December 6, 2005

Mac Owens & His Encounter with Sen. Chafee

Marc Comtois

Anchor Rising Contributor Mac Owens has posted this story about an encounter with Senator Chafee on The Corner:

Chafee is a disgrace. In February 2002, I was invited to give some remarks at the North Kingstown Republican Town Committee's Annual Lincoln Day Dinner. This is a big event each year and all of the Rhode Island Republicans are there. The title of my speech that night was "Abraham Lincoln, the American Founding, and the Principles of the Republican Party," which I think at some point was published on NRO. In any event, Chafee was there and sitting at a table right in front of the podium. When I reached the penultimate paragraph of my speech, I looked right at him and said:
"As the country music philosopher, Aaron Tippin, said in a song a few years back, "you've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything." Republicans have traditionally stood for limited government to protect equal rights. If the Party of Lincoln ever abandons its fealty to the principles of the Declaration, it will become little more than a pale imitation of the redistributionist Democratic Party. And Republicans can never hope to match the Democrats in offering a government solution for every problem, real or imagined."
Chafee's face turned absolutely scarlet. I heard from a party guy later that evening that Chafee was livid. I was elated.

Shortly after 9/11, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a TV reporter. He is a great guy but his politics are conventionally liberal. He was disgusted with Chafee because when he asked for Chafee's response to the attacks, our senator wouldn't give him an answer. Apparently, he needed to see what others thought first. Even liberals are disgusted by Chafee's lack of backbone.

I voted for him in 2000. I will never pull the lever for him again. As a Southerner, I come from a long line of "Yellow-Dog Democrats" and in keeping with this legacy, I will vote for a yellow dog before I will vote for this spineless disgrace.

Incidentally, the speech to which Mac refers is available here.

UPDATE: Anonymous commenter "Anthony" had this to say about Mac's post:

Suffice to say, I do recall Chafee's reaction to the incident. Maybe Chafee didn't give the reporter the sound bite he was looking for, but to suggest the Chafee wasn't bothered by the 9/11 attacks is just factually untrue. It is shameful to suggest otherwise. . .

So let me get this straight, you used Senator Chafee's name to raise money for the North Kingstown GOP and then proceeded to intentionally insult the person who helped you raise the money? Afterwards you were glad that you embarassed a special guest? Nice. Real classy.

I bear responsibility for cross-posting Mac's comments on NRO here at Anchor Rising. I have informed Mac of these comments and leave it up to him to respond if he so wishes.

UPDATE II: Mac responds:

I take it that Anthony doesn't like my assessment of the good senator's attachment to the principles of the Republican Party. But if he were to actually read my speech he would see that I had no intention of embarrassing Chafee. He does a fine job of that on his own. The purpose of my speech was to remind a group of Republicans about the legacy of their Party, a legacy too many Republicans, Chafee most certainly among them, have forgotten or abandoned. To tell you the truth, I didn't even know Chafee would be there when I was composing the speech. The fact that he was livid told me that at least one person there understood what I was talking about.

I probably shouldn't have related the second hand story about Chafee's response to 9/11, but I believe the reporter's account. He is a very well known reporter whose liberal credentials are impeccable. Nonetheless, I shouldn't have added it to my post. For this I apologize.

Anthony needs to develop a sense of humor. I know Aaron Tippin is not a real philosopher. But sometimes there is wisdom in the most mundane things. For instance, when it comes to women, I take my motto from a Sawyer Brown song. "Some girls don't like guys like me. Ah, but some girls do." Now that's true country philosophy.

In any event. I'll still vote for that yellow dog before I pull the lever for Chafee again.

Cheers, Mac

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I encourage EVERYONE - including the occasional "leftie" that peruses this site - to read Mr. Owens' original speech. (I only wish I'd been there to see it live.)

He distilled the essence of the American founding, and then juxtaposed that against the current "mindset" and "conventional wisdom."

Read it, then re-read it!

Posted by: Tom W at December 6, 2005 9:20 PM

This is posting is so inaccurate and shows such a lack of class, I feel obliged to respond to Mr. Owens.

Chafee's voting record is to the right of the most conservative Democrat senator according to every such public ranking, so for a "Yellow Dog Democrat" to be offended by his liberalism is nuts.

Chafee has taken unpopular stances on many issues, when the easier path would have been to take a different position, so the "he doesn't believe is anything" charge is baseless. You may not like the guy, but nobody in this state will believe that he is "spineless". Maybe they will in the South where you came from.

Limited government requires spending in line with a balanced budget. Chafee is what used to be called a "budget-hawk", a term that hasn't been used in many year. But that doesn't count as limited government anymore apparently.

