September 7, 2006

Recapping Chafee/Laffey 2006

Marc Comtois

A long time ago (November of 2004, or so), we at Anchor Rising started talking about whether or not Senator Chafee would be facing any real opposition in 2006. Part of this was out of a desire to see another Republican who, as Justin Katz wrote, didn't hem and haw so much. I wanted someone who would be a little more, well, serious, and willing to take a principled, conservative stance — including supporting a President of his own party on key issues — every now and then. And we weren't just talking about his opposition to the Iraq War or tax policy. Even on secondary issues, he could be aggravating. Case in point: His very "democratic" opposition to the Electoral College, which I took him to task for, as did Justin. At the same time, I wondered if the RI GOP would become more effective, and Justin reported that change was indeed afoot with Steve Laffey as one of the agents.

Thus, lo' and behold, the waters began to roil, and the seas began to change (as metaphors begin to mix), and talk of real opponents for the good Senator began to percolate. Rep. James Langevin was an early favorite and was mentioned at National Review. This inspired Justin to wonder if it might be worth it to "clear the decks" by voting for anybody but Chafee (well, except Patrick K.). Of course, I had to add my 2 cents and discussed a variety of "what if?" scenarios centered around the speculation that Langevin would oppose Chafee. And then, in the back of the room, Mayor Laffey began raising his hand.

While the postulations about his potential primary opponents were coming to the fore, Senator Chafee opposed the Bush Administrations "Clear Skies" initiative (and offered his own), explained why tax increases lay at the heart of his Social Security reform measures, and also displayed his deliberative dutifulness by see-sawing around the first nomination of John Bolton as UN Ambassador (and he's doing it again) and standing up as the lone Republican to vote against Priscilla Owen to the Court of Appeals. All of this inspired Mac Owens to pen the Senator a letter.

Meanwhile, back here in Rhode Island, Mayor Laffey was hosting a radio show and talking to the likes of the East Greenwich School Committee about the nature of contract talks with teachers. He was also causing me some concern about his conservative credentials with his acceptance of the Mexican and Guatemalen Matricula Consular identification cards. Amidst all of this, a "Draft Laffey" movement erupted and elicited comment from national pundit Hugh Hewitt. I opined that I thought the movement had less to do with the viability of Laffey as a Senate candidate than with a general dislike for Chafee and also went on record as saying I distrusted the "cult of personality" that seemed to surround the Mayor.

Andrew Morse explained the unsuccessful efforts made by the RI GOP to convince Steve Laffey to run for a state-level office and not the U.S. Senate. Andrew also wondered "what strings [were] attached" (all for Chafee?) to an early $500,000 donation to the state GOP from the national party.

Don Hawthorne then offered his own "Reflections on Chafee, Laffey, Party Politics & the Future of Rhode Island," in which he dismissed Chafee ("What is the big deal if Senator Chafee loses in 2006?") and suggested that Mayor Laffey could put his talents to better use by running for a statewide office — like Treasurer — and thus help rebuild the Republican party in Rhode Island. But Mayor Laffey decided to run for the Senate anyway, and Senator Chafee said that he'd "take great satisfaction in ending" Mayor Laffey's political career. And the gloves were off!!!

With the Laffey/Chafee race off and running, I expressed a hope that the Laffey campaign could help lead to reform within the RI GOP. (Now I have a few doubts.) Don also weighed in and explained that, while most recognized that Senator Chafee was a lost cause to conservatives, Mayor Laffey's conservative bona fides needed a little vetting as his views on healthcare and energy demonstrated political opportunism over a principled, conservative vision.

Senator Chafee realized he couldn't appeal to the the GOP base in Rhode Island (yes, even in Rhode Island, it's conservative) and actively sought to woo Democrats (as "Independents") into the GOP primary, with the help of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. At this point, I tried to sum up where the Laffey/Chafee race stood. (And after re-reading that post, not much has changed in a year!) I also delved into the difference between ideological and political motivation in electoral politics.

In December, as the National Republican Senatorial Committee explained why non-Republicans were the key to electing Chafee, Mayor Laffey garnered the support of the Club for Growth. It was also revealed that Mayor Laffey had donated to Democrats in the past and that he had a penchant for pixelization. Justin was critical of the sophomoric mindset that resulted in Laffey's pixel problem and then felt it necessary to clarify to the "you're either with 'em or agin 'em" crowd that criticism of a candidate didn't equate to non-support. Additionally, Mayor Laffey clarified that, just like Senator Chafee, he was opposed to drilling in ANWR. Thus, they do, in fact, agree on something.

