Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Journal Launches a Full Front Offensive for Chafee

For the life of me I cannot comprehend how it is that Senator Lincoln Chafee is considered to be a brave and thoughtful maverick in the US Senate for “pressing Israel firmly” toward the peace process. The purported “news” article in Sunday’s Providence Journal would have us believe that Chafee is that rare sage who cleverly devises exactly how to tweak the dials in pursuit of just the right balance required between Israel and Palestine; but that his efforts are only to be dashed by the blunderbuss of a Bush administration’s broad strokes and the nuttiness of his opponent, Stephen P. Laffey.

Consider the verbs associated with the proper nouns in this article which demonstrate its bias. To wit:

Supporters call Chafee a courageous voice…

They praise Chafee for…

Critics put Chafee outside the mainstream…

[Chafee’s] dogged support of the peace process is in Israel’s long term interests….

Laffey advocates a…stance so strong that it…puts him in the minority…

Critics say Laffey’s positions make him captive to the pro-Israel lobby.

Chafee says…that Laffey appears to be a member of the Christian right…

…Laffey deflected questions…

Chafee has been “an early critic of the Bush administration…”

This last one is right at least. Chafee has been about as much of a critic of the Bush administration as just about any Democrat in the Senate.

In September he will face a vote of confidence by Republicans on that matter among others, and this poses a dilemma for him.

In an April 14 article in the Washington Post, Chafee came to grips with his dilemma. He said, after a meeting with the Exeter Republican committee that “once [he] could count on voters in Rhode Island to tolerate his maverick ways, but this time the response is blank stares. ‘Nobody listened to my reasoning,’ Chafee recounted as he piled hay into a wheelbarrow. ‘They [fellow Republicans] support the president on everything.’.”

Well, perhaps it seems that way to him.

There is an underlying and false premise on the part of Chafee, and dare I say, the writer of this news article in the Projo, and that is that it is possible to press Israel through firm stances to work with the Palestinians. Chafee (and the writer) appear to blame Bush for not putting enough pressure on Israel prior to the election in Palestine which ushered in the Hamas majority.

This is at least simplistic and at most outrageous. Hamas support had been building for many years due to the gross corruption of the ruling Palestinian Authority, first under Arafat, and then under his successors. Moreover, under Ariel Sharon and his Kadima party successor, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israel has been returning land to the Palestinians. The only other more moderate position left would be to hand over all of Israel to the Palestinians. And Hamas continues to pursue exactly that.

If anyone wants to be applying pressure, it should be on the Palestinians. And very soon, Chafee’s fellow Republicans will be applying apt pressure on him.

This front page news item in Sunday’s Providence Journal would have us think of Chafee as some sort of courageous and sagacious maverick who is warding off barbarians at the gate, but in the meanwhile members of his very own are thoroughly perplexed by his wild and inconsistent positions. Now that a time is coming, and very soon, for a contemplation and review of his behavior, those enamored of his liberal, though inconsistent positions are racing to his defense.

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