Today a compromise bill came out of the Senate and House Conference on the Stimulus Bill, due in large part to the courage of these three Republican Senators - Susan Collins, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania - and they deserve to be recognized as heroes.
Senator Arlen Specter said, "I am supporting the economic stimulus package for one simple reason: The country cannot afford not to take action." Senator, Olympia J. Snowe said, "Given that unemployment is at its highest level in 16 years, inaction simply is not an option." Senator Susan Collins said, "This deal represents a victory for the American people." She went on to say, "This bill is not perfect, but it represents a bipartisan, effective and targeted approach to the crisis facing our country."
They, alone among their 239 Republicans colleagues, were able to see beyond their party's intransigent and rigid ideology and put aside their own misgivings to work in the spirit of bipartisanship offered by President Barack Obama from the beginning of his administration.
They, alone among their fellow Republicans, understand that Americans are hurting and need relief and that delay would only deepen this financial crisis. They acted against their political self interests for the greater good of their country.
It's not often that we see this kind of selflessness and courageous action from American politicians. They have earned my deep respect and the thanks of every American. Contrast that with the cynical, calculated and callous statements of Republican leadership in recent days and their courage is breathtaking.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) recently stated that his party should take a page from the Taliban playbook and become obstructionists by adapting Taliban tactics. I can imagine the absolute firestorm of hate-filled rhetoric from the right if that kind of statement had come from a Democrat.
Excuse me, Mr. Sessions? Are you really willing to adapt terrorist tactics to cripple America's political process and its economy for your own narrow aims? Democrats have been called traitor by your party for lesser transgressions.
Excuse me, Mr. Boenher? Are you really willing to put America at further risk, as long as you can use this crisis to your advantage to rebuild your party's image? In light of the fact that your party is largely culpable for this crisis, your statement is particularly outrageous.
But, this is not about two insipid reprehensible political hacks, it is about how refreshing and uplifting even the slightest bipartisanship cooperation gives hope to America--that a return to civility and negotiation is possible.
Unfortunately, the scathing criticism these three conscientious Republican Senators face has already begun.
Arlen Specter has already been attacked by the right-wing media, with some going so far as to suggest that he may even have been bribed. In an interview, conservative talking head, Laura Ingraham, asked, "Is it nice to be wined and dined at the White House?" implying that this man of integrity had somehow sold out his principles for a cozy relationship with the new Democratic Administration.
In this modern era of American partisan politics, these three put aside party and for them "Putting Country First" became something more than a clever, cynical political slogan.