The new year brought a ratcheting up of Mayor Laffey's War on "Pork" and more deliberate deliberation from Senator Chafee, this time on the confirmation of now-Justice Alito. After everyone else had voted, he was the sole Republican to say "No"; Laffey said he would have said "Yes," and I discussed why this vote showed that Senator Chafee wasn't even a Moderate Republican and that I simply couldn't support him. Then National Review endorsed Laffey and the Chafee camp responded.

This spring brought polls (too many to link to!), anti-Laffey ads, anti-Chafee ads, and more tete-a-tete.

Senator Chafee was environmentally consistent in supporting the Cape Wind Project (as did Laffey — hey, that's two things they agree on). Chafee also voted against pork (yes, really) in the Senate and voted against allowing Hawaii to set up a racially based government. For his part, Mayor Laffey offered up his own school choice program and a tax plan. Both candidates also revealed their differences over their policies toward Israel and immigration reform.

In June, Justin braved the RI GOP convention and managed (barely) to stay awake as Senator Chafee was officially endorsed while Mayor Laffey stayed away. Andrew dissected the Laffey and Chafee approaches toward immigration (1, 2, 3). And Senator Chafee continued to pound on the central point of his entire Senate campaign: Laffey can't beat Whitehouse. This prompted me to ask if conservative and moderate Republicans (and independents) could unite after this tendentious GOP primary to keep Sheldon "Picnic" Whitehouse out of the Senate.

Later in the summer, a debate schedule was announced, and our own Aggregatin' Andrew produced recaps of 'em all.

Debate number 1 was held on the Arlene Violet Show, and Andrew summarized the opening statements and the candidate's views on illegal immigration, war and the Middle East, a cross-examination, taxes and spending, and a few other matters. Then Andrew followed up on the ProJo's post-debate follow-up and then followed up again.

Debate 2 was on the Dan Yorke Show (audio here: 1, 2, 3, 4), and Andrew posted on Politics and Punditry, the Ad-Wars (1 & 2), and Issues.

For Debate 3, which was sponsored by WPRI (debate transcript is here) and broadcast nationally on C-SPAN (debate video as well as candidate ads can be found here), Andrew offered an open forum as well as some summaries on the budget, immigration and foreign policy. I also offered my own post-debate thoughts.

Then a little dirty pool was played when some of Mayor Laffey's college writings mysteriously found their way into the lap of the ProJo, and Justin sought some clarification from the Mayor.

Finally, WJAR sponsored Debate 4 (Part 1, Part 2, and Bill Rappleye's Recap found here), and Andrew posted an open thread and summaries of the lightning round and the three panel portions of the debate (1, 2, 3).

Senator Chafee and the NRSC got into hot water over a pro-Chafee commercial that included imagery of Hispanic illegal (purportedly) immigrants that seemed to saddle them with being a threat to national security. The ad was pulled (eventually), after (as the ProJo noted) the ad had run its predetermined course.

With two weeks to go before the primary, Don concluded that neither Chafee nor Laffey had measured up to the "political greatness" test. On the other hand, Justin's early doubts about Mayor Laffey's demeanor seem to have been allayed by the Mayor's debate performances.

With a week to go, both Chafee and Laffey have received national exposure while negative ads are dominating the airwaves and polls give us no hint as to who will emerge victorious. For that, we'll have to wait 'til Tuesday.

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.

-For that, we'll have to wait 'til Tuesday.-

No need to wait. I will tell you the winner of Laugheys sociopathic campaign-HARRY REID. Bought and paid for by the Club For Growth (Of A Democrat Majority).

Posted by: Mike at September 7, 2006 10:00 AM

Anybody that votes for Laffey is stupid! Your voting for a Democratic majority in the Senate. We already have a Democrat in Chafee already. hehe.

Posted by: Rino Cooke at September 7, 2006 11:07 AM

"We already have a Democrat in Chafee already."

Yeah, and I don't vote for Dems. I'd rather my vote go towards giving the Dems control than go towards supporting the perversion of our party's principles by hacks like Chafee.

