Tuesday October 08, 2013 | 10:20 PM

WASHINGTON – Former Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, blasted Congress on Tuesday for demonstrating an “abdication of leadership” as it “lurches from one-inflected crisis to another.”

Snowe wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times that she had witnessed government’s “greatest potential as well as its calamitous capacity for dysfunction” during her time in politics.

The moderate Republican retired in January after 34 years in Congress, citing the political polarization in Washington and Congress’ inability to address major policy issues. In her op-ed, she recalled some of the bipartisan efforts in which she was involved to bring about gender equality for women, expand internet access in rural areas and enhance tax programs for low-income families.

She then asked: “Can you imagine these kinds of collaborative initiatives today?”

“Instead, Congress has arrived at a moment when policy-making has been virtually abandoned,” Snowe wrote in the op-ed. “It has devolved into a series of ‘gotcha’ votes for political leverage. Rather than legislating, it's all about ‘messaging’ amendments, which aren't designed to solve a problem but to create the basis for appeals to each party's political base and 30-second soundbites for the next election.”

She then goes on to promote her work with the Bipartisan Policy Center – a Washington-based think tank – and her own Olympia’s List political action committee, through which she plans to support politicians willing to work across the aisle.

Snowe has been on a national speaking tour in recent months ever since releasing her book, “Fighting For Common Ground,” and joining the Bipartisan Policy Center as a senior fellow. Her comments in the LA Times followed an interview last week with CNN in which she had harsh words for some within the Tea Party who she said were pushing the GOP to the extremes.

“Certainly this isn't a party I recognize and the party that I joined when I . . . first enrolled, and that’s regrettable,” Snowe told CNN’s Ashley Banfield. “This is not helping the Republican Party currently, that's for sure. And I think that clearly that there is going to have to be a rebuilding within the party and to recognize that this imperils the future of the party as it stands today.”

Here's the full CNN interview:


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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