Notes on the Breakfast Table, Page 1

Sometimes I think that writers on social or political matters have an obligation not to participate in the processes or events of which they write. It is much more difficult, for example, to speak ill of a player whom one likes personally, or through whom one wishes to gain advantage. And surely both analysis and literary force suffer when cogent details become advisably withheld or generalized so as to avoid causing personal offense. (Note that I offer no specific examples.)
On the other hand, I wonder whether a writer can accurately understand topics such as politics without having first-hand experience of the emotional as well as intellectual forces involved. I can’t help but think, for example, that there are important lessons to be found in the relief that I felt upon discovering that the last two seats available at the East Bay GOP Breakfast were — although at a table being circumnavigated by Mayor Laffey as I sat — next to representatives of the Chafee campaign.
Lessons from that particular experience I’ll leave for further rumination, turning instead to those deriving from the presentation of the event’s host, Representative Bruce Long. As preface and intermissions to the speeches of the event’s two special guests, the soft-spoken Rep. Long offered, most prominently, a running back-slapping list of the elected officials and candidates present in the room. Such are the necessities of political life, but in a gathering of approximately seventy people, it made gratuitously conspicuous the high percentage of insiders. (Indeed, Mayor Laffey’s family alone contributed about 8% of the headcount.)
Perhaps by way of explanation for the copious recognition that he doled out, Rep. Long noted the lack of brave souls willing to enter Rhode Island politics on the side of the right (loosely speaking). With so many Republicans “afraid to be sacrificial lambs,” in Long’s words, a bit of ritualized encouragement of those who’ve stepped forward is certainly not too much to ask the rest of us to endure.
I would suggest, though, that obligatory clapping is less likely to encourage the lambs than would a clear enunciation of what, exactly, they are sacrificing for. Rep. Long may assert that Rhode Island’s Republican Party is in its current state of perpetual minority “not because of the issues,” but because of the aforementioned lack of people. Party chairwoman Patricia Morgan unintentionally contradicted him, however, when she stole five minutes at the end of the meeting to announce that the party is finally getting around to piecing together a platform.
It could be argued, I suppose, that the RI GOP’s difficulties couldn’t possibly be “because of the issues” when the group has yet to take any explicit stands on them. The hope and excitement fostered by the forceful speeches of attorney general candidate Bill Harsch and Mayor Laffey argue otherwise.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
31 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Fred on the Blog
Fred on the Blog
15 years ago

Justin,
I am just sitting here on pins and needles waiting to see what platform Ms. Morgan and the RI GOP leadership can come up with, Maybe they will ask our decisive Senator. Especially since none of there platforms have ever worked yet. And if they try to take credit for the Governor winning they (the party leadership) Supported Jim Bennet.

x-Man
15 years ago

Fred – Your comment about the the party leadership wrongly taking credit for electing the governor is a little incorrect. The party leadership at the time did support the governor’s primary opponent, but you must remember that when the governor came into office he purged the party leadership and installed his own people. So, really the people in there now are the governor’s people, people who I assume he put there because they supported and helped him, not his primary opponent. Remember Morgan is not a Bennet person, she is a Carcieri person, installed and kept there by the governor.

bosco "BA" Baracus
bosco "BA" Baracus
15 years ago

I was one of the 70 some -odd people at the breakfast (the rest of the A-team was fighting injustice in the West Bay) and came away with a couple of observations… 1) Justin is absolutely correct, why has the RIGOP waited until now to start developing a platform? is it because Jeff Deckman finally quit (that was a nice bomb-shell dropped by Morgan)? After hearing the speeches by both Bill Harsch and Steve Laffey, how can this party lack ideas for a platform? 2) Both speeches were terrific, if we had more candidates like Bill Harsch and Steve laffey, we could close the gap with the Dems. Laffey made a great point when he discussed his vision of building the part in RI, which included having a mission statement as to why people should be Republicans and of course, replacing liberal Senator Chafee at the top of the RIGOP ticket with someone who does not apologize for being a Republican (at the very least). 3) When Harsch rose to speak he got a standing ovation, not so for Laffey until the Laffey table (this guy always seems to bring a crowd) rose and clapped. At the end of his remarks, people got up and clapped immediately, this guy really strikes a cord by discussing real issues and why it’s great to be a Republican…it sure seemed like he changed some minds. 4) Patricia Morgan should be fired, the RIGOP has done NOTHING to grow the party under her “leadership” and seems to be scandal ridden (TV Ads, $500K for Chafee, etc.). Pattie, it’s time to go! 5) It probably was not too much fun being a Chafee person on Sat. AM. When you hear Laffey, he makes you feel good, like Reagan use to when he spoke, Chafee makes… Read more »