Posted by: Greg at September 7, 2006 11:16 AM

If control of the Senate boils down to who wins the RI Senate election, then the only way for the GOP to remain in control of the Senate is for Steve Laffey to win. If Lincoln Chafee is the 50th Republican in the Senate, he will surely switch to the Democrats in return for a chairmanship. The ranking Democrat on Environment and Public Works, Jumpin' Jim Jeffords, is retiring, and the Democrats would be able to gain an illegitimate Senate majority twice in 6 years by dangling the same second-tier chairmanship before a RINO.

But it would be extremely unlikely for the Democrats to draw the inside straight they need to get to 50 Senators, and the most likely result of a Chafee reelection is that he will be the 53rd Republican in the Senate, and that his presence with an R next to his name on committees and subcommittees will actually give voting control of such committees and subcommittees to the Democrats.

It would be self-defeating for Republicans to vote for Lincoln Chafee in Tuesday's primary.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at September 7, 2006 12:00 PM

I wonder if Linc would vote to give the President the authority he needs for the war tribunals. And more importantly, would he tell us before the primary what he's going to do or will he again be the 99th senator to make up his mind and once again make himself irrelevant.

Posted by: Greg at September 7, 2006 1:27 PM

Anybody gotten a polling call from an outfit called Common Sense 2006 about the Senate race today?

Posted by: Rhody at September 7, 2006 2:41 PM

Once again I wish to speak for Senator Chafee as a principled Senator who tries to do what is right for the state and country, even at some risk to his career as it not always appreciated by party loyalists.
As for being a "Republican," as I see it, Linc Chafee is very much a traditional Republican, with a strong interest in ethics in government, civility, conservation (not only going back to Teddy Roosevelt, but also the tradition of RI Republicans to be cautious about pell-mell development while the Dems generally support construction jobs at any price) fiscal responsibility (as opposed to tax cuts that leave a huge deficit for future generations to pay off), avoidance of unnecessary foreign entanglements, support for public higher education (from Abraham Lincoln who signed the original land grant act to Rockefeller who built the state university of NY, to John Chafee who helped make URI, RIC truly professional schools as opposed to patronage backwaters), minimal government intrusion in science and in our bedrooms. While those that want to simply cut taxes regardless of what happens to the homeless, education, national parks, science, health care etc have a right to make over the Republican party to do that, it doesn't mean those (like Linc Chafee) who see the tradition differently are not "true Republicans."
I for one am less interested in tax cuts than in seeing government programs run more efficiently and effectively, rather than with the widespread cronyism, insider deals, giveaways, and lack of incentives for excellence that the RI Democratic has generally given us.

Posted by: Barry at September 7, 2006 3:11 PM

Thank you Barry for that lovely transcription of the "Save Chafee" mailer.

Posted by: Greg at September 7, 2006 3:37 PM

Barry -

How about "traditional Republican values" as expressed by the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution?

It is not generally known - for the lefties running the schools have succeeded in re-writing history (the victor gets to write the history) - but FDR conducted a de facto coup against the U.S. Constitution, and thus against the United States. (While this may well strike you as hyperbole or the ranting of a “right wing nut” – read the history on this – and the text of the Constitution - then decide for yourself.)

After losing a couple of big cases declaring “New Deal” programs as unconstitutional (exceeding the federal branches authority under the Constitution), FDR attempted to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court ("packing the Court") so that he could appoint a majority that would rule his way.

This attempt at packing was too much even for FDR’s own Democratic Party. But thus threatened, the Supreme Court reversed itself and began to accede to absurdly expansive readings of the (interstate) Commerce Clause – totally at variance with how the Constitution was interpreted in its first 150-ish years - effectively creating a loophole for FDR to impose the New Deal. Since then, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution has been ignored (for most of the New Deal / Great Society would not pass Constitutional muster if the Tenth Amendment was enforced).

Funny, the First Amendment is deemed that it should be construed expansively – protecting pornography and such; and post-FDR the Commerce Clause (authorizing Congress to regulate “commerce between the states”) has been interpreted so expansively that Congress can enact myriad welfare programs under the guise of “regulating interstate commerce” … yet the Second Amendment enumerated right “to keep and bear arms” is interpreted very restrictively, and the Tenth Amendment reserving to the States all powers not specifically granted the federal government is ignored.

