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About Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski

July 28, 2017

My last post was The McCain Moment. Since then, I've read several FB and other posts observing that Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, both Republicans, aren't getting the same level of credit for defeating the ACA repeal as John McCain, some speculating it is based on sexism. I didn't focus on that in the prior post, but I think this is worth discussing. I have a slightly different take.

 

I think it reflects the idea that we always tend to focus on the marginal vote, the one that controls the outcome. We knew how they would vote, but we didn't know how McCain would vote, and his vote proved decisive after the others were accounted for.

 

Think about how often on the Supreme Court we focus on the median justice, today Anthony Kennedy, and ascribe to him responsibility for judicial outcomes. Of course he would not be in the position to be decisive but for the other voters who align with him on controlling issues. But we never say "yea liberals for allowing the moderate to join you," or "go conservatives for setting up the moderate to rule your way." Actually, Sandra Day O'Connor was often the median jurist before she left the Court, and when that was the case, she tended to be the object of media affection for the same reason that Kennedy so often is today and that John McCain has been for the skinny ACA repeal vote this week.

 

And of course, the personal story about McCain's health didn't hurt the attention either.

 

Your comments are, of course, always welcome.

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