January 30, 2006

Laffey's Quick Take on Chafee's Alito "NO"

Marc Comtois

On WPRO, Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey just said that he was "disappointed but not surprised" at Sen. Chafee's decision. He said that Sen. Chafee had made himself irrelevant to the process again and that RI won't be well-served by either Chafee's decision on this particular issue nor on Sen. Chafee's consistent inablilty to make a firm decision. When told that Sen. Chafee stated he opposed Alito because of his stance on abortion, the separation of church and state, and wiretapping, Mayor Laffey said that the Senator shouldn't make litmus tests part of his decision-making process. Laffey said, "that's wrong" and explained (I'm paraphrasing), "how would you like to get in front of a judge knowing he already has staked a position on an issue?" To Laffey, this "extremist" insistence on litmus tests is what is wrong with the process.

UPDATE:: The ProJo has more extensive coverage, here are the highlights:

Chafee said at a press conference this morning at his Providence office that he was "greatly concerned" about some of Alito's philosophies. In explaining his decision against the judge, the senator described himself as a "pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-Bill of Rights Republican."

Chafee noted that while Alito had "outstanding legal credentials," his philosophy on certain issues, including the commerce clause, executive power and women's reproductive rights, influenced his decision.

Chafee said that Alito's position on the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion seems different than the position taken by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., whom Chafee voted to confirm last year.

He said Roberts was willing to call Roe vs. Wade "settled law" during his nomination hearing, but Alito "refused to make a similar statement."

The senator had said during his 2000 campaign that he would not vote for a nominee who did not pledge to affirm Roe v. Wade.

"I'm very concerned about the slow eroding of women's reproductive freedom," Chafee said. . .

Chafee today also expressed concern that Alito's apparent position on the Constitution's commerce clause, allowing Congress to regulate commerce among states, could weaken environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act.

And he questioned Alito's stance on executive power as it relates to warrantless wiretaps and the Fourth Amendment, which protects against "unreasonable searches and seizures."

Chafee stated, "Judge Alito was also asked, '...Is it possible under your construct that an inherent Constitutional power of the president could, under some analysis or some case, override what people believe to be a Constitutional criminal statute?' Judge Alito responded that this was possible noting a 'possibility that might be justified.' "

Chafee said, "As Justice O'Connor wrote in a recent case, 'A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens.' "

Chafee said he did not make his final decision until Friday. He said he needed to take his time with a thorough analysis because it's a decision that the country will likely live with for many years since Alito is a young man.

In analyzing Alito's positions, Chafee said he was more concerned with the appeals court judge's decisions from the bench than what he wrote as a lawyer for "his client," the Reagan administration.

Still, he acknowledged, "It's so hard to predict" how a nominee will vote on the court.

Chafee, a former Warwick mayor and son of a former GOP U.S. senator and Rhode Island governor, has gained a reputation in the Senate as a maverick willing to buck the party leadership. Still, he said he wanted to support the president's nominee.

"Believe me, having been an executive in government, I want to support President Bush's choice to the Supreme Court," Chafee said. "The president did win the election. He has made his promises and I have made mine."

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This just made up my mind. I was on the fence between Laffey and Chafee. My views are more in line with Laffey, but I want to keep the seat Republican.

I don't care if Laffey has more trouble winning the general election. I can't bring myself to vote for Linc any more.

Posted by: RIConservative at January 30, 2006 12:09 PM

RIConservative: With more principled people like you on the team, Laffey will have no trouble in the General.

Posted by: roadrunner at January 30, 2006 12:47 PM

On the news of Sen. Chafee's NO on Alito position, I sent a contribution to Steve Laffey's campaign via his web site http://www.electlaffey.com/site/contribute.php. I sent a copy of that receipt to Sen. Elizabeth Dole, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Damn, that felt good.

Posted by: Michael Mudge at January 30, 2006 1:07 PM

I got a request for funds from the RNC (In the guise of a Census Document) the other day. I responded to them that they aren't getting a dime from me as long as the RNC is supporting a liberal in the primary.

