Against the Tide, by Lincoln Chafee: on Principles & Values


Dick Cheney: OpEd: Did not ask Senate for support, but ordered it

[At a meeting of GOP moderates] we sat there and listened as Cheney made divisive pronouncements of policy that would come as a complete surprise to many of the Americans who had voted to elect the Bush-Cheney ticket.

The contentious and destructive agenda that Cheney dropped on us was troubling enough, but what really unnerved me was his attitude. He welcomed conflict.

Cheney tore our best campaign promises to shreds and the moderates acquiesced instead of pelting him with outrage. It was clear to me then that there would be no key bloc of moderate votes helping to shape legislation and reunite America over the next 4 years. In any event, Cheney was not asking for support--he was ordering us to provide it. The president-elect had his agenda; we were just along for the ride.

My heart sank as my colleagues peeled away, one by one. It was the most demoralizing moment of my 7-year tenure in the Senate.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 8-10 Apr 1, 2008

Dick Cheney: OpEd: Welcomed partisan conflict, despite campaign promises

Cheney's contentious and destructive agenda was troubling, but [worse] was his attitude: He welcomed conflict. We Republicans had promised America exactly the opposite.

That devastating first day after Bush and prevailed in the Supreme Court, if we were to believe Cheney, Bush would not only reignite the partisanship of the Clinton-Gingrich era but would make it even more toxic. Cheney tore our best campaign promises to shreds and the moderates acquiesced instead of pelting him with outrage.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 8-9 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: 1994: two dozen moderate GOP Senators; by 1999: only 5

In the decades before the seismic congressional elections of 1994, 2 dozen moderate Republican senators would meet for lunch in the US Capital every Wednesday.

By 1999, when I became the Republican senator from Rhode Island, the party had drifted so far right that only 5 Republicans were willing to be seen at the moderates' table on Wednesdays. We had no one there from, say, Wyoming or Kansas anymore. Our most senior member was Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Like me, the rest were New Englanders: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, and James Jeffords of Vermont, who would later quit the party to become an Independent.

The real action was at the Conservative Steering Committee, which had probably started out at a table for 5 and then grew to include almost the entire Republican caucus.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 1-2 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: 2000: GOP promised Americans an end to political conflict

[At a meeting of GOP moderates] we sat there and listened as Cheney made divisive pronouncements of policy that would come as a complete surprise to many of the Americans who had voted to elect the Bush-Cheney ticket.

The contentious and destructive agenda that Cheney dropped on us was troubling enough, but what really unnerved me was his attitude. He welcomed conflict. We Republicans had promised America exactly the opposite.

Cheney tore our best campaign promises to shreds and the moderates acquiesced instead of pelting him with outrage. It was clear to me then that there would be no key bloc of moderate votes helping to shape legislation and reunite America over the next 4 years. In any event, Cheney was not asking for support--he was ordering us to provide it. The president-elect had his agenda; we were just along for the ride.

My heart sank as my colleagues peeled away, one by one. It was the most demoralizing moment of my 7-year tenure in the Senate.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 8-10 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: Mayor of Warwick RI, as the All-But-Lone Republican

I was mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, a city of 90,000 on scenic Greenwich Bay. I had governed successfully for 7 years as the All-But-Lone Republican. My party never held more than 2 of 9 seats on the city council. We had our battles, but Democrats knew I was fair and kept my word and that I respected them. My Democratic council president and a rival for my job, once honored me by telling reporter, on the record, "His word is gold." On the whole, our two branches of government made Warwick a better city by negotiating differences and, in most cases, cooperating once we had ironed them out as best we could.
Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 19 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: As mayor, I'd rather take a beating than be a no-show

In my first few weeks in office, a crew excavating for a new sewer line dislodged a natural gas pipe. Gas seeped through the ground into a family's home, fortunately unoccupied at the time. When the thermostat kicked on and made a spark, the house exploded. It was a miracle that no one was killed.

We had a meeting about it, and the room was packed. Residents were understandably frightened and angry, and I wanted us to listen and not say anything that would raise the pitch. My supporters said, "Don't go to these things. Send low-level bureaucrats who don't have to stand for reelection."

That struck me as not only poor leadership but poor politics. I would rather take a beating than be labeled a no-show. I wanted to explain my point of view and take my chances on winning people over as best I could. That is a huge part of the art of politics, and, more important, governing. I think Warwick people liked that I did business that way. By 1994, I was tested, scarred, and comfortable as mayor.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 27-28 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: 1999: Appointed to Senate when his father died

My father gave me his best advice on both the personal and political dimensions of life in Washington. He saw that a rare chance was opening in Rhode Island for another Republican to go to the Senate, and I decided to step through it.

I will always feel sadness that Dad died before I won the race to succeed him. He died in office before he got to enjoy even a single day of retirement he had announced. He had undergone back surgery in the summer of 1999, and though he returned to work in Washington I could see that he had never fully recovered. He died suddenly that October.