Justin
Justin
15 years ago

You people are amazing. The vitriol directed at Chafee is misplaced. He gets elected in a Democratic state and outside of the 20 people who post regularly, nobody thinks Laffey has a grasp on reality. Honestly, the Cranston rink fire, his statements about not wanting federal funding, and his terrible temper are really off putting. Not too mention he is way too conservative to ever get elected here. Remember that Chafee’s approval ratings statewide are second only to Jack Reed. Nothing to sniff off if we want to keep a GOPer in DC.

x-Man
15 years ago

All this talk about no platform for the RIGOP, which I agree with….isn’t that the governor’s responsibility? I think the governor is supposed to be the head of the party. He appointed Pat Morgan. Where is he in all this? How come nobody is taking him to task for installing Pat Morgan when he took office and again in in 2004? The governor is supposed to give the party a platform, not Laffey, not Harsch, not Chafee, not Long, not Watson, not anyone but the governor. I support the governor, but I just want to point out that everyone’s issue with no platform for the party rests with the governor, the leader of our party and the woman he put there to run it.

Justin Katz
15 years ago

I hate to interrupt otherwise constructive commentary for something like this, but assuming that you’re addressing me, let’s get one thing straight, Joe: Although I don’t consider Anchor Rising to be, strictly speaking, “my” blog, it is on my server, on my dime, designwise and technologically the product of hours of my effort, and (although only in part) a result of my further effort to organize and promote it. If you want to be spared my “mostly incomprehensible, pseudo intellectual babble,” you can go somewhere else.
This goes for other readers as well as Joe, and with reference to other Anchor Rising contributors as well as me: If you cannot muster respect for your hosts, then we will all be spared your commentary on this Web site.

Yolanda
Yolanda
15 years ago

Okay Chafee plant from post #4:
Justin – So, did last week’s talking point, “let’s nab Laffey for being too liberal” prove uneffective? (Re: Do RI GOP Members Want a “Bottom Up” or “Top Down” Party?, 1/4/06)
So, today we’re taking the “Laffey’s too conservative to get elected in a blue state” route?
1) This is unoriginal
2) This is flip-flopping the issue
As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Telmedo
Telmedo
15 years ago

Yolanda,
I happen to agree that Laffey is unelectible. I don’t particularly like Senator Chafee, but Laffey scares me and your fawning only gives crendance to my fears that aside from a small majority this guy just doesn’t have it. Admitedly, Chafee’s appeal stems from his name. But Laffey comes off as way, way, way, way off the reservation.
Lets discuss ways he could tone it down and start appealing to people who might be interested in joining his camp.

Marc
15 years ago

Yolanda,
As the writer of the post that you refer to as an attempt to “nab Laffey for being too liberal,” (Do RI GOP Members Want a “Bottom Up” or “Top Down” Party?) I can honestly say I have no idea what you are talking about. Read it again. No where does it come close to saying that Mayor Laffey is a liberal. (Though some of the commenters do.) It is a post about the corrupting influence of Washington, D.C. on a majority party and how such influence can move a party away from it’s base. In short, power gains primacy over ideals.

Yolanda
Yolanda
15 years ago

Well, Telmedo… Laffey’s already won 3 elections and has been twice elected as Cranston Mayor—saying he’s unelectable is a moot issue.
Otherwise, it is his loud and offbeat style that wins over supporters and gets people to take notice.
He’s not some cookie-cutter candidate, indistinguishable from the crowd. He’s motivating, energetic, and interesting to listen to.
Were you at this breakfast on Saturday?? It was clear as day that going in, a majority of the people there had their reservations towards Laffey. When he was introduced, it was a mild applause at best.
However, throughout his speech everyone was listening intently, there were several mid-speech applauses, shouts of “Amen” and the like… By the time Laffey finished speaking, it was an instant standing ovation (which wasn’t even initiated by the table of Laffey supporters).
Without a doubt, he won over that crowd. People listen to the Man with the Bullhorn—and if this breakfast was any indication, they are liking what they hear!

Yolanda
Yolanda
15 years ago

Hi Marc,
I wasn’t referring to what you wrote. I was referring to the first response made in that post by Chafee plant Tim.
quote: “Mr. Shirley is either too lazy to look into the actual liberal record of Steve Laffey…”
Now, less than two weeks later, Chafee plant Samuel is saying Laffey’s too conservative.

Yolanda
Yolanda
15 years ago

Chafee plant Justin… Excuse me.

