Thursday, September 08, 2005

More on Why Senator Lincoln Chafee Has Got to Go

As you may know from reading my blog (see my August 10 posts), I believe that the Republican Party would be better off if Senator Lincoln Chafee (RINO-Rhode Island) made it official and switched to the Democrat Party. Well, the announcement by Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, a pro-life, moderate-to-conservative Republican, that he will run against Chafee in the 2006 Rhode Island GOP Senate primary could help give Chafee that “push” he needed to join the Democrat Party, where he would have a better chance of winning the primary.

Stephen Laffey is a candidate whose views are well suited to Rhode Island tastes---he is a bit populist on economics (but not a socialist or union lackey), pro-life on abortion (but not “in-your-face” about it), and a supporter of the military (but not a George W. Bush-type hawk). While, in a vacuum, Laffey is not my ideal candidate by any stretch of the imagination, we must remember that he is running in Rhode Island, a state that gave President Bush under 40% in each of 2000 and 2004, so we cannot run a 100% conservative and expect to win. Laffey is probably like a 75% conservative, which is certainly better than a 25% conservative (if that) in Chafee or a 5% conservative such as the Democrats running for the Senate.

Some of you may wonder why I call Chafee a “25% conservative.” Well, this number comes from the 12 key votes of the 107th Congress selected by Michael Barone for his Almanac of American Politics. The votes prove that Chafee is far too liberal to call himself a Republican. Chafee is markedly more liberal than the other RINO Senators (Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins), as well as far more liberal than schizophrenic Republican John McCain and conservative Democrat Ben Nelson. The 12 votes selected by Barone as representative of the 107th Congress are (1) a $1.35 trillion tax cut over 10 years, (2) expand patients’ rights in dealing with insurers and HMOs, (3) campaign finance reform (“CFR”), (4) permit oil exploration in ANWR, (5) confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General, (6) withhold funding from schools that prohibit Boy Scouts from using their facilities due to the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay scoutmasters, (7) provide funds for the prosecution of “hate crimes,” (8) provide access to (and funding for) abortions for military personnel and their dependents stationed overseas, (9) prohibit U.S. cooperation with International Criminal Court, (10) extend trade promotion authority, (11) authorize use of U.S. military force against Iraq, and (12) excluding presidential authority to ban union membership for Homeland Security employees. This is a fair collection of issues, with four votes that measure economic conservatism, four that measure social conservatism, and four that measure foreign-relations conservatism.

Chafee voted with the conservatives on just 3 of the 12 votes: (1) He voted for the 2001 Bush tax cut (although he was instrumental in reducing the amount of the tax cut---in fact, Chafee was the first GOP Senator to speak out against it, even before then-Republican Jim Jeffords did), (2) he voted to confirm Ashcroft, and (3) he voted in favor of trade promotion authority. 3 out of 12 is 25%, which is 25% less than how Specter voted (Specter’s 6 conservative votes were (1) tax cuts, (2) ANWR, (3) Ashcroft, (4) hate crimes, (5) trade promotion authority, and (6) Iraq War). Snowe also had 6 conservative votes: (1) tax cuts, (2) Ashcroft, (3) ban cooperation with ICC, (4) trade promotion authority, (5) Iraq War, and (6) deny Homeland Security union. Her Maine colleague Collins had 7 conservative votes, the same 6 that Snowe had plus voting for the Boy Scouts. McCain voted conservative on 9 of the 12 votes, all but (1) expand patients’ rights, (2) CFR and (3) ANWR. And Ben Nelson, in spite of facing pressure from the Democrat leadership to vote the party line, voted conservative on 7 of the 12 votes: (1) (1) tax cuts, (2) CFR, (3) Ashcroft, (4) ban on overseas military abortions, (5) ban cooperation with ICC, (6) trade promotion authority, and (7) Iraq War; had Ben Nelson been a Republican, I think he may have voted the conservative position on 11 or 12 of the 12 votes.

Kicking Chafee out of the party would not have hurt the GOP in any of the 3 votes in which he took the conservative position (even though I think he would have voted as a liberal on all three had he been a Democrat), since the (reduced) tax cuts passed with 62 votes, Ashcroft was confirmed with 58 votes and trade promotion authority was approved 66-30. Unlike Specter, Snowe and Collins, who vote the conservative position half the time and can at least be counted on to support most of President Bush’s foreign policy, Chafee is predictably liberal across the board. The only use that Chafee had to the GOP was allowing the party to “control” the Senate back when the GOP had 50 or 51 Senators, but now that we have 55 Senators there is really no need to keep him around taking up a GOP spot on three committees (even with our 2-man advantage on those committees, there are tie votes whenever Chafee votes with the Democrats, which is more often than not) and allowing the media to say that “even one Republican Senator refused to vote for President Bush” or to call some ultraliberal measure a “bipartisan bill.”

So I say we kick him out. And if Chafee won’t leave on his own volition, Rhode Island Republican primary voters can make the decision for him by voting for Stephen Laffey in the Republican Senate primary next year.


Cliff Smith said...

Excellent post. It really lays out the arguement well.

When, in the past, I said I supported Specter but don't support Chafee, people seem confused. You layed out the case that, even if you wouldn't take that position, why it is a reasonable one, better then even I have in my own defense.

AuH2ORepublican said...

Actually, I don't support Specter, either, since we could do a heck of a lot better in a state like Pennsylvania. Had Pat Toomey gotten just 1% more in the 2004 Senate primary and had thus defeated Specter, I think not only that Toomey would have beaten Joe Hoeffel in the general election (albeit by a smaller margin than Specter beat Hoeffel), but that President Bush would have carried PA instead of losing it by 2.5%. Toomey's presence on the ballot would have increased conservative turnout, especially in the "T," while Specter's absence from the ballot would have decreased turnout among Kerry-and-Specter-voting RINOs from the Philly metro area.

However, if Arlen Specter was a Senator from Rhode Island instead of from Pennsylvania, I would certainly support his reelection and would encourage Mayor Laffey to run for Lt. Gov. instead of for the Senate.

Cliff Smith said...

I think the 'Toomey would bring conservatives to the polls' arguement was false from the beginning. Toomey wasn't going to bring anybody to the polls that wasn't already going to go for President Bush.

He might have beat Hoffel, maybe, but he might have lost. It would have gotten REALLY interesting if Specter didn't play nice after his loss, which, be honest, he would have every right not to do.

Whatever the case, he would have taken a LOT of resources, and we only won in SD, Florida, and Lousiana by a point or two, and North Carolina by 4. I it easily could have cost us a seat in one of these states indirectly, even if he had won.

But whatever, I don't want to fight old battles. All I was saying is that all so-called RINO's are not equal, and I think it makes sense to support some moderate-conservatives or even flat out moderates in some situations, but that in some, when they are no longer moderates by any reasonable mesure, but liberals (i.e. Chafee, Wicker) then it's a different story.

Really, I think Chafee is essentially the second coming of Wicker. And yes, I'd have supported Lieberman over Wicker. (Heck, becuase of the WOT, I'd support Lieberman over Chafee.)