The Unspokens of Politics

Charles Bakst correctly identifies one of the reasons I’ve been feeling more favorably toward Steve Laffey of late:

… the more Chafee attacks him, the cooler and calmer Laffey tries to come across in debates and ads.

More significant, perhaps, has been the gradual emergence of the oh-so-sincere face of Sheldon Whitehouse into view. Culpability may be mere matters of degree regardless of what happens, but I’d hate to find myself directly contributing to Whitehouse’s victory for the reason that I will be unable to bring myself to vote against him. Win or lose, a vote for the Republican will say as much as my single vote is able to say, and I simply will not vote for Chafee in the general election.
Whether a vote for Laffey will be part of a victory may, in small part, depend upon whether the mayor heeds — albeit, with a twist — Mr. Bakst’s warning:

YOU HAVE to wonder where all the Chafee-Laffey back and forth in the primary will lead in the general election as the Republican survivor goes head to head with Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.
I had occasion last week to touch on this subject, at least as it might relate to women, with Washington-based pollster Anna Greenberg. She did an extensive survey of women’s political attitudes here for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island. Greenberg, who also polls for Attorney General Patrick Lynch, found women are heavily into quality education, affordable health care, and secure retirement, issues that often have taken a back seat in the Chafee-Laffey primary to tirades against “special interests” and illegal immigration, debates over tax cuts, and squabbles about style.
Whoever wins the GOP race, Greenberg said, “there’s going to be some real work for the Republican nominee to pivot back to a conversation that’s more relevant to what sort-of-regular people care about, and I think that’s going to be a real challenge.”

I almost had to rub my eyes and reread the paragraph to believe that ostensibly informed people would see a need for pivoting in order to relate (on one hand) special interests, illegal immigration, and tax cuts to (on the other) education, healthcare, and retirement. I suppose that drawing the links for those who don’t see them (or alternately, providing them with spectacles) is partly our job as writers, but suffice to say that I find it not comforting in the least that such as Baskt won’t at least chip in toward the cause of honest comprehension… and that their audiences probably don’t want them to.

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Joe Mahn
Joe Mahn
17 years ago

Fortunately Laffey has a message, has claerly articulated it The Laffey Plan and continues to hammer it home (right after he spends a minute or two defending himself from Chafee’s attacks).
My question is how will Casablanca differentiate himself from Chafee (his mirror image) when Laffey directs the same questions at his positions that he directed at Chafee. Remember the two peas in a pod ad?
The general election battle with Whitehouse is the Primary battle with Chafee all over again.
J Mahn

17 years ago

Call me optimistic but I think Whitehouse is an easier target for Laffey than Chafee. Whitehouse has decided to position himself way to the left – in line with Lamont in CT for example, who BTW is already polling behind the man he beat in the Democrat primary.
But by some crazy fluke, were Chafee to win, and I seriously doubt that he will, especially after witnessing the ABC interviews today, I intend to write in John H. Chafee. Yes, I know he has passed on, but I would use the same reasoning that Linc used for voting for George H. W. Bush for Presidentthe son, George W.
The father, John, was a Republican who represented more of my views than his son, Linc. And I will be able to say that I voted Republican against Whitehouse.

David Davis
David Davis
17 years ago

Mr. Bakst is clearly riding the PROJO party line of saving one of their own.
It is too bad that they are a day late and a dollar short.
Mayor Laffey is going to win the primary convincingly and will then move on to take Whitehouse apart piece by piece. Shelly may have attempted to steal his plan but will not have done his homework to the extent that Mayor Laffey always does.

17 years ago

In keeping with Chuck’s comments, if Chafee were to win the GOP primary, I would have to really do some soul-searching in order to be able to even consider voting for him. As you may recall, I’ve previously admitted to actually having voted for Linc Chafee in 2000, to my utter regret. I was thinking of writing in George W. Bush, to kind of cancel-out Linc’s vote against the president two years ago. Fortunately for me, that’s becoming an increasingly less likely prospect, as we get closer to 9/12. As imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, I suppose Mayor Laffey should be very pleased that Lord Sheldon Whitebread is picking up on some of Laffey’s better material — making America more energy independent, or even permitting of group buying by Medicare for prescription drugs. I have also noticed that Sheldon has been tacking very far left as of late, as if he’s trying to “out-Chafee” Chafee for the liberal vote. One thing that’s worth mentioning, is that while Rhode Island is a generally Democrat state, it’s not necessarily a liberal one. We have a lot of social and otherwise fairly conservative Democrats, which when given a choice between a “limousine liberal” Democrat, and the “self-made” man from a blue-collar background, who happens to be a Republican, they really may end up going for the latter in much larger numbers than “conventional wisdom” might otherwise have us all assume. I don’t want to be accused of overconfidence, since we haven’t held the primary election yet, but the paradigm really appears to be shifting from whether Laffey is going to win it, to by just how much he will win it by. If Laffey is good at anything, it’s at shifting paradigms, by convincing us all to think… Read more »

17 years ago

more and more laffey appeals to the masses…..chafee and whitehouse have their core groups but laffey is geting the regular joe vote.
i think laffey is a nut but he has run agreat campaign, he will absolutely rip whitehouse to shreds. whitehouse has his core group of unions, minorities and old people and thats it!!!he won’t get any of the regular joe undecided vote. laffey must have a ton of dirt on whitehouse, pona case, lead paint case, etc ..he couldnt beat mryth york . he will be all done,finally.

17 years ago

People really are delusional.
Will, “the paradigm really appears to be shifting from whether Laffey is going to win it, to by just how much he will win it by.” Based on what?!?!
If you believe the most recent primary polls, Chafee is either up 13 (NRSC), down 17 (RIC) or in a dead heat (every other poll ever taken).
As for the big game, Laffey is still down 34+ points to Whitehouse and he was trending down, not up.

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