Tom W
Tom W
15 years ago

If I may summarize the preceding posts: 1) There are those who honestly believe that RI is “so” Democrat / liberal (am I being redundant?) that no conservative has a realistic chance of being elected, at least not to statewide office. And so, the best we can hope for, is to elect moderate Democrats like Lincoln Chafee. My question to this group is: and to what end? Why even bother having a “Republican” party in Rhode Island? To eat the crumbs the Democrats throw? 2) There are those that believe that RI could actually be turned into a Republican state, or at least a state with a meaningful “real” (conservative) Republican presence. The RI Democrat party is now effectively a rubber stamp for two special interest groups – the public sector unions and the welfare lobby. Most “working family” Rhode Islanders not only don’t fall under the rubric of those two special interests (including unionized labor in the private sector), and are what used to be called “Reagan Democrats.” Between these “actual” “working families” tired of ever-rising property taxes funding welfare for illegal immigrants, and the corruption … and senior citizens tired of the same (indeed fearful of ever rising property taxes) … there are significant portions of the population could be peeled away from the Democrats. To us “#2’s” (I consider myself part of this) all it would take is for the RIGOP to show the courage of convictions (whatever those are currently remains a mystery as there is no platform or message) and the backbone to confront the Democrats and their special interest masters. The frustration among “#2’s” is palpable. As the reported comments of Rep. Long indicate, the RIGOP suffers from the political equivalent of the “battered wife syndrome” – they keep taking the beatings; can’t conceive… Read more »

Marc Comtois
15 years ago

Yolanda, Thanks for the clarification. I guess I missed that you were talking about the comments and not the post itself.

The Red Baron
The Red Baron
15 years ago

Chafee bloggers please stopping being repetitive.
1, The ice rink is a non-issue because the city had until 6/30/06 to make the changes.
2, Laffey is opposed to all pork spending, Chafee supports pork including $223 million for a bridge in Alaska. The bridge to nowhere is an issue in the Republican primary.
3, Laffey has been elected and re-elected by landslides in Cranston, which is a microcosm of the state.
4, Chafee camp is simply repeating the same points they always make- raise doubts on electability, and attack Laffey’s character.
5, Laffey talks about real issues, and is a real Republican on core issues: (war in Iraq, Alito, pork spending, voting for Bush).
6, Laffey’s approach will win the primary, Chafee’s will not.
Return to Chafee base (or college dorm room), and try again.

Jim
Jim
15 years ago

Justin, (this is directed at the Justin in post #4. Are you Justin Katz?)
Please give me an example of Laffey’s “terrible temper”, as you described it.

Leon Berg
Leon Berg
15 years ago

Steve Laffey has done more to energize the Republican Party of RI in 4 months of campaigning for US Senate than Ms. Morgan has done in 4 years of misguided leadership.
“The truth will set you free.”

ron milton
ron milton
15 years ago

Amen, brothers, I say amen. Justin will never provide anyone with any evidence of a bad temper by laffey because there is none, no tape on radio or tv or no press release. He’s got what it takes and I hear his speech was awsome!!!!
Why would anyone bother with some of these topics like electibility or some such. Noone CARES. They care about what you have done for them and what you will do.
To me Laffey is the best. His brain power is much higher than anything I have seen in politics and he is always one step ahead…. no three steps ahead of his enemies. Look how he out manuevered the crossing guard and their union bosses…Way, way ahead. Go Laffey Go!

Marc Comtois
15 years ago

To clarify: the Justin who posted comment #4 is not Justin Katz. The “Justin Katz” who posted comment #8, however, is indeed Justin Katz.
Hope that clears up what looks like to be some confusion amongst commenters.
(HINT: mouse over the name and an email address will pop up. Anchor Rising contributors uniformly use name@anchorrising.com)

warbucks
warbucks
15 years ago

As a concerned citizen who’s seen the fall and rebirth of Cranston, I have been to most public hearings and council meetings since 1999. I have seen Laffey outnumbered and under viscious attack. I have seen him respond to lies, slander and false accusations. But, I have never seen him lose his cool. Even when union neanderthal Paul Valletta threatened him with violence, Laffey was cool, calm and collected in a chamber packed with union thugs. Even though the Edgewood boys tell me the Mayor could have most assuredly and handily given Paulie a good woopin’, Mayor Laffey remained calm and professional throughout the ordeal.
Who at Chafee HQ came up with the “temper” smear. Lets stick to the issues and the facts. You guys are really desperate!
Chafee folks, please refer to http://www.electlaffey.com for facts and good ideas.

