The New York Times has a profile of sorts of a pair of Maine senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, in which author Andrew Miga trots out the usual line about them being “fiscally conservative, yet more socially moderate” Republicans who “part with the GOP on issues like abortion rights and the environment.” There are a number of problems with this argument. The first in particular to Snowe and Collins, the second about the use of the term moderate when applied to pro-abortion politicians.

Snowe and Collins, like other “moderate” Republicans are usually described as fiscally conservative/socially moderate. But in the case of Snowe and Collins, they are not very conservative at all. Neither has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating above 50 (0=perfect liberal voting record, 100=perfect conservative voting record). According to a Human Events story published in March 2009, Snowe was the biggest RINO (Republican in Name Only), with Collins a close second. In 2008, according to Human Events, their ACU ratings were 12 and 16 respectively, comparable to leading Democrats Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid. Both Snowe and Collins support campaign finance reform and gun control. Collins has voted against several free trade agreements and in favour of pro-union measures, while Snowe more generally opposes free trade including NAFTA. Only three Republicans voted for the economically interventionist American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Snowe and Collins were two of them. Snowe voted against the 2003 Bush tax cuts. Both supported the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. Both are opposed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth. So their small-government credentials are questionable at best. So much for being fiscally conservative.

The term ‘socially moderate’ generally means ‘moderate on abortion’ which actually means pro-choice or pro-abortion. To be moderate on the issue would imply being somewhere in the middle on the issue. Collins has a lifetime 100% NARAL Pro-choice America voting record. According to the National Right to Life Committee, since 1997, Collins has voted pro-life on just 10 of 62 scored votes in the Senate (16%) while Snowe has voted pro-life on 8 of 62 (13%). In four of seven Congresses, they had a 0 rating and Collins even voted against the partial-birth abortion ban. In no sense could they be mistaken for taking middle-of-the-road positions on abortion.

So ‘socially moderate’ on abortion must mean something else. Being moderate on abortion is journalist-speak for supporting abortion, thus implying that opposition to abortion is immoderate. This is obviously biased reporting but it is so commonly accepted that hardly anyone even thinks about it or what it means. (The same could be said for their so-called moderation on the environment.) I would suggest there is nothing moderate about killing the unborn or supporting a woman’s right to do so. But it says a whole lot about our society when being pro-abortion is considered a sign of one’s moderation.