August 8, 2006

Charles Bakst on Special Interests

Carroll Andrew Morse

In writing about the upcoming Chafee-Laffey debate series in today's Projo, columnist Charles Bakst is dismissive of the idea that “special interest” influence is an issue worth discussing in a political campaign…

The long, dreary [Senate] campaign has featured a cacophonous series of monologues, charges, and countercharges, from the candidates and their out-of-state moneybag allies, as to whether Laffey has been a terrific Cranston mayor or a lousy one, and how well or poorly Chafee did as Warwick mayor -- a decade ago! -- and who is a captive of special interests and who will stand up to special interests (you decide what a special interest is)...
Yet several months ago, Bakst was clear that special interests existed, that they were a problem, and that our polity had to be vigilant against succumbing to their influence…
The voter initiative campaign being promoted by Governor Carcieri and a coalition of enthusiasts to give citizens the power to put laws or constitutional amendments on the ballot is unlikely to get anywhere.

Nor should it....It would open the way for referendum campaigns dominated by special interests and mean-spirited dialogue.

Sure, special interests play roles in the legislative arena. But it's still the place to thrash out legislative complexities and vent and absorb emotions.

So how come talking about the influence of special interests is legitimate in the context of a voter initiative drive, but dreary and cacophonous when discussed in the context of a Senate campaign?

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Bakst is liberal and will say what suits his needs at the time. End of Story.

Posted by: Anthony at August 8, 2006 3:07 PM

I'm getting a little tired of Bakst commenting on how handsome various public figures are in his articles.

Posted by: Henry Gondorff at August 8, 2006 3:18 PM

For once, I agree with Anthony.

Must be true then.


Posted by: don roach at August 8, 2006 5:15 PM

Ditto Don Roach re: Anthony.

And I too am tired of Bakst - in general. The Projo should start looking for new blood.

Posted by: Chuck Nevola at August 8, 2006 7:21 PM

Speaking of the need for new blood at the Journal, take a look at the Whitehouse story by Scott MacKay in the Journal today. MacKay was present at a press conference that Laffey had in November when Laffey came out with his plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Today, Mackay's article is a verbatim, point by point articulation of Laffey's plan.
You would think that MacKay would have the recollection, or a simple intellectual curiosity, to point out that all Whitehouse was talking about was all in Laffey's plan. This type of lazy reporting is getting quite tiresome. People like MacKay should be booted out and replaced with reporters who take their jobs seriously and are not simply going through the motions to collect a paycheck.

Posted by: Morgan at August 9, 2006 9:25 AM

Perhaps Shel did "borrow" heavily from the plan Laffey proposed last year. But we haven't heard Steverino speak much of it on the campaign trail - perhaps his fairy godfathers at Club for Growth didn't approve it.

Posted by: Rhody at August 9, 2006 11:09 AM


Are you serious??? The national energy policy is Laffey's number 1 issue! As far as I can tell, he talks about it anywhere he can. For example, when he was on "Newsmakers" with Steve Aveson, et al a few months ago, Aveson asked him at the end of the program "what's the first thing you'll do as a US Senator?" Laffey's response: "introduce my national energy policy."

Posted by: Leon Berg at August 9, 2006 11:31 AM

If Laffey was that committed to his energy policy, he'd have found a way to bring it up before the final "have we missed anything?" question.
But then again, the Laffey campaign hasn't really been about issues beyond a lot of general whining about how Chafee's allegedly too liberal.
P.S. Consider Bakst's dismissive attitude toward candidates who are underfunded or run outside the two major parties...Merrill isn't quite as liberal as y'all make him out to be.

Posted by: Rhody at August 10, 2006 12:44 AM