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the national interest

Will Olympia Snowe Join Americans Elect?

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18:  U.S. Sen. OlympiaSnowe(R-ME) (L) questions U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, during a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on October 18, 2011 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony on "The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010" one year later.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Will Olympia Snowe go gently into that good night?

Olympia Snowe's retirement statement seemed like it dropped a huge hint, and I'm surprised it hasn't received any attention:

As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.

This sounds exactly like the kind of rhetoric emanating from Americans Elect, the third-party group that believes that both parties should put aside partisanship and come together to enact an ever-so-slightly more conservative version of Barack Obama's agenda. Moderate retiring senators often deliver lofty, vacuous paeans to bipartisanship on their way to a lucrative lobbying career. But Snowe's statement seems unusually specific ("unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate") about her intent to do something.

I suspect it may not be coincidental that David Boren, the former Democratic senator from Oklahoma and oil industry lickspittle, came out for Americans Elect today. The group is set up so that its presidential and vice-presidential candidates need to come from opposing parties. The process is set up to, at least putatively, allow the voters to choose the ticket. But Americans Elect and its well-heeled funders have maintained tight control over the proceedings to ensure their envisioned ticket pairing establishmentarian insiders can prevail over candidates like , say, Ron Paul who might be able to actually win an open vote.

Snowe and Boren would make for the kind of ticket Americans Elect is looking for. Is that the plan?

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images