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Giving credit where credit is due is nigh impossible in politics today.
The awful ads in Maine’s U.S. Senate race is Exhibit A. I am waiting for the advertisement that blames Susan Collins for the coronavirus outbreak. After all, she has championed funding for the National Institute of Health, which gave grant funding for research into human-animal virus transmission potential, which included working with Chinese virologists in Wuhan, where this worldwide pandemic began.
That tenuous logic is as tortured as many of the other attacks against her.
I don’t suffer from the illusion that Republicans are any better. “Obamacare” was denigrated as, essentially, the government establishment of socialist death panels that would make Stalin and Mao blush.
Way too over-the-top.
There is plenty to dislike about the Affordable Care Act. But — credit where it is due — it did try to decouple our health insurance from our employment status. That idea makes a lot of sense.
The same holds true with Gov. Janet Mills. Credit where it is due; her inaugural address was that of a Democratic official, but also sought to acknowledge the prudence proffered by Maine Republicans. Specifically, holding back from massive tax hikes to fulfill left-wing wish lists.
Which brings us to President Donald Trump.
In a surprise to no one, he officially became the 2020 Republican presidential nominee this week. Anyone can find a reason they may not support his re-election. Democrats don’t like him; that’s a given.
But fiscal hawks worried about increasing deficits in a pre-COVID era, while his Twitter account is often groan-worthy. Or worse.
Yet, credit should be given where credit is due. And Trump’s unorthodox foreign policy strategy has borne significant fruit this month.
On Aug. 13, a major international breakthrough was announced. The United Arab Emirates — home most famously to Dubai and Abu Dhabi — agreed to recognize Israel as a nation and normalize their diplomatic relations. They will only be the third Arab nation to do so, the first without territorial disputes.
This is a significant change in a complex part of the world. It is far from a panacea, but it is one of the first major developments in decades. The last was the Israeli-Jordianian agreement signed in 1994 with President Bill Clinton.
The official communique for the deal included laudatory language praising President Trump, attributed to the leaders of Israel and the UAE. They gave credit where credit was due.
Closer to home, the Trump Administration had another international announcement. After years of efforts, the European Union dropped all import tariffs on American lobster retroactively effective Aug. 1. This follows the EU’s finalization of a comprehensive Canadian trade agreement on a variety of goods, including lobster.
So now, thanks to the Trump Administration, Maine’s lobster fishery is on equal footing with its Canadian competitor as far as European tax policy goes. Give credit where it is due.
Which brings us back to those crazy ads in the Senate race. Another line of attack accuses Collins of supporting Trump. When it came to fighting for Maine’s lobstering community, she absolutely did. Along with Angus King and Chellie Pingree.
Credit where it is due. Policymaking is a sticky, messy, complicated business that does not lend itself to flash 30 second advertisements. That is particularly true in the international arena.
But for all the sound and fury — and tweets and TV spots — real, tangible results are what matter. And when it comes to the Israel-UAE accord or the favorable European tax treatment of Maine’s most famous fishery, you have to give credit where credit is due.
And that holds true whether it is owed to Susan Collins or Janet Mills, Donald Trump or Bill Clinton.
Michael Cianchette is a Navy reservist who served in Afghanistan and in-house counsel to a number of businesses in southern Maine. He was a chief counsel to former Gov. Paul LePage.