful senators from the small state of Maine actually not like each other and yet have served for more than a decade together civilly and never have let on?

No snide remarks about Olympia’s voting record? Not even one aside comment about that ever-present ponytail?

Nothing from Snowe’s office, even a slip from a staffer about Collins’ quivering voice or her coziness with Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Are these really women? Are they really politicians?

Is it possible that these two intelligent women are actually smart enough and respectful enough and classy enough to have kept their differences to themselves?

Is it possible that they have put their work first?

Here is just one excerpt from the Post’s article in case you missed it.

“Now the complex partnership to watch is the team from Maine. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both moderate Republicans, are wedged into a tight political corner together. As the polarized right and left duke it out for airtime and dollars, these two women — often ignored — have unprecedented power.”

The Post even got Maine’s other most beloved politician of all time, William Cohen, on record as saying that “there is something of an intramural competition between them.”

When the writer told Sen. Lieberman that she was writing a dual profile of the two Maine senators, he retorted, “Did you say you were writing a dual profile — or, is that a d-u-e-l profile?”

Apparently this is not news to D.C. insiders or the senators’ staffs. Probably the close friends and family of the staff and of the senators have been aware of this tiff.

But all of this time they have kept it from you — and from me — and even this little Washington Post expose is done somewhat gently. It acknowledges the rift, but doesn’t bemoan it.

Collins and Snowe don’t comment on it directly. To a reporter’s queries, they simply acknowledge their respect for each other.

In this day, when for some reason there appears a need to vent and explore every thought and to air all grievances, the idea that these two driven women have kept their differences private comforts me and makes me proud.

There is something quite old-fashioned about it, something quite civil, something quite respectful. Something, might I say, that is quite gentlemanly.

Of course, we must weigh that against the brilliance of “Joe_LaRoint,” who makes that dazzling point about their “schnozzes.”

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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