January 31, 2006

Where Senator Chafee has Gone "Off the Reservation"

Marc Comtois

In addition to being the only Republican Senator to vote against the confirmation of now-Justice Alito, Senator Chafee has opposed President Bush and--more often--conservative ideals on the following substantive matters. (All links are to data provided by ProjectVoteSmart. An index of Sen. Chafee's complete voting record is here).

Presidential Appointments:

Voted against nomination of Judge Priscilla Owen.
Voted against nomination of Judge William Pryor.

Domestic Issues:

Voted against cloture on debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment Bill in 2004, thus upholding a filibuster.
Voted against the provision that allowed for opening up ANWR to oil exploration and drilling.
Voted against the Firearms Manufacturers Protection bill that limited civil liabilities against gun makers--twice.
Voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act 2004 that would have made it a criminal offense if a "fetus" is injured or killed while carrying out a violent crime on a pregnant woman.
Voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (thus supporting the President).

Foreign Policy:

Voted against the use of military force against Iraq.
Voted for an attempt to make members of the US Military subject to the International Criminal Court.
Voted against an amendment that prohibits any employee of the Federal government from holding a security clearance for access to classified information if they disclose such information to unauthorized persons (say, to the NY Times).

Finally, of course, he voted against the President in the 2004 election.

To be fair, there are many important issues in which Sen. Chafee has been in line with many conservatives or the President. For instance, there can be little doubt that he's a free-trader. However, as can be seen, on substantive issues he is just as likely to bolt the President as he is to join him.

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.

Marc, it seems that you post this list of votes to make an implicit point that Chafee has acted as an obstructionist to the Republican party's agenda. This is short sighted. Look, you can create a list like this for any Senator, and it's unrealistic for you to expect a Jeff Sessions coming out of Rhode Island.

The real obstructionists here are the Democrats. It's the Democrats who filibustered our judges. It's the Democrats who have halted Senate business for political gain. And it's the Democrats who are salivating at the opportunity to erode our majority in the Senate by taking Chafee's seat!

Look, Chafee may not be Jeff Sessions or Saxby Chambliss. But he is honest with his constituents, doesn't play politics, and generally supports everything that we're about (80% of the time, to be precise). It's the best you can realistically ask for from a state as liberal as Rhode Island.

I was a bit offended by a comment made earlier on this blog about any students who support Chafee being Democrats. I am a student, quite conservative, as Republican as they come, and I believe that you're barking up the wrong tree criticizing Chafee's Senate record in this way. It would serve you well to look at Chafee's role in the national context: his record shows that he supports the President 80% of the time. One cannot say that he has hurt the issues that you and I are so passionate about. In fact, I think we can agree that he has advanced them.

Posted by: rich at January 31, 2006 8:19 PM

Irrelevant & Unpredictable

Besides being irrelevant on the Alito vote (probably one of the most important decisions a sitting Senator can make due to the lifetime tenure of SC Justices) Chafee is also unpredictable.

I have been reading many of the posts here and elsewhere and not even the most well positioned and knowledgeable experts could predict how he would vote.

Think about how scary that really is.

How can any Rhode Islander vote for Chafee to represent them when he doesn't even know how he might vote on any given critical issue.

Pedigree doesn’t cut it. This guy has got to go.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at January 31, 2006 8:25 PM

an unpredictable republican of any flavor is less scary to me than any democrat.

if chafee goes, who are you going to replace him with? some hothead, ambitious, do-whatever's-politically-expedient harvard millionaire who wants you to feel sorry for him because he grew up in a broken home? you really think that's going to fly with rhode island voters?

Posted by: sj at January 31, 2006 8:33 PM

Good post Marc, and more lame excuses from the Chafee interns. On the big issues, he votes with the liberals....this 80% figure, which is nonsense, is a bunch of uncontested or nearly uncontested votes. Go look it up, last year a number of Democrats voted more often with Bush than Chafee, and many others were very close in their level of support to Chafee's. Chafee is by FAR the least supportive Republican in the Senate. The only Senate Republican to want to eliminate all the Bush tax cuts, vote against the war, oppose Alito, and not vote for the President. He nearly voted against Bolton, which would have been terrible because he is on the Foreign Relations Com. taking up a Repub seat, and would have deadlocked the committee.

This guy is a political transvestite, and hasn't come out of the closet and say he is a Demo. Someday he will, he almost became an independent in 2001 and 2004.

