Thursday, August 03, 2006

Coffee Shops and Wiener Joints: NR's John Miller on the Laffey / Chafee Race

Now, for a limited time, John J Miller's piece on the Laffey / Chafee race from the August 7 issue of National Review. For non-subsribers a copy is available in the Senescent Man library, Oblogatory Reading.

A few excerpts:

...Chafee might be the most irritating Republican in the Senate. The problem isn’t simply that he opposes tax cuts, supports partial-birth abortion, and believes that enemy combatants should enjoy habeas corpus rights. After all, somebody has to be the most liberal Republican senator, and chances are it will be a person who hails from a true-blue state like Rhode Island.

What makes Chafee stand out even among figures such as senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe — liberal Republicans from Maine — is his sheer flamboyance. In 2004, he announced that he wasn’t voting for President Bush’s reelection. In what he called a “symbolic protest,” he wrote in the name of Bush’s father on his ballot. He also threatened to switch parties, something he may very well do if Democrats can welcome him into a Senate majority. Last January, Chafee was the only Republican to oppose the confirmation of Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito. And in March, he described Sen. Russ Feingold’s censure resolution to condemn Bush as “positive,” because it helped put the issue of wiretapping “into the public awareness.” (When these comments achieved their own public awareness — or, more accurately, their own notoriety — he added that he opposed censure.)

A close look at Chafee’s congressional record suggests that the senator would fit comfortably within the Democratic fold: The American Conservative Union gives Chafee a lifetime rating of 37 out of a possible 100. This is not only the worst performance in the GOP, but it actually places Chafee to the left of Democratic senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Chafee’s rating for 2005 is a dismal 12, which is precisely the score of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Only 24 senators received a lower score. Twenty-three of them are liberal Democrats, and the other is Jim Jeffords, the “independent” who caucuses with the Democrats. Even Feingold, who is actively courting his party’s left wing in anticipation of a presidential run, was rated a point better than Chafee. So it’s no wonder that a lot of rank-and-file Republicans have run out of patience with Rhode Island’s junior senator.

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