Lincoln Chafee May Pull Out Rhode Island Win


The McClatchy-MSNBC poll just released has Lincoln Chafee one point higher than Democratic challenger Sheldon Whitehouse in the Rhode Island senate race.
I am for the Dems winning everywhere else, practically, in the country other than this seat. As I’ve stated before, if Sheldon Whitehouse does win — I will be supportive and hope that he cuts the groove on judges and U.S. foreign policy that Lincoln Chafee has strongly demonstrated this year.
Chafee blocked John Bolton from being confirmed for US Ambassador to the United Nations and did his part to knock back the brand of “pugnacious nationalism” that has been dominating America’s foreign policy decisions for the last several years.
Chafee has also articulated exactly the kind of Middle East policy that any sensible Democratic or Republican administration would have to start with. Indeed, I think that the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group is going to read like a lot of cobbled together Lincoln Chafee speeches on the subject.
Lastly, Chafee voted against Sam Alito, something many Dems failed to do.
Chafee is a “radical centrist” and deserves credit for his leadership this year.
If the Senate race turns out 50/50, and if Chafee wins, Reid should begin secret negotiations immediately with Chafee to bring him into the Democratic caucus as an Independent. Offer Chaffee whatever he needs to make that happen. If Chafee wins it will be because of independent-leaining Democrats, independent-leaning Republicans, and Independents.
If Chafee loses the race, Biden, Lugar, Hagel, and Dodd should immediately agitate that Lincoln Chafee be made some sort of Senior Envoy for Middle East affairs — in order to establish a new equilibrium of interests in the region.
More later.

— Steve Clemons

PS: For those watching and listening Tuesday night, I will be among CNN‘s gaggle of political bloggers commenting on the elections. I will also be on BBC as well as the coverage of Brian Lehrer and WNYC New York Public Radio most of the night.


25 comments on “Lincoln Chafee May Pull Out Rhode Island Win

  1. Matt says:

    Being a liberal Rhode Island native, I can testify to the fact that this is an incredibly difficult decision for voters there. Chafee really is an honest-to-goodness good person with a voting record to prove it. But it’s ever so important for Democrats to get control of Congress… I’d imagine people in RI would really regret to see Chafee go, but he just might end being a strange victim of brutal circumstances.


  2. john o. says:

    The poll you cite appears to be an outlier Steve, thankfully. Despite his work on Bolton, Chafee needs to go, and it looks like he will.


  3. bob h says:

    You quote one poll out of several recent whose average suggests Chaffee is still down (see Kos today). I am sure Chaffee’s fine qualities will be reproduced in Whitehouse.


  4. Marcia says:

    It is possible. He may win, The Republicans may win, perhaps not win but control the electoral process and declare themselves winners, but if they do you may well be dispensed with worrying about the 2008 elections.
    If you put your chips on Baker-Hamilton and Chafee I fear for those who have children. With the administration’s project close the borders, and if it is, “full speed ahead on the war,” the round-up will be easy.
    I think there remains only this one last chance to save what can still be salvaged.


  5. kim says:

    Where was Chafee’s backbone during the committee hearings on Bolton about a year ago?
    Things are so rotten now, that I cannot support any Republican for any federal elected office.
    We must stop this madness.


  6. johnny d says:

    Chafee is a “radical centrist”? wtf is that? Chafee has demonstrated considerbale leadership? Are you chanelling David Broder? This is all BS fantasy talk. Chafee does not, has not, and will not represent progressive interests or American interests better than Whitehouse. He’s still a Republican; he will still vote for Mitch McConnell, and his positioning of himself as an independent with a handful of stances and votes is empty symbolism.
    And now you say Alexander and Voinovich are reasonable. Think again.


  7. jf says:

    If a Republican has to win, I’d want it to be Chaffee, but I hope he loses and doesn’t feel bad about it.