Dump him because he always dumps on us. ...I got a red truck filled with his liberal junk votes that he is dumped on us Republicans for years. I can see Marc has been at my junkyard...there is alot more, Marc.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 31, 2006 8:43 PM

nice try, writing off any chafee supporter as a "chafee intern," but I think you miss the point. you breezed right over my earlier question: who are you going to replace him with?

sure, some democrats might support the president more, probably because they want to keep their jobs. a democrat from rhode island wouldn't have that problem. the more relevant question is, how much does jack reed support the president? how much would whitehouse support the president? would whitehouse vote against his party in close votes?

Posted by: sj at January 31, 2006 10:01 PM

I'm watching the State of the Union. Listening to the President speak optimistically about economic growth and freedom for our Nation. Its a crying shame that in Rhode Island we do not have a single member of congress who supports those ideals.

Mr. sj, you don't know Rhode Islanders if you think we don't value hard work over getting it all handed to you (including a Senate seat).

The guys on the loading doc, me included, are rooting for Laffey because he's worked hard for everything he has achieved and because he wants us to be able to achieve the American Dream. If you can't see that, then either you haven't yet faced the realities of the real world because you are too young, or because you are a spoiled brat like your RINO candidate.

Posted by: Stretch Cunningham at January 31, 2006 10:06 PM

Since sj you are part of the Chafee crew, you know I have explained on this blog repeatedly utilizing various facts and analysises that Laffey can win in Nov. I will just repeat that there is a reasonable possibility that Laffey can win in Nov., and that Chafee can certainly lose in Nov. I would take the risk of voting for Laffey who votes with Republicans on the major issues, then maybe having Chafee win and then getting more of the same from Chafee....junk.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 31, 2006 10:36 PM

I must have blinked when Mr. Chafee was
on the aisle shaking the President's hand as a leader of the Party. I am sure Mr. Laffey will be on the Aisle in the not to distant future.

Posted by: ridesigner at January 31, 2006 10:40 PM

I've heard the lame excuse "at least we keep the seat Republican with Chafee" and I don't buy it. For one, I have watched people underestimate Laffey in the past. But also, for me, the question is simply this - Are you willing to accept mediocrity?

Well are you?

For me, I don't accept mediocrity in my business, I don't accept mediocrity for my children, I don't accept mediocrity in any aspect of my life, and I'm not about to start now by accepting a mediocre US Senator in Chafee. It's as simple as that.

I understand there are those who are willing to compromise their ideals and they are free to do so. I'm just not one of them.

Posted by: Jim at January 31, 2006 10:45 PM

I saw the state of the union address too and loved it.

look, I know as much as you do how important it is for the guys in charge in washington to work to help us to acheive the american dream.

our disagreement must be, then, about whether it's worth it to keep this seat in republican hands. do you think we can keep this seat in republican hands with laffey as the nominee?

Posted by: sj at January 31, 2006 10:46 PM

Chafee a political tranvestite. Good one, Fred. I didn't know junkmen knew about such things. I assume you mean that Chafee is a "pre-op" tranvestite, which means he is taking a heady supply of democratic hormones to prepare his system and looks for the full surgery to come later. I would define the full "sex change" surgery in his case to be the eventual switch of parties. He wont get the chance though. Laffey has thoroughly exposed this charade and his political career is now effectively over.

No reputable doctor will perform a sex change operation until the candidate passes a battery of psychological tests first. This is where I would be worried, if I were Chafee. There are severe egomania and narcissism issues here that would keep the test evaluators up at night.

The only reason he remains a Republican is for the publicity and spotlight opportunities it affords him. He obviously has no underlying political philosophy. It is all about what is in it for Lincoln. All he cares about is the office. The Senate is to him "a fascinating and intriguing institution". This is the best he could come up with for the first line of his re-election pitch.

He is disloyal to his national party, his state party, his voter base, and to his country. The evidence, in microcosm:

-introduces minimal legislation, none of it substantive; rarely speaks on the Senate floor; hates campaigning; shows distaste for meeting voters 1-on-1

-doesn't even bother to live in RI

-tells students their vote doesn't count

-corrupts the bedrock principles of our democracy by the infamous Bush Sr vote

-explicitly brags about being a Benedict Arnold

-cavorts with anti-US dictators such as Chavez

The list could go on-and-on.

Posted by: bountyhunter at January 31, 2006 11:42 PM

Thanks, bountyhunter, for giving us the rundown of the talking points provided you by the Laffey campaign. You can go on and on complaining about the man you're trying to oust, but let's be clear on a few other points, too:

- Laffey has positive ratings of 25-30% throughout the state

- Laffey endorsed a candidate for House Majority Leader, purely because of political ties to the Club for Growth. What business does a Rhode Island mayor have meddling in House affairs?

