January 27, 2008

Chafee: I wouldn't have voted for me either

Linc Chafee was one of the few Senators with the foresight and balls to vote against the Iraq War, and always struck me as the type of thoughtful politician who is fairly uncommon. Rhode Islanders thought so too, though he was, technically, a Republican. He lost re-election in 2006 in what was essentially a calculation on the part of voters here that his mere existence would allow the GOP to control the Senate. Since the margin in the Senate ended up being one vote, our decision to oust a guy we liked and agreed with to stop him from enabling the party we don't, proved pretty crafty. He is now essentially saying that our decision to not re-elect him was smart. The odd thing is that he didn't like the Republican leadership anymore than we did, but with the R's funding his campaign he couldn't just jump overboard. (Or as he says was afraid the prez taking revenge on RI). He's an independent now.

Of his new book, the Projo says:

The most startling revelation: Chafee must be the only senator in U.S. political history who says his defeat was the result of voters acting logically.

“The system works best when power remains in the hands of the voters,” writes Chafee. “I was a casualty of the system working in 2006, and while defeat is never easy, I give the voters credit: They made the connection between electing even popular Republicans at the cost of leaving the Senate in the hands of a leadership they had learned to mistrust.”
Exit polls done on Election Day showed that Chafee had a 63-percent job-approval rating, high enough, in most election cycles, to guarantee victory.
“I find it surprising now, in 2008, how many Democrats are running for president after shirking their constitutional duty to check and balance this president,” writes Chafee. “Being wrong about sending Americans to kill and be killed, maim and be maimed, is not like making a punctuation mistake in a highway bill.

“They argue that the president duped them into war, but getting duped does not exactly recommend their leadership. Helping a rogue president start an unnecessary war should be a career-ending lapse of judgment.”
The book has some through-the-looking-glass scenes; one in particular reads like Hunter S. Thompson sans drugs. As Mr. Bush pressed insistently for war, Chafee requested a meeting with CIA brass to examine the evidence against Saddam Hussein’s regime. “Sooner or later, I have to vote on this war, show me everything you have,” Chafee requests of the CIA.

“What they had, I discovered as the meeting stretched into an hour, was next to nothing,” recalls Chafee. “They showed me what they had with little comment and no enthusiasm. Someone handed me one of the infamous aluminum tubes, the kind we were told Saddam was using to enrich weapons-grade uranium while plotting mushroom clouds over America, the ‘smoking gun’ that Condoleezza Rice warned about.

“I looked at the aluminum tube, looked at the analysts and thought, I can go buy one of these at Adler’s Hardware,” the Providence hardware emporium, writes Chafee.

Adler's? Oh, snap!