This is why the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court is so critical. The Constitution is essentially nothing more or less than a contract – one between the citizens and the federal government. Basic contract law is that a contract is to be construed to enforce the original intent of its makers – first by looking at the plain language on the “four corners” of the document itself, and if there is some ambiguity, then (as best as possible) gleaning the original intent of those who made it.

Thus we can have a Court that interprets the Constitution the way it is plainly written (or applying the spirit and intent of it by consulting the writings of the Founding Fathers that drafted it). Or we can have a “liberal” FDR Court that does not see it as the contract it is, but as a “living document” that means nothing but what they say it does at that moment, thus providing cover for imposing whatever liberal cause du jour is before it.

This is why having a Senate made up of true Republicans – those who will support judges who in turn will support the U.S. Constitution – is so critical and comports with “traditional Republican values.” Lincoln Chafee does not qualify as a “traditional Republican” in any sense of the phrase.

Posted by: Tom W at September 7, 2006 4:12 PM

To the RINO's and Chafee apologists, I have some news: Chafee's loss, even (eventually) to Whitehouse, will not mean that Harry Reid will be the winner. Even the liberal MSM is predicting the Senate will stay Republican, at least by the majority of a few.

No, it will be good to say farewell to this guy, who even today, screwed up the Bolton nomination.

What's worse, a Republican that embarrasses his own and ends up voting with the Dems, or an outright Dem? I think the former is worse.

But no need to fear, Laffey will win next Tuesday. And will likely beat Whitehouse.

Posted by: Chuck at September 7, 2006 8:42 PM

Dear Tom W,

Madison constructed the 9th Amendment purposely to captures Rights that may not make it into the "Bill of Rights". Therefore, the number one author of the document you so obviously misunderstand wanted it to be living and breathing.

By the way, am I the representative of the Illuminati or the Council on Foriegn Relations? Maybe, just maybe, I'm a Bilderberger or, even worse, a Tri-Lat.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 8, 2006 12:10 AM

Actually, if the Senate does go Democratic, it probably won't be by one vote! We'll probably stay just about the same, or lose a ton of seats in November. A lot can change in two months. I don't think there is likely to be a lot of room in between. Chafee has made himself worth losing. Keep Chafee? More like Keep Chafee Far Away. Lose Chafee. Bye, bye.

PS I don't consider what effect this may or may not have on Sen. Reid from Nevada. Actually, I think that there is a very strong chance that Hillary Clinton will run and become Majority Leader, if the Democrats take control of the Senate (and maybe Minority Leader, if they don't). Chafee is just so bad for our party, that even that prospect won't scare me into voting for him! In the paraphrased words from Apollo 13: "Chafee, we've got a problem!" It's time to jetison this one into deep space.

Posted by: Will at September 8, 2006 2:15 AM

>>Madison constructed the 9th Amendment purposely to captures Rights that may not make it into the "Bill of Rights". Therefore, the number one author of the document you so obviously misunderstand wanted it to be living and breathing.

"Living and breathing" is why they included an AMENDMENT process - think about it, if it was intended to be "living and breathing" based upon the then-current ideological composition of the Supreme Court, we'd effectively have founded a government of nine kings! The Founders knew better than to do that ...

The philosophical basis of the Constitution is the EACH human being (not a "collective") has inalienable rights - and that the presumption is that any "right" is presumed to be held by that individual.

The Constitution ("contract" between the governed and its government) is that certain of those rights are delegated to the government in order to promote a civil society. Similar to the 10th Amendment in regard to States, all rights not specifically granted the federal government are reserved to each individual.

The 9th Amendment merely makes that concept clear, should there be any misunderstanding by "living document" proponents who believe (or want to believe) that rights are granted by the government to the people.

Posted by: Tom W at September 8, 2006 10:06 AM

Dear Tom W,

Your analysis has one small problem: Madison disagrees with it. I suppose it's one thing if I disagree with you; however, it is quite another with the author disagrees with you.

Nothing in the Federalist papers, or any other Madison writing , supports your positio. I'm not surprised. You gave up the genesis of your positions when you told us about FDR.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 8, 2006 10:34 AM

>> Your analysis has one small problem: Madison disagrees with it. I suppose it's one thing if I disagree with you; however, it is quite another with the author disagrees with you. Nothing in the Federalist papers, or any other Madison writing , supports your positio. I'm not surprised. You gave up the genesis of your positions when you told us about FDR.

