The End Nearing, Chafee Embraces Ultra-Partisan Rhetoric
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Oct 31, 2006 at 09:29:23 PM EST
Lincoln Chafee has done a great job portraying himself both to the media and to voters as a consummate moderate, proudly announcing his vote for the 41st, rather than 43rd President during the 2004 election, voting against the nomination of Samuel Alito, opposing opening the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve to drilling. Yet when push comes to shove and the conservative and highly-partisan Republican leadership needs him on their side, whether it is on the vote for Majority Leader or cloture on the Alito nomination, Chafee consistently puts party ahead of conviction. And when faced with prospect of very possible defeat, Chafee lets slip harsh partisan rhetoric even as he goes on the air proclaiming his independence from party. Elana Schor has the details for The Hill.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), whose collegial personality has bolstered his appeal in an otherwise blue state, took an indirect shot at Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) during a debate Monday night with his Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse.
When Whitehouse blasted Chafee for failing to push for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation in the wake of escalating chaos in Iraq, the incumbent -- trailing his foe by as many as eight points in recent polls -- asked Whitehouse why he has failed to question Reid's amended reports to the Senate ethics committee clarifying the details of a $1.1 million land deal.
"Whitehouse is talking about, `you should call for this, you should call for that,' and the senator is putting out that the current Democratic minority leader, Harry Reid, has got some ethics questions surrounding his conduct and Whitehouse has stayed silent," Chafee campaign manager Ian Lang said. "Does [he] believe that this disqualifies Reid as minority leader?"
Sen. Chafee, like just about everyone else inside the Beltway (or who follows what happens around Capitol Hill), knows that there is no "there" in the Harry Reid land deal story. While Reid was excessively sloppy in detailing his holdings, failing to report that he formed an LLC to better facilitate his properties, he did not, as many Republican members of Congress have (including Speaker Denny Hastert), use federal appropriations to enrich himself (by, for instance, allocating federal funds for a highway near his land holdings as did Hastert and others).
But that's largely beside the point. Trailing badly in the polls (pollster.com shows him down six points), Chafee is going to great lengths to publicly distance himself from the partisan excesses of his own Republican Party. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Lincoln Chafee is a Republican who votes the party line when ultimately necessary and supports an extreme GOP majority in the Senate. And no ad ought to blind Rhode Island voters -- particularly independents and loosely-affiliated Democrats -- to this fact.