The recent retirement announcement by Sen. Olympia Snowe is a disappointment to the people of Maine and to me personally. Olympia has devoted her life to public service, and her decision to abandon a race that she surely would have won speaks volumes about the dysfunction in Congress. It has also prompted many people to ask me whether moderates have a future in the Senate.
Olympia will join the pantheon of great leaders our state has produced — Margaret Chase Smith, Bill Cohen, Ed Muskie, George Mitchell. These committed public servants understood that they were sent to Washington to solve problems, not to score political points.
But this is no longer the Senate of Smith and Muskie, of Cohen and Mitchell, and soon it will no longer be the Senate of Olympia Snowe. The change is particularly troubling in these perilous times. With a $15 trillion debt, 13 million people unemployed, oil near $110 per barrel and turmoil throughout the Middle East, there is an urgent need for leaders from the sensible center who realize that neither party has a monopoly on good ideas. The challenges we face will not be met by those who believe compromise is a dirty word.