Some ‘independent’ only when convenient

The word "independence" is tossed around a great deal in politics, especially here in New Hampshire, where we pride ourselves on being independent. Perhaps we are, sometimes. Perhaps some of our politicians are … sometimes. Although we haven’t seen much of that lately.

Fortunately, in our neighboring state of Maine, independence is alive and well in the person of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who has broken with her Republican brethren in the matter of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. Collins met with Garland and, unlike the vast majority of Republicans, is advocating Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination. Most Republicans say they want to wait until after the November presidential election to let the voters have a say, conveniently forgetting that the voters had a say in 2012 when they re-elected Obama.

Collins has exhibited the kind of independence we wish some of the Granite State’s solons had. Speaking of the Garland nomination, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, writing in The Globe, pointed out that in 1991, President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and a Democratic majority in the Senate held hearings. True, Bush’s term had longer to run than Obama’s, but the Democrats could have avoided holding hearings, and they didn’t.

Apparently, 1991 is too ancient in our history to have any meaning. And unfortunately, Collins’ independence doesn’t seem to