- Laffey is incapable of managing his own city, and has turned many of his own friends against him.

This man is incapable as a mayor, and is even more unfit to be Senator. Everyone knows he is unelectable, apparently you guys have such a hard time appreciating a pragmatic solution in Chafee that you would rather have a losing candidate, and give the seat to Democrats.

Posted by: slim at February 1, 2006 12:40 AM


You obviously need some counseling.

First of all your sophomoric remarks about a serious contender with a real record of fiscal responsibility, solid leadership skills, and the heart of a gladiator when it comes to fighting for the taxpayer is a sad commentary. You sound a lot like james; same bad spelling and poor communications skills.

As far as what will fly with RI voters, need I remind you of the two recent landslide victories Laffey worked for and received in Cranston? Did you forget or are you just so blindly loyal to Chafee that you just stoop to cheap shots below the belt instead of substantive and reasonable arguments.

Have your mother take a look and she will tell you... you’ve got venom stains on your diaper.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Party affiliation is a meaningless sham unless you actually line up with most of the platform. In that regard Chafee is a democrat and Laffey is a true republican. Read this thread: http://www.nrsc.org/newsdesk/document.aspx?ID=1359

If I had your mailing address I would ship you a case of Kleenex. Its crying time again.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at February 1, 2006 12:41 AM


"This man is incapable as a mayor, and is even more unfit to be Senator."

This common vitriol isn't even worthy of the Johnston landfill.

What the hay are you talking about? Why say stupid things like this? If you are trying to show your ineptitude, poor judgment, subhuman nature, and immaturity you have achieved a GPA of 4.0 at Moron U.

Slim… is what Chafee’s chances of winning in September are. I know you can’t stand that fact, and slandering Laffey only makes you weaker.


Posted by: Sol Venturi at February 1, 2006 1:03 AM

Slim -

You're welcome. Glad to be of service.

Now, let's move on. You better be prepared to explicitly back up that 25-30% figure with hard data not taken out of context; otherwise, serious-minded commentators (did I use the right word, Justin?)on this blog will have a field day with you. Second, your comment that "everyone knows he is unelectable" does not help to define you as a cogent thinker. Everyone? I can count four people already on this thread who are saying just the opposite. Liberal and extreme choices of words indicates fuzzy thinking.

Your other questionable word choices "unfit" and "incapable" have been adequately addressed in a prior post

Posted by: bountyhunter at February 1, 2006 1:58 AM

Excellent State of the Union address, I might say. I have to admit to loving the irony of Sam Alito, only hours after being sworn in, being in the same chamber with all those liberal Democrats, and of course, our own "marching band of one" Senator Lincoln Chafee.

Being "principled" isn't waiting until the last possible moment to make a decision, especially when you've made yourself irrelevant to the outcome. "Principled" would have been making a decision after the hearings had concluded, when you didn't know how the vote would turn out. Worst yet, it was a decision made using flawed logic. What Chafee wanted Alito to do is what no nominee for a court position should ever be asked and certainly never be expected to answer: how he plans to vote in cases that could come up before him. Ask about philosophy and temperment, and verify qualifications, but not ask how he plans to vote on your pet issues, should they come before him in the future. He is asking the judge to violate his oath of impartiality regarding cases that he may very well be asked to decide. To me, that is extremely unbecoming of a public official, especially one who should know better. If I didn't have so many other reasons not to vote for Chafee, that alone should be enough to cause me to look elsewhere.

PS, and as for Slim, say "hi" to Gary Reilly for me at the union hall. You are either young, naive, or ignorant -- certainly ignorant of the near miracle that has occured in Cranston over the past three years. Laffey has a record that anyone can be proud of. You can be proud of Chafee's record, if you love abortion on demand, higher taxes, and genocidal dictatorships.

Posted by: Will at February 1, 2006 3:17 AM

look, I know as much as you do how important it is for the guys in charge in washington to work to help us to acheive the american dream.

Holy cow, sj! That's the scariest sentence I've ever seen come out of someone claiming to be a Republican. The guys in Washington aren't "in charge" of much of anything and they mostly function to get between us and achieving our goals. If they'd stop helping me so much, I'd do very well for myself, thank you. That's why economies thrive after tax cuts: force Washington to give us some of our money back, and we'll do productive things with it.

Cripes. I think you gave me the hives.

