Friday, August 12, 2005

Whitehouse Links Linc to White House

I usually like to focus on Massachusetts politics to the exclusion of national politics and other issues, but I have to admit that I still have a nostalgic fondness for Rhode Island. It's where I went to college, and more importantly where I started dating and eventually married my wife. So, if you'll indulge me, I may from time-to-time post about the 2006 Rhode Island Senate race where Democrats are trying to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. Today, I stumbled upon an E Plurbus Media interview with former RI Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, the front runner in the Democratic primary. Here is what Whitehouse has to say about Chafee:

According to most public polls, he is polling 41 to my 36 -- and I've been in the race only three months now. I outraised him two-to-one in the last quarter. And Rhode Island is fundamentally a blue state.

He goes down to Washington and votes for the Republican leadership. And while he can walk away from them on individual votes, Rhode Island would be better-served -- and I'm going to be able to make the case that Rhode Island will be better-served, given our values and our interests -- by somebody who will not vote for Bill Frist, but who will support a Democratic majority leader. After that, there are dozens of different votes we can get into. But I think that fundamentally, when Senator Chafee aids and abets the Republican leadership of the Senate and the Bush administration, he's distancing himself from the people of Rhode Island.

And I think they know it, and I think that's why he's in trouble here. Nothing against him personally, he's a fine individual, [Sheldon and his family are long-time friends of Chafee and his family] but he is simply in an impossible position between the values and interests of Rhode Island, and the schemes and devices of the Bush administration.
Also amusing is Whitehouse's take on John Bolton:
I've been involved in some of the biggest reforms in Rhode Island in the last 15 or 20 years -- reform of the banking system after the banking crisis, reform of the separation of powers, reform of the workers' compensation system, reform of judicial nominations and ethics reform -- and I've never found the cause of reform advanced by having somebody put a stick in the eye of the institutions he wants to reform. You have to have an underlying respect for the institution in order to do the job of reform right, in my opinion. And it doesn't appear that John Bolton has any underlying respect for either the United Nations as an institution or the job the UN was created to perform.
The strategy is obvious -- link Chafee to the unpopular (in Rhode Island anyway) Republican administration as often as possible. To be fair, Chafee can come back and say that he didn't even cast a vote for Bush this time around, but the more he admits that, the less likely that RI Republican true believers will go to the mattresses for him. It will be an interesting race to follow, very much in contrast to our own already pre-determined 2006 Senate race, where the state GOP can't even find a sacrificial lamb to at least tie Senator Ted Kennedy down so he can't fundraise for other candidates.