Few Mainers probably remember the less-than-blockbuster 2004 film “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.” But one quote from the movie, by the crusty old dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan, could not ring truer today.

“If you’re going to play dodgeball, then you’ve got to learn the five D’s of dodgeball,” O’Houlihan, played by the legendary Rip Torn, tells his hapless trainees. “Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge!”

Which brings us to Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins.

As Washington erupted this week over President Trump’s now-infamous July 25 telephone chat with Ukrainian President Vologymyr Zelensky and Tuesday’s launch of formal impeachment proceedings by the Democrat-led House of Representatives, the Portland Press Herald and other Maine news organizations quickly posted statements from the state’s congressional delegation on this fast-unfolding scandal.

Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine said that if Trump indeed used his power to cajole a foreign government into influencing a U.S. election – which, according to detailed notes on the Ukraine call released Wednesday, Trump in fact did – “there can be no alternative” to impeachment proceedings.

“We cannot allow any president to subvert the highest office in the land in order to increase his or her chances of keeping it,” King said. “For the sake of America’s legacy, and her future, we must be prepared to stand once again in defense of the Constitution and continue our ancestors’ pursuit of that ever-elusive more perfect union.”

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree said, “The integrity of our republic rests on the action Congress takes now in the face of this unprecedented behavior by the president of the United States.”

Democratic Rep. Jared Golden said, “The House of Representatives must take every action necessary to combat this administration’s stonewalling of the rule of law.”

Then we have Collins.

First, when asked Monday about the Trump-Zelensky call and the whistleblower complaint that broke Trump’s latest mess wide open, the four-term Republican senator dodged.

“I want to wait until I know what really was said,” Collins told Politico. “Because I’ve learned from personal experience that press reports are not always accurate.”

Then, after Speaker Nancy Pelosi emerged from a Democratic House caucus Tuesday to announce the impeachment inquiry is on, Collins ducked:

“The constitutional role of a senator during an impeachment trial includes serving as a juror,” she said in a prepared statement.

Next, she dipped:

“As such, at this point, it is not appropriate for a senator to comment on the merits of the House inquiry or to prejudge its outcome.”

Then, before anyone could say, “But Senator, we have questions!” Collins dove:

“Therefore, I will not be commenting on the House proceedings.”

Finally, speaking again to Politico on Tuesday, she dodged all over again.

“I don’t know what evidence they’re using at this point,” Collins said of the House’s impeachment efforts. “I still hold hope out that we can legislate … but this could affect everything.”

That it could, Senator. That it could.

It would be ludicrous to think that Collins, as she gears up for the re-election race of her life, will bob and weave her way through the coming months, refusing to weigh in on Trump’s latest fiasco because she might be a “juror” who decides his ultimate fate.

Yet, for now, that’s exactly what she appears to be doing – playing dodgeball while our very democracy teeters on the verge of collapse.

Any rational reading of the five-page recap of the president’s telephone conversation with Zelensky leaves little doubt what was on Trump’s mind: He wanted Ukraine’s government to dig, and keep digging, into completely unfounded allegations that then-Vice President Joe Biden put pressure on a Ukrainian prosecutor to go easy on a company with which Biden’s son, Hunter, served as a board member.

At one point during the call, Zelensky speaks of Ukraine’s defense needs and his desire to purchase more Javelin missiles from the United States – even as Trump, at that very moment, was withholding close to $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.

Moments later, Trump talks about how “great” it would be if Zelensky teamed up with Attorney General William Barr to “look into” the bogus allegations against Biden.

I’d toss Collins a copy of the American Heritage Dictionary – which defines “quid pro quo” as “something that is given in return for something else” – but I’m afraid she’d just jump out of the way and let it land with a thud on the floor.

Then we have the whistleblower’s complaint, which reportedly involves more than just the July 25 phone call.

In an email Wednesday, Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark listed several recent press accounts in which Collins welcomed a briefing on the complaint (scheduled for Thursday) between two top intelligence officials and the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which Collins sits.

“The law is clear that if the inspector general of the intelligence community receives a whistleblower complaint, that the IG deems is urgent, that that is to be reported to the leaders of the intelligence community,” Collins told The Washington Post.

Call me skeptical, but nowhere in that quote do I see a clear call for the whistleblower’s complaint to be turned over, in complete and unredacted form, to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Rather, as usual, I see a carefully worded statement that provides Collins plenty of future maneuvering room. I can just hear her now: “I never called for the actual whistleblower’s complaint to be turned over, I simply supported the IG reporting to us that the complaint is urgent!”

It no longer matters. Late Wednesday, the Trump administration delivered the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress.

What Collins can’t, or won’t, acknowledge is that we’ve reached a new and dangerous chapter in the never-ending saga of Donald Trump.

A sitting president, by his own admission and with ample documentation, enlisted the help of another country’s leader to find dirt on the president’s likely opponent in an upcoming election.

That’s not speculation. It’s a fact.

And it’s no longer simply politics. It is, to borrow one of Trump’s most oft-used words, collusion to the extreme.

So, now more than ever, Collins has a decision to make.

She can announce her clean and conscientious break from Trump. That won’t sit well with what’s left of her Republican base, but it just might assure enough of her onetime independent and Democratic supporters that she can still stand tall when it truly matters.

Or she can spend the next 13 months ducking … dipping … and diving to avoid what has become, even to Collins, an inescapable truth: Donald Trump is no longer fit to serve as president of the United States.

Duck, dip and dive all you want, Senator Collins. There’s no dodging that.


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