  8. marky says:

    Again, go to TPM for covering of various kinds of illegal robo-calling.
    It’s just horrible.
    Anyone who votes for or endorses a Republican candidate for national election this fall is putting a seal of approval on the GOP’s tactics of voter intimidation, voter suppression, fraudulent robo-calling. Any such person endorses a gang of criminals.
    Not that you care, Steve, but if you keep your endorsement of Chaffee, you have completely lost my confidence in your judgment as well as your ethics. Allowing hope in “radical centrism” (what an oxymoron, btw) to give a base of support for Chaffee is just narcissistic, self-serving pap.
    Sorry, but that’s the way I see it.
    Removing the Republicans from control of Congress is essential to restoring democracy to this country. Keeping the “radical center” alive is not even possible without cleaning house first.


  9. bakho says:

    No amount of agitation is going to put Chafee anywhere near the WH. The WH is a closed circle around Bush. Anyone who has ever been critical of Bush need not apply. This means Chafee.
    Chafee is a useful tool if he can hold the Senate majority for the GOP. If he can’t do that, the GOP will toss Chafee from the train.
    Maybe you should ask about GOP committee chairmen that won’t speak out against Bush because they would get their chair yanked?


  10. Carroll says:

    Don’t live there so…..
    But I do like and agree with the foreign relations views ( if genuine) of both Chafee and Hagel that SC presented here before. Forget parties, if someone is on the right track support them.


  11. Marky says:

    Yet another reason to question your support for Chaffee, again from TPM. The GOP is again involved in massive, illegal robo-calling campaings in several states. Among other things, they have calls that puports to be from the Dem. candidate. If you listen to the call, you get negative information about the Democrat. If you hang up, you get called back several more times to make it seem like the Democrat is harrassing it.
    This election really is the last stand for your credibility, Steve, which has taken a huge hit because of your continuing willingness to kiss Republican ass.
    If you support a candidate associated with a party which relies on top down illegal tactics to win elections, you are beyond hope. Seriously.
    You might as well start shilling for the Mafia. They’re more reputable, and kill fewer people than the GOP.
    I don’t know what happened to you Steve, but you lost your way the last couple of years.
    You keep on saying that you haven’t changed your position or your goals—well, neither has Bush, and it’s not a good sign in his case either.


  12. Marky says:

    Read today’s posts over at TPM on how GOP Senate majority would be used to try to dismantle Social Security again.
    Chaffee should do the honorable thing and concede.
    Whatever personal redeeming qualities he has are outweighed by his willing association with a criminal enterprise.


  13. Marky says:

    Very disheartening news. Here’s to seeing Linc go down in flames on Tuesday.


  14. Nick. says:

    you’re off base on this one, perhaps clouded by your
    interest in stopping the Bolton confirmation. Moderate, nice guy or whatever, in these times,
    Chaffe is just a Bush enabler. Please re-consider your position.


  15. ga73 says:

    I suppose that of all of the in danger GOP incumbents, Chafee would be the one I’d want to win. But, that is only if Lamont wins in CT *and* Webb, Casey, Brown, Ford, Tester, Peterson all defeat their GOP opponents. Then perhaps Chafee will do what he should have done *before* the election season– switch to the Dems. Since he didn’t do that, I must support Whitehouse.


  16. Pissed Off Amaerican says:

    Steve repeatedly advances Chafee as an opponent of Alito, while ignoring the fact that Chafee refused to join a filibuster. In fact, Chafee made some asinine remark about “having to work together” when commenting on the fact that he was not going to support a filibuster. Implying that there is, or ever was, ANY atmosphere of “working together” with the Dems is a damned lie, and Chafee knows it. His opposition to Alito was in words only, and his actual deed tells the tale.
    And as far as Bolton goes, that battle is not over yet, regardless of Steve’s optimism. Bolton is still in his seat, and it is going to take a pry bar to pull his arrogant ass out of it. Steve thinks Bolton is out because he only views the situation as it now exists, rather than understanding that the Bush Administration will soon change the current situation by force feeding us another “security crisis”.
    So, what “victories” has Chafee’s lukewarm opposition to Bush policies and nominations handed the American people??? Zip. Nada. We are mired in Iraq. The Patriot Act exists. We are torturing prisoners in our custody. Our President is wiping his ass with the Constitution. Alito is on the bench. Science has been flushed down the toilet. Our debt rises exponentially daily. America’s wealth falls into fewer and fewer hands daily, and the poor get poorer and poorer while the middle sinks.
    But hurrah, Chafee claimed to oppose Alito and helped unseat Bolton from a seat he hasn’t yet been unseated from.
    Mission accomplished. My hero.


