Toward a Non-Pixelated Movement

Believe me that I tried, as the comments on the Laffey Photoshop controversy trickled in yesterday, to convince myself that I was making a flaw out of a quirk. Believe me, too, that I’m not altogether happy about the contrast between these posts and the more substantive ones that others are publishing around them. Nonetheless, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something just, well, off about doctoring those photos. Perhaps not doctoring them so much as keeping them available on a campaign Web site after having done so.
I’m far from tepid in my desire to unseat the faction of Rhode Island Republicans who hold on to what power they have in part through convenient definition of what a Senator — specifically, a Senator for Rhode Island — “needs to be.” But there are certain qualities that a prominent representative must project in order to be effective. Maturity and a modicum of magnanimity are among them; such representatives must have the ability to coat their barbs with an intelligence and cleverness that ups the rhetorical ante, rather than lowering the political dialogue.
The two times that I’ve heard him speak, Mayor Laffey evinced a fondness for comparing himself to Ronald Reagan. It’s a comparison that many of his supporters long to be accurate, and I worry that, in our desire for a conservative stalwart to succeed by making the case for policies that we believe to be just, effective, and even compassionate, we may be marrying our cause to the first candidate to successfully identify that political opportunity. In local races, the flirtation was enough. When it comes to the U.S. Senate, we should husband our growing political capital until the real thing comes along.
Rhode Island conservatives aren’t there yet. I happen to believe that allowing Linc Chafee to lose his seat will bring us closer to our goal, but I’m not so sure that attempting to give it to Steve Laffey isn’t setting us back.
After Mayor Laffey had given his speech at a gathering of Portsmouth Republicans back in February, event organizer Deborah Mitchell Young introduced him to the two bloggers whom she’d invited: me and Rocco DiPippo. After a minute or two of observing Rocco being his magnificently exuberant self, Laffey grabbed Deborah’s arm and pulled her a few steps away as if to discuss some minor scheduling detail that would be of no interest to the rest of us. A moment later, the transitionary move having been made, he simply slipped away.
He was enough of a politician to know to step away from those who offer only gusto in a room full of the influential. But he was not enough of a politician — and not genuinely interested enough in his potential base of supporters — to find a way to leave behind a sense of having been acknowledged, rather than left hanging.
As a movement, Rhode Island conservatives aren’t yet sufficiently corporeal that we can afford to be pixelated.

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Jim
Jim
15 years ago

Justin,
You can read the tea leaves however you wish. However, if you think that this pixelating thing somehow offers the be-all and end-all vision into the soul of a man, you are too easily fooled.
Furthermore, what is Senatorial to you? Wondering who you are going to vote for as president for months, and letting everyone know you can’t make up your mind, and then writing in someone who isn’t even running.
What do your tea leaves tell you about that person?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you like what is going on down in Washington, you can keep those “Senatorial” Senators in there. If you think things need to be shaken up – I mean really shaken up – I’d love to see Laffey down there joing with the likes of Tom Coburn to make real changes. Onoe thing about Laffey – he doesn’t really care what anyone thinks when he is on a mission. And judging from what he has done in Cranston, rather than some silly pixelating issue you use as your litmus test, I say he’ll do a great job for us down in Washington.

Tim
Tim
15 years ago

The delusion continues.
This notion Laffey and his crowd have that if elected Mr. Pixal is going to Washington DC and will re-invent how things work there is hilarious.
Steve Laffey has shown us that he does not work well with others. Laffey will quickly find himself on the very back bench of the Senate in no time at all.
Newly elected power hungry know-it-alls don’t do well in Washington DC.
The delusional hero worship of this small city Mayor with three years political experience is quite sad.