Posted by: LargeBill at January 30, 2006 1:19 PM

I have been sending the missives from the RNC back sans check bith a letter explaining when they stop protecting RINO's (Linc, Arlen et al)I will give to the national organization again. Called Chafee's office on Friday reminding them Sept 12th (Primary Day)is closer than they think.

Posted by: cptham at January 30, 2006 1:19 PM

I have little doubt that Laffey will win the general election. He is a man overflowing with ideas, energy and integrity. His well-articulated positions on renewable energy and the environment are not only part and parcel of his longstanding ideology, but also planks that make him more-than-pallatable to moderates.

With Laffey, you get everything that Reagan offered plus the aforementioned environment and renewable energy kickers. Reagan won RI. Bush got 40% here. The Governor is Republican. Laffey has grown the Republican base exponentially. The logical inference is that Laffey should win handily.

It can be inferred from the futures contracts out of London that Laffey is now the odds-on favorite in the general election. Studies show that these contracts are far more accurate predictors than polls - knowledgeable people are risking their own money rather than merely talking to a pollster on the phone!

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 30, 2006 1:19 PM

Now that we have bountiful insight into the beyond-quirky and highly-muddled thought process of Linc Chafee, it becomes obvious that he is unfit to run for national office as a Republican, Independent, Green, Consumer, or anything else. I do not say this in a vengeful or mean-spirited way, but he is just not mentally fit enough.

It seems to me that Chafee suffers from severe egomania, but the disorder is manifest in a more subtle manner. He has a pathological need for attention. Rather than quenching this desire by meeting voters, making speeches, exerting leadership, taking strong stands, or displaying even an ounce of charisma - he gets the attention by pulling stunts and antics such as this unfathomable delay on Alito and the now-infamous vote for Bush Sr. There are many other examples I won't bore you with now. The pattern is now crystal clear to me.

The day will soon arrive when all talk of this Chafee embarassment will be confined to the realm of Psychology Today rather than to national politics. I don't use this word embarassment lightly. His write-in vote charade was an embarassment on a worldwide scale and ran completely counter to what our democratic republic stands for.

This guy wants your vote for Senator while his own voting actions serve to corrupt the entire process????

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 30, 2006 1:37 PM

I have become so bummed with the RNCC and especially the RNSC supporting RINOs, I will be reducing my contributions to those groups. Instead I will contribute to conservatives directly (and through the Club for Growth). I will send a check to Laffey, and I live in Southern California!

Posted by: Bruce McDonald at January 30, 2006 2:06 PM

I am from PA, and I just made a donation to the Laffey campaign. Lincoln must go!

Posted by: Grove Tee at January 30, 2006 2:12 PM

I am from PA, and I just made a donation to the Laffey campaign. Lincoln must go!

Posted by: Grove Tee at January 30, 2006 2:12 PM

Way to go Bruce and bounty hunter. Wonder where Anthony is on this one... ?

Posted by: Tim W at January 30, 2006 2:14 PM

I pity you guys in RI & PP. Mr. Chafee is good for humor however, check this animation out.. "When Lincoln met Alito"


Posted by: Brad at January 30, 2006 2:21 PM

Tim W., I'm very disappointed in Chafee's vote, not only from an idealogical perspective, but from a procedural perspective. The President has the right to choose his nominee to the Supreme Court. The Senate should only reject a nominee if the individual is not qualified. Alito is very well-qualified and Chafee should have voted for him.

Posted by: Anthony at January 30, 2006 2:40 PM

I hope the voters in R.I. and the Republican Party will give this RINO the boot this time around.

Posted by: Lil Abner at January 30, 2006 3:50 PM

So much for "not having a litmus test." Guess that rule only applies to conservatives, not to liberals like Chafee. By the way, I think the reason why we're getting so much out of state input here, is that I included a link to Anchor Rising on GOPUSA. It's definitely been getting hits today.

Anyway, I'm so tired of being served cow flop day after day. Not only do they want us to eat their cow flop, they want us to smile and say it tastes great, too! When is enough is enough?

Posted by: Will at January 30, 2006 4:28 PM

Will, Not to burst your bubble, but a mention on NROs The Corner may have a lot to do with it...

Thanks for the link, though!!!

Posted by: Marc Comtois at January 30, 2006 4:57 PM


That was a shot at Will.

Posted by: Fred on the Blog at January 30, 2006 6:55 PM

Tim W., just to add to my previous comment. I'm disappointed in Chafee, but understand that Alito wouldn't be on the bench without a Republican majority in the Senate. Laffey has to show me he can win a general election before I switch sides.

Posted by: Anthony at January 30, 2006 6:55 PM


The only way he can truly "show" you is by winning, which I feel strongly that he will do. By that time, the proverbial barn door will already be shut on your vote. Read my first post on this thread, which briefly outlines positive factors regarding Laffey's November chances. I am anxious to hear your contra-arguments, as your posts are generally highly-readable and well-reasoned.

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 30, 2006 7:51 PM


Do you think Chafee will stay Republican or turn Independent?

Posted by: ian at January 30, 2006 8:18 PM

Don't worry Fred, it was just a rubber bullet!

Posted by: Will at January 30, 2006 9:05 PM

bountyhunter, Laffey doesn't need to "prove" 100% that he can win--just show that he is in the ballpark. To me, that means demonstrating viability by showing that he is within single digits of Whitehouse and Brown in an independent general election poll.

I believe that Laffey can outwork either Whitehouse and Brown in the few weeks between the primary and general election, but he needs to show that the race is narrow enough that it can be closed within the matter of weeks.

Laffey also needs to address the questions surrounding his departure from Morgan Keegan. Everyone knows there is a cloud of suspicion. I'd like to know why. Even if it is as simple as having a personality conflict with other executives, it would help reassure Republicans that there is not an issue that might surface late in the election.

If Laffey were able to do that, there would be very few Republicans who would vote against him in the GOP primary. I also think the national GOP would begin to shift as well if they thought Laffey could actually win the general.

I think many bloggers here confuse supporting Chafee's candidacy with supporting Chafee's positions. Most Republicans aren't supporting Chafee because they agree with him. They're supporting him because, at this moment, he appears crucial to keep a Republican majority, DESPITE what he believes.

As it stands now, Alito will thankfully be appointed to the bench, over Chafee's objections. That's the only reason I can justify voting for Chafee. His opposition hasn't really impeded the Republican agenda. The Bush tax cuts went through and Alito made the bench.

Would have I preferred to have a Senator who supported Alito? Absolutely! I just don't want to hand the seat over to the Democrats.

If Laffey can address those two concerns, I would consider his abrasive and egotistical style a wash with Chafee's apparent case of attention-deficit disorder and idealogical drifting.

Posted by: Anthony at January 30, 2006 9:43 PM

I don't think there is a snowball's chance in heck that Chafee will go independent. He is alot like people in North Providence who always register as Democrats, but be more conservative than most Republicans.

Of course, I also predicted Chafee would vote for Alito, so it's not like I've got an inside line on it!

Posted by: Anthony at January 30, 2006 9:51 PM

Thanks, Anthony. Curious to hear your take!

Posted by: ian at January 30, 2006 9:54 PM

Anthony, first I want to apologize for saying you were a Chafee staffer. Obviously, you are not or you would not have predicted that Chafee would vote for Alito.

Now you set down two criteria to support Laffey. 1, Laffey must be within single digits in a poll. Well, according to West, who is a terrible pollster biased to Demos, Laffey was behind by 4 to Brown and 10 to Whitehouse. 2, Laffey needs to explain why he left Morgan Keegan. Laffey did explain this in 2002 mayoral race. It came up in debates. He even put on his website articles talking about when he left Morgan Keegan..even unfavorable ones about personality differences. There was simply a difference in the direction at the company because it had just gotten bought out. All his old bosses still contribute to him, look at the finance reports. There is nothing there. Maybe you can call the Laffey campaign and ask for any explanation. He explained to Cranston voters in 2002, and they voted for him in a close election.

So I guess when Laffey is behind by 9 points instead of 10 to Whitehouse in a West poll, you will put a Laffey sticker on your car?

