Whitehouse Supports Carcieri?
While running errands on my way home from work yesterday afternoon, I heard Sheldon Whitehouse explain to Dan Yorke’s radio listeners that balance between the parties is important in the federal government (from part 2 of Yorke’s streaming audio):
… right now the Republicans have a monopoly on power in Washington. They do not provide any significant check on George Bush and his administration. They’re trying to create what is essentially an accountability-free zone down in Washington for George Bush’s policies. And it’s the most partisan and toughest, meanest group you’ve ever seen. And the only way — you know, for six years people have had a chance to have them listen to other ideas, or to have them come and work with the Democrats on solutions to problems, but when they have all the power, and they don’t want to listen, and they don’t want to work with people, there’s only one way back. And that’s to make sure that the institutions of government in Washington are balanced, and in fact that there’s some Democratic aspect to this.
One very disappointing observation about Whitehouse’s performance — especially in context of the broader Democrat message — is that the Democrats are not asking why American voters have taken all majority power away from them. Oh, you get the standard allusions to fear-mongering on the part of the Republicans, but that only emphasizes the absence of any admission of the responsibility that an active opposition party inherently must claim. It only emphasizes that the Democrats are essentially fear-mongering in turn, with, as Yorke pointed out, the Republicans as the villains.
He may do so only out of necessity, but at least Chafee is willing to discuss the trends and shifts within his own party and explain where he sees his role as being. The fact that the Democrats won’t even hint at the possibility of evaluating their own trends and shifts explicitly to “bring voters back” within their fold — nevermind correcting problems within their own party — is worrisome.
My second observation of Whitehouse’s appeal to the distribution of power is that, in taking up such a message, Rhode Island Democrats are walking a very fine line. To the extent that it has merit with respect to the federal government, it has at least an equivalent degree with respect to our state government. If they succeed at implanting that principle — that mode of political thought — in voters’ minds, they will undermine Charlie Fogarty’s campaign for governor.
Personally, I think that would be a positive development; for Rhode Islanders, Governor Carcieri’s loss would be much more damaging than Senator Chafee’s.