Fred Sanford
Fred Sanford
15 years ago

Justin, Laffey is for the Bush tax cuts, supported the war, and is supportive of Alito. He fired crossing guards, stopped millions in unnecessary school spending, and got a 20% co-share along with health savings accounts from the teamsters unions (which was achieved through negotiation)….sounds like a Reagan Republican to me. He attends conservative Republican events as shown on this website when he attended a meeting of the NFRA. So he does give conservatives attention. Now, it sounds like you are unhappy that Laffey didn’t give you enough attention in Portsmouth. If you want attention from Laffey then go volunteer at his headquarters. I am sure you will find many conservatives there. You may think it is childish for Laffey’s campaign to have pixlated Jackvony, but what is more childish is to not support a candidate who shares your views because you didn’t get enough attention from him at a Portsmouth event, and you don’t like his sense of humor. By the way, Justin, you know this stuff doesn’t matter…just like the pink flamingos didn’t matter either in 2004. I can tell you want to create a conservative movement in RI and you are perplexed about a candidate with whom you agree on most issues, but whose style you don’t like. This is understandable. But making a viable conservative movement in RI takes more than web postings, it takes a candidate who has appealing ideas on the issues, grabs TV/media attention, and can entertain voters who don’t care about the issues but like a fun personality (ala why Cianci won in this state). Laffey has his quirks, but I do not see any other Republican in this state who has done what he did to the unions, and has the guts to take on big issues. BIG issues, not pixlated… Read more »

james
james
15 years ago

I consider myself just about as conservative as you can be, and the simple fact is I don’t want Laffey in office because I don’t trust him.
Just like I didn’t trust Bill Clinton, I don’t trust Steve Laffey.
Character, my friends MATTERS. Our public officials should be held to a higher standard, and whether you like it or not, it is our responsibility to elect candidates that not only will effectively represent our political interests, but will also bring dignity to the office they are serving.
This entire pixel-gate episode only highlights the immature nature of Laffey and his campaign. Anyone that has followed the mayor knows what his personality is, which is why there are so many former Laffey loonies out there and not many new converts.
Again. I don’t trust Mr. Laffey, no matter how conservative he positions himself to be for the moment.
p.s. If Laffey is so politically seasoned, then he should know that he will never win in a general election with true conservative ideals. So what does that mean for conservatives if he makes it through the primary? Maybe all of a sudden, Laffey positions himself as not all that conservative? Maybe he takes on a more centrist view? Maybe he knows that Rhode Island conservatives are desperate for a savior and is using that blind faith to his advantage. (and the fact that any of this makes sense to even the most devout laffey loony should say something about your candidate)

Jim
Jim
15 years ago

James and Tim,
You both share that “loser” mentality that says, essentially, “we can’t make things change” and “we can’t win with our principles”. So what do you do – you compromise your principles and you are more than willing to take the scraps left to you. That is precisely what the Republican Party in RI has done – and that is precisely why they are viewed as a bunch of losers.
Now if you want to see what Laffey will do in Washington, there is no better view than what he did in Cranston.
You’re right, those who didn’t agree with him, could go away. He wouldn’t compromise his principles. Undeniably, when he has fought, that’s right, fought – not brokered some loser deal in the name of getting along – he wins! Look at all the lawsuits that he has won for the taxpayers. All you lightweights would have given in and made some phony deal to say “we worked together” even though the taxpayers got screwed again.
Chafee is such a lightweight when compared to Laffey you can never bring up positive reasons why Chafee is the man for the job, you just try to find fault with Laffey on such nonsensical stuff as this pixelating thing.
Aside from you Chafee lightweights nobody cares.

citizenjane
citizenjane
15 years ago

Justin, There is a fundamental difference between you and Herr Laffey. You want to use words to discover truth; he wants to use words (and spiteful imagery stunts) to acquire power. The reason he didn’t want to talk to you — how would it increase his power? He couldn’t see any way, so you were useless to him. If he had any core sensitivity as a human being, he would have chatted with you long enough to realize that you are a talented writer and thinker, and someone he would do well to get to know.
You have a gift for being more sensitive and perceptive than most people, and my opinion is that you are dead-on in your misgivings about the Mayor.
Perhaps you could write a Tom Wolfe-style novel based on the politics of Rhode Island. You certainly understand the issues and are not blind-sided by rhetoric.
That being said, is Laffey a failure? No. Has he done some good things for Cranston? Yes. Is he a qualified candidate for the US Senate? Not in my opinion.
I may vote for him in the primary, though. Because I would rather see a democrat get in than continue the Chafee dynasty.

Tom W
Tom W
15 years ago

I am going to vote for Laffey in the primary, simply to try to knock Chafee out and send a big message to the Republican National Committee.
And if that means that ultimately the next Senator from RI is a Democrat, so be it. The “vote for a RINO for it is the lesser of two evils and will keep the ‘Republicans’ in control of the Senate” is utter nonsense. Having Specter / Chafee / Collins et als. in the Senate does us more harm than good. Better to have a determined minority than what we have no.
All that said, while Laffey is certainly more conservative than Chafee, to believe that he is a principled conservative is probably delusional. Laffey’s running for office is about Laffey’s ambition and ego. Period. And I don’t doubt that when the choice is between conservative principles and his ambition, the ambition will win.
I will vote for Laffey in the primary. I don’t know about the general election – we’ll see who’s in the race. Once I actually held my nose and voted for the Democrat challenger to try to knock Chafee Sr. out of office …

james
james
15 years ago

Hmmm…some positives about Chafee.
1. I know what I’m going to get — someone who votes with the Prez 70% of the time and baffles the National GOP enough for them to throw lots of money in Rhode Island’s general direction
2. A man that is clearly NOT a politician (which is a very good thing)
3. A Senator with growing seniority and influence among the ranks of both parties
4. Someone that has shown he is able to be both humble and strong in his opinions
5. Someone that I can disagree with on issues without fear of being voted off his island.
What I know I’ll get with Laffey
1. Someone that raised my taxes three times and wants to do it again in 2007.
2. Someone that has blinding personal ambition, and is a “true politician” (which is never good)
3. Someone that has alienated the national party and has sold out the city of Cranston
4. Someone that speaks out of both sides of their mouth and believes everything he says
5. A losing general election campaign
My support for Chafee is based in his ability to bring in much needed federal dollars, his personal character, and his growing statuture in the Senate.
Mayor Laffey of Cranston, RI – where 60% of the vote went to JF Kerry – is NOT going to make a difference in Washington. If Laffey were a Dem you would be lambasting him for his tax overkill and would be condemning his personal character – this pixel episode being only the latest example.
I mean, come on! Citizen Jane AND RIFuture want Laffey to beat Chafee! That should tell you something!
AND FOR THE RECORD: I DON’T WORK FOR CHAFEE

Tom W
Tom W
15 years ago

>>My support for Chafee is based in his ability to bring in much needed federal dollars, his personal character, and his growing statuture in the Senate.
I’d prefer a Senator who is less interested in taking MY money in the first place, rather than one who takes it then “gets some federal dollars” returned so that they can get their photo in the media with a golden shovel at some groundbreaking ceremony.
And while Chafee may have increasing seniority, I don’t think he has “stature” in the Senate. He’s a lightweight.
We need the national Republican party to re-embrace its principles. As long as the Chafees and Specters win, this will not happen. The RNC needs to experience “moderates” losing primaries …
So while Laffey is no prize, knocking Chafee out in the primary will perform a valuable public service.

Darryl
Darryl
15 years ago

Tom W. Thank you for bringing the Chafee-Laffey race into a macro-political context. I agree that there are broader implications to this race beyond how much money Chafee can bring into the state, or the whether the Mayor’s pixalled (sp?) out a former friend in his campaign photos. However, I disagree with your analysis, in that I do not believe a Chafee loss – along with a loss of the Senate – will solidify a National Conservative movement. While living in Rhode Island might not allow us to see it, we already are in the midst of a conservative era. The Dems are self-destructing nationally, while the Bush tax cuts, the war on terror, and a conservative social backlash to liberalism is propelling the GOP into the party of the majority. The Dems do not deserve to have control over the Senate. They have done nothing to establish any form of platform, and to hand them a house in Congress will only further their abilities to distort Republican ideals. In those times when we have been in power, the Republican party has been a big tent. In order to fully realize our political aims, we have to have a mandate. That mandate is going to be achieved through leaders from John McCain to Bill Frist, Rudy Giulianni to Rick Santorum, and from Linc Chafee to George Allen. Simply, the ability to maintain our control of the Senate is of far more interst to our national goals than unifying as a determined minority. In fact, I believe that if we do find ourselves in that position, it will only split the party further and alienate candidates and voters that we would otherwise attract if in power. I have not decided who I will vote for in the primary, however, I hope… Read more »

james
james
15 years ago

Tom M,
What the pixel controversy has revealed is what many people view to be Laffey’s questionable character.
This is not something that will go away. The more the mayor reveals of himself, the more questions people have about his motivations. Rather than dismissing this incident outright, I suggest the Laffey campaign (Tom W, Tom M, Will, etc) take a look at how best to improve the mayor’s image.
In the end, Rhode Islanders will vote for the most ‘Senatorial’ candidate. Right now, the mayor looks like he’s more of a scrappy House candidate or well, mayoral candidate.

Jim
Jim
15 years ago

james,
You are delusional if you think that people are inspired to come out and vote in a primary because of those muddled abstract qualities you glowingly shower upon your lightwight candidate. Obviously, you are enamored with such cryptic traits, but you have merely proven my point. You can’t name one thing of substance as a reason to vote for your boy Chafee – because there is nothing of substance to Chafee. He is a lightweight. If his last name was not Chafee he would still be on the farm shoeing horses.

james
james
15 years ago

Jim,
please see above.
thanks,
J

james
james
15 years ago

james,
When Chafee does something completely un-Senatorial – like publicly agonizing over who he should vote for as president, and then writing in the name of somebody who isn’t even running – your people dismiss this as “quirky”. That’s a bit of a double standard, wouldn’t you say??

james
james
15 years ago

I don’t dismiss the Senator’s actions in writing in Bush Sr’s name. In fact, I disagree wholeheartedly with it, however it was a for him, a principled decision that was clearly not politically motivated, unless you subscribe to the theory that Chafee’s maverick positions are just enough to keep the national party at bended knee for his vote (which is not such an outlandish argument)
The fact is, Chafee’s seat, and thus Rhode Island, has an elevated position in Washington circles far beyond what it would be if Laffey or Sheldon were occupying it.
What you don’t seem to get is that Chafee is actually very principled. You may disagree with his positions, as I do on many notes, but his voting record underscores a record of principled decisions that often fly in the face of popular sentiment within both political parties.
Remember, the Senate is meant to calm the passions of the House. Something tells me that Mayor Laffey won’t be able to go to Washington and change that.
I simply don’t trust Laffey, and he does not fit my idea of a “statesman”

Tim2
Tim2
15 years ago

The nerve of the “Character” question posted by the liberal lightweights about Laffey begs the question of whether they addressed the real issue with Slick Willy and his geisha in the White House.
Laffey has immense character and a strong backbone, unlike the many corrupt yet still sitting politicians in Rhody. This is why lightweights fear him because he does what many are afraid to do or incapable of doing and their attacks on him are more driven by their own lack of conviction and self-confidence. Laffey has some of the strongest moral standards out there. His family upbringing and early challenges in life have given him a perspective one does not get growing up in the elitist country club set or from those whose only calling in life is to be a career politician. He is a tireless worker with a brilliant mindset, two other characteristics that scare the heck out of the loafing union types that want to abuse our taxes for ther own self interest. I would get over the character issue because you make yourselves look foolish.

cpl john
cpl john
15 years ago

I don’t think that the character issue can be underestimated, and Tim2 just highlighted why.
No one is perfect. I am sure that mayor Laffey has made plenty of mistakes/compromises, just as we all have.
If the mayor is such a force against unions and corrupt politicians, then how is his leaving the state going to benefit Rhode Island and leaving a police contract unresolved? Is he going to be putting pressure on school boards or going after shady real estate deals while in Washington? I don’t think that’s what a senator should be concerned with. That’s why we have a governor, mayors, and town councils.
Our senator is sent to Washington to act in the best interests of RI on a national level. He is supposed to be an ambassador for our interests, and whoever is elected in 2006 should be the best candidate that will reflect the interests of Rhode Island.
I’m an independent, and probably won’t vote in the primary, but I’ll vote for the mayor if he comes through to the general election, but frankly, I have been disillusioned by his eagerness to leave the state, which in my opinion is where we need the most help.
I don’t buy the “I’ll help RI in the senate” line — we’ve had a long line of distinguished Senators over the last 50+ years, and look where we are