I don't know about the 9/11 reaction and this is a prime example of an unverified, second-hand assertion ("a friend of mine who is a liberal said Chafee didn't react when he asked him a question")--so I'm reluctant to make a comment about this charge (I thought there was a policy to not put up information that can't be verified on this site, but I guess it only applies to one side). Suffice to say, I do recall Chafee's reaction to the incident. Maybe Chafee didn't give the reporter the sound bite he was looking for, but to suggest the Chafee wasn't bothered by the 9/11 attacks is just factually untrue. It is shameful to suggest otherwise.

From Owens' comments, it was obvious that the point of his speech was to embarass Chafee, just as Kanye West's comments were to embarrass Bush after the New Orleans disaster--"I looked right at him" and "I was elated" when I heard that Chafee was livid. Shameful and classless.

So let me get this straight, you used Senator Chafee's name to raise money for the North Kingstown GOP and then proceeded to intentionally insult the person who helped you raise the money? Afterwards you were glad that you embarassed a special guest? Nice. Real classy.

I guess that what you can expect from a guy who thinks Aaron Tippin is a "philospher". Ahh yes, the Honky-Tonk Superman! "Last night I broke the record for acting a fool/My favorite waitress said I went a little too far/When I came roller skating down the bar". A true philsopher! I apologize to those of you who aren't country music fans, but those of you who are will understand why I find calling Aaron Tippin a philosopher so funny. To quote the great futurist, George Jetson, "I'm sorry Mr. Sprocket"

I don't think most conservative have ever agreed with all of Chafee's policies, but Mac Owens should crawl back under the rock from whence he came.

Posted by: Anthony at December 7, 2005 9:02 AM

I have voted Republican for years but I will abstain before voting for Chaffee again. His father had principles.

Posted by: Jclancy at December 7, 2005 9:48 AM

Just an add-on to my earlier posting.

I think what really bothers me the most isn't what Mac Owens said, but the fact that he is a U.S. Naval War College professor. He should be stimulating debate and discussion rather than engaging in innuendo and name-calling, particularly when the person he is calling names helped secure funding for the Naval War College.

Is it really proper decorum for a Naval War College professor to call a United States Senator a "spineless disgrace"? Is this what we can expect from someone who is supposed to be teaching the leaders of our nation's military? Perhaps the next time, Chafee is asked to help the Naval War College or attend one of their functions, he should be addressed as Spineless Disgrace Chafee rather than Senator Chafee.

Rather than crawl under a rock, maybe Mac should just get a job in the private sector. That's one way to reduce government spending.

Mr. Owens is entitled to say what he believes, as was the Colorado college professor who equated the 9/11 victims to Nazis. I guess I just find it disappointing.

Posted by: Anthony at December 7, 2005 10:22 AM

JClancy, just for future reference the last name of the guy who you say you've been voting for all these years (but aren't voting for anymore) is spelled Chafee, not Chaffee.

Posted by: Anthony at December 7, 2005 10:30 AM


Regarding the verification comment, there is a difference when someone puts his full name and reputation behind a second-hand story and when an anonymous commenter repeats gossip that could possibly lead to charges of libel against the host of the forum. I'm sure you know what I'm referring to.

Additionally, Mac's friend would be considered a secondary source in academic work and such usage is entirely within the bounds of responsible scholarship. Whether it is the same in journalism, I don't know, but I would imagine the bounds of acceptable practice are similar.

Finally, I've included a substantive portion of your comments regarding both your (presumably) first hand account of Sen. Chafee's reaction to 9/11 and your opinion of Mac Owen's actions during his speech in the body of the main post.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at December 7, 2005 11:24 AM

Marc, I appreciate you posting the comment and look forward to Mac's response. I'm assuming you were refering to comments made about AG Lynch at around the time former State Democrat Chair Dufault made his loathsome comments about Carcieri(?). I suppose there is a fine line between gossip and commonly held knowledge depending upon what circles you run in, but I don't think anyone would want or expect you to expose yourself to libel.

For the record, my comments on Chafee's reaction were based on the response I saw at the time via TV, radio, newspaper. I was obviously not there when Mac's reporter friend asked the question, but I along, with several thousand Rhode Islanders saw Chafee's response after 9/11. The mere fact that I saw Chafee's response on the air and in the paper shows that at least two reporters were able to get Chafee to talk after 9/11 (or else I never would have seen/heard his response!).

This certainly does not prove or disprove Mac's assertion that that Chafee refused to give his 'liberal reporter friend' a quote. Nor does it defend Chafee's response, which was more dovish than it should have been given what had happened.

It's simply that Mac's comments gave the impression that Chafee didn't respond at all to the attacks (and implicitly didn't care about them) while I, along with every Rhode Islander who watched Channel 10's coverage or read the Projo's coverage of the attacks, know this to be incorrect.

Posted by: Anthony at December 7, 2005 1:36 PM

Anthony, You are correct regarding Dufault, etc. And Mac's response is up.

Posted by: Marc at December 7, 2005 1:50 PM