Come on Anthony, aren't you tired of being taken for granted by Chafee. Take a risk with someone you can agree with, instead of sticking with someone who may bolt the party someday(almost did in the past), and doesn't vote with party on the big issues ever.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 30, 2006 10:39 PM

as a true conservative i am more concerned about keeping this seat.

the truth of the matter is that laffey has no chance in a general election. wake up we are in r.i.!!!

true republicans- who care about the party and keeping this seat will not let a principled decision by the senator change their mind about the reality of the situation.

chafee is a republican- perhaps a leader i do not agree with 100% of the time- but he is principled which is more than i can say for my mayor.

conservative from cranston

Posted by: conservative from cranston at January 30, 2006 10:56 PM

I send all of my mail from the RNC back with a letter that states "I am a real Rhode Island Republican and until you step up and recognize the real republican candidate for senate, I can no longer support your cause." I have not asked to be removed from the mailing list and still receive all of their mailings. They love to waste money!!!
I have also taken to calling The senator from Virgina's campaign office asking if I can make a reservation to have my horse re-shod in October. For some reason they don't want to sign on new work for the Dis-honorable Mr. Chafee in his new career.

Posted by: ridesiger at January 30, 2006 11:05 PM

Funny you should mention that, as I received a solicitation from the RNC in today's mail (they really picked a good day). I think I'm going to have some fun with it. Do you think they take rubles? ;)

As for the unprincipled hacks at the NRSC, I'm eagerly awaiting at my phone for your next poll!

Posted by: Will at January 31, 2006 1:10 AM

Anthony -

There is no smoking gun concerning the Morgan Keegan departure, if that is what you are worried about. If there was anything even remotely untoward, Garabedian would have certainly unearthed it in '02 when he was sitting on the Board of a public company (Nature's Bounty) and had loads of Wall Street contacts.

Laffey was an effective executive at Morgan Keegan, despite the ongoing efforts of the "old guard" there to thwart his modernization initiatives. Laffey and founder Al Morgan both recognized in the mid-to-late 1990s that the firm was losing its bulwark southern customer base to severe encroachment from the big New York investment banks. Changes had to be made.

Morgan Keegan (spearheaded by Laffey and Morgan) was indeed successful at reinventing itself while retaining its reputation for integrity and independence. Those who lost or who expected to lose some or all of their fiefdoms as a result of the firm's evolution were clearly not happy.

Naturally, these will be the Morgan Keegan people most vocal about Steve Laffey's alleged managerial deficiencies! Kind of like asking the crossing guards what they think of Laffey's executive abilities.

As the saying goes: "Follow the money". As Fred Sanford pointed out, many top Morgan Keegan executives support Laffey to this day with their dollars. People don't part with their money lightly. These actions speak volumes. It can be compared to looking at London futures contracts on the Senate race (which imply that Laffey will win the general)or believing West's polling. What is more believable - what some people may say or what others actually do??

Morgan Keegan today is a much stronger firm than it ever has been - due in no small part to Steve Laffey and Alan Morgan's bold leadership. The sale to RegionsBank, controversial at the time, proved to be a rock-solid strategic decision.

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 31, 2006 1:45 AM

bountyhunter, that is the first fairly reasonable explanation that I have heard about Laffey's departure.

All previous inquiries I've seen about Laffey's departure have just received a response of "look at the number of Morgan Keegan execs who have contributed to his campaign."

That is not a repsonse to the question and in giving that type of answer Laffey appears to be dodging the question. It gives the impression that he is hiding something.

If what you say is true, the next time Laffey is asked the question, he should respond in the manner that you just did. It may open him up to criticism that he can be difficult to get along with or confrontational, but Laffey has already established himself as such.

What voters will not accept is the possibilty that there was unethical behavior on Laffey's part. And rightly or wrongly, I think there is a feeling on the part of many Republican voters that this question hasn't been fully answered. This type of concern may lead to primary voters supporting Chafee (a known quantity who nobody denies is honest) unless Laffey can put it to rest.

Posted by: Anthony at January 31, 2006 12:09 PM