Anthony
Anthony
15 years ago

At the risk of being called a “liberal lightweight”–my wife always get a chuckle when someone refers to me as a “liberal”–I think Justin has hit upon a concern about Laffey that I’ve heard many others expressed.
Laffey pays attention to people he feels can help him, ignores those individuals from whom he cannot benefit and attacks those individuals who disagree with him. You can make it sound good or bad. It can be termed negatively as either ego and self-aggrandizement or positively as decisive leadership and efficiency.
Tim2’s suggestion that everyone should “get over” Laffey’s character issue “because you makes yourselves look foolish” is another manifestation of this attitude. There is a reason why colleagues at Morgan Keegan asked for Steve Laffey to be fired. There is a reason, beyond fighting the unions, that he has so many enemies in RI.
Everyone should understand and accept the fact that Steve Laffey’s top priority is Steve Laffey. If he feels he has secured his in-state conservative base, he will move left and begin working on independents. I’m surprised he even attends Republican events anymore.
If you can set aside the character issues and are willing to look strictly at policy, Laffey becomes an attractive candidate. I just can’t get myself to do it. I think Character DOES matter. Duke Cunningham was a conservative congressman, but he was a conservative congressman who didn’t have character. Now he’s going to jail and the GOP may lose the seat. This does not help the conservative movement.
The conservative movement will only be advanced by elected LEADERS WITH CHARACTER. How you treat people is part of that character.

james
james
15 years ago

Anthony,
I couldn’t agree more.
Remember: Reagan was elected because he was inclusive and of good character. He gave democrats and centrist republicans reasons to trust him. Laffey has not done this since coming on the scene. In fact, he has done just the opposite — the pixel controversy just the most recent example.
The republican party cannot afford to lose the public trust. Sure, we have made gains, but those advances can easily be undone by our own doing. Electing candidates like steve laffey – who are only in it for themselves – is a sure ticket to the minority.
As is the purification of the Republican party. We need to be a big tent. Not every republican has to be a ‘true conservative’ (whatever that means, Pat Toomey). And we need to be HUMBLE and righteous. We cannot afford to elect candidates of questionable character. In doing so, all we are doing is arming the dems and mainstream media who would like nothing more than to see the GOP in the political scrapheap.
I don’t trust mayor laffey, and I fear that his election would be another step forward in the republican party’s exit from the majority.

Tim2
Tim2
15 years ago

A few clarifications and expansion on thoughts voiced above are necessary: >>>Our senator is sent to Washington to act in the best interests of RI on a national level. He is supposed to be an ambassador for our interests, and whoever is elected in 2006 should be the best candidate that will reflect the interests of Rhode Island. CPL John: I wholeheartedly agree. Now do you want to entrust someone who has proven he will take on the special interests that pilfer our hard earned dollars through union giveaways and $100 million bridges to nowhere, or more of the same as RI is so willing to accept? Anthony: >>>Duke Cunningham was a conservative congressman, but he was a conservative congressman who didn’t have character. Now he’s going to jail and the GOP may lose the seat. This does not help the conservative movement. This is the typical sleaze you lightweights look for to blind the electorate to what is going on. I guess your rationale is that since Duke is conservative and a thief, all conservatives are thieves lacking character??? And more, Anthony: >>>There is a reason why colleagues at Morgan Keegan asked for Steve Laffey to be fired. Name one acquistion where the smaller company launched their CEO into the top position. Hmmm…Steve Case and AOL/Time Warner??? That lasted long. Your ignorance is exceeded solely by your stupidity for making this comment. Take a look at the top donors to Laffey from Morgan Keegan and your argument falls flat on its face. Finally, Anthony, >>>There is a reason, beyond fighting the unions, that he has so many enemies in RI. Oh yeah, the fact that he gets things done. Why is achievement and courage viewed so negatively by others in RI? Maybe because it makes them have to get… Read more »