  17. hisssssss says:

    “I am for the Dems winning everywhere else, practically, in the country other than this seat.”
    Then you are for a Republican controlled Senate. Thanks.


  18. larry birnbaum says:

    Steve, you’re admittedly in a better position than I am to evaluate Chafee’s character and abilities. But he’s always seemed like a lightweight to me. Not a bad guy, but not particularly bright either, and more to the point in these times, not particularly strong.
    I just don’t think we can afford him. And most of all, moderate Republicans, to the extent they exist any more, need to understand that they must either exert (and assert) themselves or find themselves irrelevant as they do now.
    My feeling is, if the Dems win the House only, they’ll be able to slow these morons down a little, but they’ll keep fighting. But if we win both the House and the Senate, I believe Bush will fold. Rumsfeld will go, and someone will come in as a caretaker to sideline Cheney.


  19. Daniel CAZ Greenberg says:

    CNN? BBC? Lehrer? Wow! You’re certainly keeping busy. 🙂
    Congrats on all the work you’re getting Tuesday night.


  20. DonS says:

    I know nothing of the odds of Chafee being persuaded into the dem caucus, butI agree that if he wins this is sensible, especially if it would neutralize Lieberman’s leverage. However, it seems to run contra to the idea of leaving the albatross for repubs of being “in charge” of the Senate leading up to ’08.
    This may all be moot, but the Senate numbers do look terribly close at this point.
    –Don Schumacher


  21. Steve Clemons says:

    della — I do understand your point and know that my support for Chafee is on the line because the consequences of what Bush has done have been so miserable for the country. But in this climate, I have a tough time stomaching Schumer’s support for John Bolton, Lieberman’s faux bipartisanship, and many other things.
    I am working to help the Dems prepare for responsibility in foreign policy and national security decision making. I think that the way to win on foreign policy is for Dems to steal Realism from Republicans. Force John McCain to keep ownership of Bush’s foreign policy decisions and Iraq — and essentially to mimic Chuck Hagel’s views.
    That’s the way to win on foreign policy — at least in the near term. But Hagel and Chafee are looked at as the opposition by Bush & Co. And clearly those who argue that Hagel and Chafee are enablers of Bush are partly correct….I do get that. But in the right environments, they can also be the people who help dismantle the Bush machine.
    I will have more later on how the Dems should run to get the Presidency — and look forward to your thoughts.
    best regards,


  22. della Rovere says:

    Yes,I do not sayyou are less than transparent. The rules of the game have changed; the Republicans understand this well; if it’s not partisan than it’s crap. Ironically that is why there is such a strong REpublican push for Lieberman…here you have the ideal…a Dem preaching bipartisanship but only to the Dems…at the same time supporting the Republicans on the key issues. That works…for the Republicans.


  23. Steve Clemons says:

    della — actually I do. In many places, including on this blog, I have argued that the Republicans who have been the major collaborators with Bush’s vision should be knocked back. But I believe in working with the Hagels, Lugars, Lamar Alexanders, Voinoviches, and others who are reasonable. This blog has never hidden this.
    I also strongly believe that the Dems undermine their position in 2008 in seeking the White House if they win both the Senate and the House. So, the Rovian move on the Dem side would be to strongly secure the House and leave the Senate barely able to function with a razor thin Republican majority.
    That’s what I think — and I believe that we need moderate Republicans to help Dems in the next two years.
    Fully transparent here about my politics.
    best regards,


  24. della Rovere says:

    You may be happy about a Chafee win; you may even be happy about continued domination by the extreme right and the one-party rule we now have. But you do not ever discuss theclose relationship the two have. Chafee votes for majority leader; the majority leader and the committeee heads set the agenda. Those of us who have watched this congress in action have seen how this works. All Chafee’s votes are symbolic and meaningless given his support of the caucus.


Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *