Milquetoast as Cocky Careerist
Andrew is perspicacious to note, in a comment to the previous post, that the Chafee camp’s talk of ending Steve Laffey’s political career is disconcerting. Laffey may or may not be worth keeping on a list of potential Republican candidates, but this tough rhetoric — now used too frequently to be mere candid overstatement — is a strategic loser.
Most directly, such talk will make it more difficult for Chafee to gain the general-election votes of those who opposed him in the primary, assuming he makes it that far. His campaign may be correct that some percentage of us simply cannot be won over, but even if that is their calculation, it’s difficult to see what (or whom) they stand to gain by posturing in the public square — political cap guns twirling around their fingers.
Especially spoken by and on behalf of a Senator whose political and policy image can most charitably be described as that of an amiable Ichabod, the language of a Brom Bones echoes phony. Not only does it put the lie to claims of inclusiveness, maturity, and evenness of temper, but it evokes the impression of a man made haughty by the proximity of his “friends.” Worse, it makes the once-endearingly unadept Chafee (to adapt Patricia Morgan’s characterization) sound a bit too confident in his mastery of the political game.
Projecting strength in that area makes conspicuous his failure to do the same when it comes to those aspects of his job that have more to do with leadership.