Justin Katz
15 years ago

You’ll understand then, Joe, if I decline to invite you to any dinner parties. Respectfulness, at least when requested by a host, is not a gift that a guest deigns to grant from a podium of judgment, but a tone conducive to constructive interactions. We operate this blog, as do most bloggers, out of a combination of interest in expression, passion for our topics, and desire to effect change. Your appeal to freedom and openness as the value of a blog is simplistic. I don’t presume to know why as many people read Anchor Rising, in particular, as do. Frankly, I suspect that my contributions are only minimally a reason. But I sincerely doubt, given the imbalance of readers to commenters, that the bulk of the former would find its value to be greatly diminished by this writer’s insistence that persistent tangential ad hominem is grounds for removal of commenting privileges. Surely you see that you did more than “point out a deficiency,” and perhaps you can perceive that you did so in a way that contributed nothing to the conversation except to further heel the rut of incivility that has too much characterized discussion of this primary race in these comment sections. Do you actually imagine that I’ve been writing for so long without having heard and understood the touch of truth in complaints such as yours? Do you not hear the tone of banality in your assertion about “straight talk” being what people want? Although hits and misses are to be expected, I’ve been doing just fine, writingwise. And anyway, at this point, I’m writing much more for the enjoyment and personal challenge of conveying something beyond A Message than for ego or remuneration. If you see it as immaturity that I refuse to allow comments to my… Read more »

rightri
15 years ago

I appreciate the opinions, thoughts, and dialogue of Anchor Rising, and enjoy checking in on a daily basis. But with all do respect, the pretentiousness of Justin Katz’ response makes his post far more offensive than anything Joe said. What a shame that you would insult those who participate in your site…the so-called “rut of incivility”. As a result of our remarks, which offer proof that elitism is not reserved for those on the left, I will be more hesistant to post what could be viewed as “simplistic remarks”. Is this the change you seek?

Justin Katz
15 years ago

RightRI,
You don’t agree that the comment section exchanges concerning the Senate primary race have at times been uncivil? I’ve said before that I’ve found their tone (on both sides) to be off-putting.
For clarification: I don’t believe that the commenters are a rut, but that they can fall into a rut of unproductive discussion. That’s an important distinction — one that conservatives ought to have no difficulty making.
I’m also not sure why you put quotation marks around “simplistic remarks.” I said that a specific comment of Joe’s took a simplistic view of blog readership, and I explained why. If you disagree with the point, say so, but if liberals’ behavior is to be the bogeyman, then I respectfully note that derailing discussion on the basis of a misconstrued word is among their favorite strategies.
As for the charge of elitism, I cannot do otherwise than deny it. (I’ve certainly no basis to feel like an elite.)

Jim
Jim
15 years ago

OK gang,
Let’s get back on topic here.
Justin (from comment #4), I still await your example of Laffey’s “terrible temper.”

Joe Mahn
Joe Mahn
15 years ago

Justin:
Sometimes our harshest critics just make us better. I have found that to be true in my experience.
On the other hand encouragement, when deserved, is a wonderful salve to many of life’s harshest tests.
In that regard I will say that I do concur with some of your commentary here and elsewhere.
As far as the unbidden editor and faux paternalism comment, are all respondents required to agree with everything you write? I think you are smarter than that.
To the other I say: “Luke, I am your father!”
Now jim is right. Let’s get back to the post #4 issue.
J Mahn

Justin Katz
15 years ago

But he was Luke’s father…
By the way, although Marc was mistaken about all Anchor Rising contributors’ using anchorrising.com email addresses, he was correct that I did not write comment #4.

stretch cunningham
stretch cunningham
15 years ago

Jason, I gotta tell ya. You come across as a know it all. I’m sure you mean well but the wordiness reallymakes you sound like you are talking down to the commenters. for what its wort, I thank you for the chance to doscuss the issues, but if you take a know it all approach, you are no better than the New York Times

stretch cunningham
stretch cunningham
15 years ago

justin, did I say jason? I was never that good with names do I am really sorry. You’re the man Justin, just try to keep it real. Not all conservatives are hi class intelectuals you know, many of your red states are full of blue collar workers like me who love America and miss Ronald Reagan and they are the oned eho have carried the ball for the GOP the past few years. the last thing they need is a lecture from somebody in a state that can’t gain seats in its legislature.

rightri
15 years ago

Accept my apologies. The quotation marks should have placed around the word simplistic and not remarks, but I believe my point remains. You dismissed another’s thoughts by declaring them “simplistic.”
By far the most painful of your comments was the one that accused me of using liberal tactics to misconstrue. Ouch. 🙂
Don’t mean to further derail political conversation. Please know that I appreciate your site Justin, as well as your opinions and writings. I will continue my daily visits. Thanks.

Will
Will
15 years ago

Well, I for one appreciate all the big words that you use, especially when they are used correctly. For those that cannot understand them, I have one word to say to you: THESAURUS!

Jim
Jim
15 years ago

Oh Juuuuuusssssstin, (from comment #4)
Maybe you think I forgot, but for the third day in a row, I am awaiting an example of Laffey’s “terrible temper” as you describe it.
Or, do I just assume that you can’t provide an example because you know that all you are doing is making up crap since you can’t debate the issues – right out of the liberals playbook.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.