Anthony
Anthony
15 years ago

Tim2,
1. To suggest that Linc Chafee was responsible for the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska or that Steve Laffey would have prevented it, is ludicrous. Ted Stevens is a very powerful Senator and he was the driving force behind that project. While I don’t agree with Chafee’s position on taxes, he is a budget hawk. I’m sure he didn’t think it was a wise expense, but there’s no way he, or Laffey, would have been in a position to stop it.
2. Perhaps you didn’t understand my comments about Cunningham. I’ll try to simplify them for you. I did not assert that “all conservatives are thieves lacking character.” I am a conservative and I think I have character. My point is that just because someone is a conservative it doesn’t guarantee that they have character. Do you understand the distinguishment? Many of Laffey’s actions bring his character into question.
3. Yes, it is public information that a few of Morgan Keegan’s top executives donated to Steve’s campaign. It is also public knowledge that many of Morgan Keegan’s executives left the firm while he was at the helm because of him (before the takeover) and that senior analysts demanded his firing rather than having Regions Bank reassign him into another position–reassignment being something that happens quite frequently after a merger occurs. In your post, you make an assumption that Morgan Keegan is monolithic–if a few executives donated to Laffey, it must mean that ALL of the firm’s executives like Steve Laffey. This is faulty logic. Laffey was a divisive presence at Morgan Keegan as he continues to be divisive in his current role as a public servant.
So now, please continue to call me stupid and ignorant about M&A’s. Rather ironic coming from a person who probably couldn’t define EBITDA…

Tim2
Tim2
15 years ago

Anthony:
In your first point above you prove your loser mentality: because Ted Stevens is so powerful, you make a vote that is against your own principles? Isn’t the Character issue what got us started down this path in the first place? If Chafee truly did not think it was a wise expense, as you qualify, then why did he vote for it? That defeatist mentality is what permeates the RI culture today and will keep us with the smallest voice until someone stands up for what is reasonable and pragmatic.
As for your continued attempts to bash Laffey’s business career, you clearly show your ignorance with regards to the politics that take place every day inside corporate America. Young upstart takes the helm and established executives who are pissed for being passed over either hit the road or are run out themselves. Sound familiar? Seems to me like a great training ground for fixing RI’s problems.
As for your Basic Accounting quiz above, give me a break. The only people who condescendingly throw those acronyms around are the academics who try to teach them, not the people who use them for a living.
Cheerio!

Anthony
Anthony
15 years ago

Tim2, Umm, I will only briefly respond to your comments suggesting that I am a.) a liberal; or b.) an academic. I am neither, although I do have a great respect for people with intelligence, whether they choose to apply that intelligence in business or academia. So while you are wrong (as you are about several other things) about calling me an academic, I don’t view it as an insult. But let’s look at another perception of your story: Young upstart takes control of company. Shows strong accuity at picking stocks, but pressures analysts to make certain stock picks. Analysts, who legally are supposed to be independent of the retail wing, feel their automomy is threatened by a bright, albeit micromanaging chief operating officer. In an effort to stop the bloodletting of their brightest analysts, the acquiring company resolves the problem by firing Mr. Laffey and signing their employees to confidentiality agreements. Regions goes on to become a regional financial powerhouse, Steve Laffey goes on to become Mayor of Cranston. Everyone lives happily ever after. Regarding your comments about Ted Stevens, it is comment for a legislator to vote for pieces of legislation even though it may contain things which you oppose. For example, if Chafee voted against the Bridge to Nowhere, he would also have to vote against improvements to the Sakonnet River Bridge and I-195. These are the compromises that legislators face. It would be nice to believe that Steve Laffey would go to DC and “change” everything. I guess every challenger gets elected by talking about what he or she would change and claiming how things are currently “screwed up”. As far as I’m concerned, the economy is actually going quite well, Bridge to Nowhere and all. It’s the liberals who are trying to make it look… Read more »

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