Bobby, I hate to burst the bubble of your liberal religion with FACTS, but such is life here in the real world - try this for a quick little intro on Madison, the Bill of Rights, and the 9th:

"It has been said that in the federal government they are unnecessary, because the powers are enumerated, and it follows that all that are not granted by the constitution are retained: that the constitution is a bill of powers, the great residuum being the rights of the people; and therefore a bill of rights cannot be so necessary as if the residuum was thrown into the hands of the government. I admit that these arguments are not entirely without foundation; but they are not conclusive to the extent which has been supposed. It is true the powers of the general government are circumscribed; they are directed to particular objects; but even if government keeps within those limits, it has certain discretionary powers with respect to the means, which may admit of abuse to a certain extent … It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution." James Madison Proposed Amendments to the Constitution, June 8, 1789

And as for FDR packing the courts, try these for a quick intro:

Posted by: Tom W at September 8, 2006 11:29 AM

Bobby, you are dead wrong about the 9th Amendment. Madison did not write it to allow the Supreme Court to add "rights" to the Constitution, he wrote it so that the Bill of Rights were not interpreted following the hermeneutical maxim "expressio unius est exclusio alterius," which would have, for example, meant that since the 4th Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches of persons, houses, papers and effects but does not specifically mention offices or vehicles that it wouldn't apply to searches of offices or vehicles. Liberals and conservatives alike agree with this interpretation of the history of the 9th Amendment:

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated as follows in Gibson v. Matthews, 926 F.2d 532, 537 (6th Cir. 1991):

"[T]he ninth amendment does not confer substantive rights in addition to those conferred by other portions of our governing law. The ninth amendment was added to the Bill of Rights to ensure that the maxim expressio unius est exclusio alterius would not be used at a later time to deny fundamental rights merely because they were not specifically enumerated in the Constitution."

The U.S. Supreme Court has explained as follows, in United Public Workers v. Mitchell (1947):

"If granted power is found, necessarily the objection of invasion of those rights, reserved by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, must fail."

As Justice Douglas once put it, "The Ninth Amendment obviously does not create federally enforceable rights." See Doe v. Bolton (1973). And Justice Scalia expressed the same view, in Troxel v. Granville (2000):

"The Declaration of not a legal prescription conferring powers upon the courts; and the Constitution’s refusal to 'deny or disparage' other rights is far removed from affirming any one of them, and even farther removed from authorizing judges to identify what they might be, and to enforce the judges’ list against laws duly enacted by the people."

Professor Laurence Tribe shares this view: "It is a common error, but an error nonetheless, to talk of 'ninth amendment rights.' The ninth amendment is not a source of rights as such; it is simply a rule about how to read the Constitution." See Laurence H. Tribe, American Constitutional Law 776 n. 14 (2nd ed. 1998).

This is similar to the view of Justice Goldberg (joined by Chief Justice Warren and Justice Brennan), in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), although Goldberg viewed the Ninth Amendment as relevant to the scope of Fourteenth Amendment rights:

"[T]he Framers did not intend that the first eight amendments be construed to exhaust the basic and fundamental rights.... I do not mean to imply that the .... Ninth Amendment constitutes an independent source of rights protected from infringement by either the States or the Federal Government....While the Ninth Amendment - and indeed the entire Bill of Rights - originally concerned restrictions upon federal power, the subsequently enacted Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the States as well from abridging fundamental personal liberties. And, the Ninth Amendment, in indicating that not all such liberties are specifically mentioned in the first eight amendments, is surely relevant in showing the existence of other fundamental personal rights, now protected from state, as well as federal, infringement."

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at September 8, 2006 11:56 AM

Dear Republican,

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to do some research. I realy appreciate your effort.

However, your comments do not address any of Madison's writings or speeches before the Congress. I can also quote just as many cases, or sections of opinions from the same cases, which would illustrate the opposite point.

Before I do that, I would like to know what the Blog thinks. Technically, this dicussion was never supposed to be about interpretations of the 9th Amendment, and thereby requires a small discussion of the role of the 10th, and I'd hate to move that far away from the original topic without some consensus or a blog moderator introducing the 9th/10th discussion as an entirely new topic.

I would argue at this point that the vaugeness of the 9th, and to some point the 2nd, somewhat makes my point. Therefore, if the moderators or the consumers of the Blog would like to see this progress, they should make it known.

Fellow bloggers and moderators, what say ye??

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at September 8, 2006 6:43 PM