Posted by: ballottra at February 1, 2006 6:18 AM

Slim and sj, The first thing you have to remember is that Anchor Rising is a conservative blog. Thus, we are more concerned over how candidates stand ideologically than how they stand within the GOP. The second thing is that--at least for me--I am more concerned with growing the conservative movement within the state than I am with keeping a RINO in national office. (Personally, I think the claims being made that Republicans are in danger of losing the Senate is hyperbolic fear-mongering on the part of the National Republican Senatorial Incumbent Protection Club).

It is a political reality that the home for conservatives is the GOP. Unfortunately, Sen. Chafee has shown time and again that he is comfortable being a liberal Republican and his position as the only Republican in our congressional delegation has given him considerable power within the State GOP--at least at the top. Thus, we have a RI GOP that is top-heavy with "pragmatists" who grin and bear it with Sen. Chafee because they feel they have no choice. But their willingness to accept whatever the Senator dishes out for the sake of having a seat at the national table is starving conservatives out of the RI GOP.

Eventually, the RI GOP--whether from the "bottom up" or the "top down"--has to make a decision: Continue being satisfied with the status quo and our "independent" Senator or rid the party of him once and for all.

Regardless of the ramifications on the national level.

It's all good to say that RI is a "liberal" state, but that doesn't mean we conservatives have to settle for a liberal within the party we currently call home. Besides, there is no guarantee that RI will always be "liberal" and we have been consigned to some permanent fate. In fact, one could argue its more "Democrat" than liberal. Believe it or not, RI used to be home to a major Republican Party machine! (But that's a post for another day).

Posted by: Marc Comtois at February 1, 2006 7:38 AM

sj, sorry I had to laugh. You know, we could do worse than if Chafee's replacement was a conservative, Harvard-educated, ambitious, self-made millionaire.

Neither Laffey nor Chafee are perfect, and I'd rather have someone with Laffey's beliefs in the U.S. Senate. For the moment, I'm still planning on voting for Chafee.

Issue-wise Chafee takes his Republican base for granted. On the other hand, he will campaign for other Republicans whether they agree with him or not.

Chafee votes with the President most of the time, but always seems to find a high-profile way to be on the other side on big votes.

You can go back and forth, but the reality is that Laffey is conservative, Chafee is not.

I know people who simply will not vote for any candidate who is pro-abortion. And you know what? I completely respect their position. For those people to be intellectually honest, they have to vote for Steve Laffey, regardless of Laffey's ego. Hmm, murder versus ego...tough choice...

I can also see how Laffey's temperment might cause some people to decide he is not quite the right fit for the "upper house" where collegiality is more the rule than in the House. Those people are certainly justified in voting for Chafee.

It really comes down to what each voter thinks is important.

I happen to be pro-life, but I try to look at how my individual vote affects the grand scheme of things (ie: does it help advance the GOP agenda). That's how I justify a vote for Chafee. Now if I thought Chafee's replacement could ACTUALLY BE a conservative, I think I'd have to re-evaluate.

On the flip side, Marc provides a decent explanation of why he would be willing to vote for Laffey even if it meant losing the Senate seat. That's his call and I respect it.

I've said this before. The ball is in Laffey court. His biggest hurdle with Republicans like myself is to show that he is electable in RI.

Having said all that, I think a substantial number of RI Republicans think like me. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that many of the people who control the purse strings at the RNC, NRSC, etc. think like me.

What does this mean? Chafee may take his Republican base for granted for the time being, but if Laffey closes the gap with Whitehouse and Brown, this becomes a whole new election.

Posted by: Anthony at February 2, 2006 12:04 AM

I generally agree with Anthony's assessment. I think that the "generally conservative, but pragmatic vote" could swing significantly to the Laffey camp, if he can convince (those who are able to be convinced) over the coming year that he is a candidate who has at least as much a shot of retaining the seat for Republicans, as does Chafee.

PS As for sj, let me remind you of a quote from 25 years ago that seems all to applicable to your "look, I know as much as you do how important it is for the guys in charge in washington to work to help us to acheive the american dream."

From President Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address - January 20, 1981:

"Government is not the solution to our problems, Government IS the problem!"

Posted by: Will at February 2, 2006 3:15 AM

This is an even better Ronald Reagan quote, which defines the American Dream, from his last debate with Jimmy Carter:

"The American Dream that we have nursed for so long in this country, and lately largely neglected, is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American Dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become."

PS And yes, I've memorized everything that Ronald Reagan has ever said. ;)

Posted by: Will at February 2, 2006 3:23 AM