Assuming his duties by appointment made for a jarring transition. One day I was raising money and building support for my Senate run, the next day I was the incumbent senator.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p. 32 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: 2004 election: Voted for George H. W. Bush, underlining "H"

I voted for George W. Bush but resolved not to make that mistake again in 2004. It was a problem because I had always voted the straight Republican ticket and wanted to be able to say I had never voted Democratic when a Republican was on the ballot.

I knew I could not vote for John Kerry in 2004. His campaign had cast real doubt on his judgment as far as I was concerned. I planned to write in a Republican candidate of my choosing.

"How can you vote for George Bush when you oppose everything he wants to do or isn't doing about the environment?", reporters asked.

I said, "Who said I'm voting for George Bush?" The feeding frenzy was on.

Voting for the president's father would make the point that there was nothing personal in my criticism of the president. I just could not abide his habit of saying one thing and doing another. On election day, I wrote the name George H.W. Bush on my ballot. Than I underlined the "H".

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.124-125 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: Real flag desecration is ignoring the First Amendment

This Republican-sponsored amendment to the constitution would create a restriction on the First Amendment. It would authorize Congress to pass laws fining or jailing anyone who desecrated the flag.

Everyone knew the flag desecration vote would be close. Veterans groups were energized on the issue and were after me to vote in favor. In meetings with veterans I argued that almost no one desecrates the flag. I had not seen an American protester burn an American flag in 30 years. It was just plain wrong and irresponsible to use our own partisan political agenda to poison 50 statehouses with the emotional nonissues.

The House passed the amendment by the required 2/3 majority. After a dramatic call of the roll on a proposal to amend our Constitution, it failed by one vote. I had never been prouder to cast a vote, a vote to uphold the 1st Amendment. I found many of the yea votes baffling. Using the flag for political gain was the real desecration.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.182-184 Apr 1, 2008

Lincoln Chafee: Disenchanted centrist voters will seek 3rd-party candidate

If one or both parties do not start heeding the center, the voters will make a tectonic shift in politics on their own. They will leave their most partisan fellow citizens behind, in ever shrinking tents of red and blue.

I believe this is the way forward in American politics: centrist Americans, disenchanted with Republicans and Democrats alike, coalescing around 3rd party candidates who are focused on the future; on solving, not exploiting, the problems we face, whether those problems were thrust upon us by others, or we foolishly brought them on ourselves.

The next mass movement of American voters may come out of an existing party apparatus, such as the Greens or the Libertarians; but it seems more likely to gather around a personality first, than a platform.

When a 3rd way mounts a serious challenge to the Republican and Democratic parties, I suspect it will come out of nowhere and gather strength with surprising speed.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.239-241 Apr 1, 2008

Republican Party: Pass laws against those who desecrate the flag

Everyone knew the flag desecration vote would be close. Veterans groups, the American Legion in particular, were energized on the issue. Everyone knew the margin was razor thin. The veterans reminded me: "We vote in Republican primaries."

In meetings with veterans I argued that almost no one desecrates the flag. To the contrary, September 11 had inspired millions of Americans to start flying the flag for the 1st time in their lives. Republicans were whipping up veterans over a nonissue for short-term political gain in November.

I had not seen an American protester burn an American flag in 30 years. It was just plain wrong and irresponsible to use our own partisan political agenda to poison 50 statehouses with the emotional nonissues. We would be sabotaging the real work our state lawmakers had to accomplish.

The House passed the amendment and Pres. Bush was delighted to announce that he would sign the legislation if the Senate followed suit [but it failed].

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.183-184 Apr 1, 2008

Sheldon Whitehouse: OpEd 2006: Ran against President Bush, not Sen. Chafee

Sheldon Whitehouse had breezed through a noncompetitive primary and was sitting on enormous cash reserves raised by a Democratic apparatus that sensed victory in the race for Senate control.

Democratic donors poured money into key Senate races around the country, including mine. They firehoused me with criticism, linking me to the right-wing failures of the president and the Senate. I was well known for fighting the president and the GOP leadership.

I was the only candidate in the race with a record of standing up to entrenched powers, but a parade of Democratic Bush enablers came to Rhode Island to campaign for my opponent. Senators Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and others who had voted for the war in Iraq, urged my constituents, at this critical time in history, to elect one more of their own, as I saw it.

In any event, Whitehouse ran not against me, but against President Bush, whose approval rating in Rhode Island was abysmal.

Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.179-180 Apr 1, 2008

Tim Johnson: Won re-election with overwhelming Native Americans vote

In South Dakota that year, Democratic senator Tim Johnson won reelection over GOP challenger John Thune by 0.15% of the vote. All night long, it seemed that Thune had unseated Johnson in an upset; but the race turned when the late vote came in from the western counties, where Native Americans voted for Democrats overwhelmingly. But even with Thune's narrow loss, the Senate was back in Republican hands by 2 votes.
Source: Against the Tide, by Sen. Lincoln Chafee, p.100 Apr 1, 2008

  • The above quotations are from Against the Tide
    How a Compliant Congress Empowered a Reckless President

    by Lincoln Chafee.
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