A Moderate Afternoon
Owing to the moderately light traffic, I’ve arrived moderately early for the Moderate Party kickoff event at the Everyman Bistro. Actually, part of the reason that I made such good time was that I’ve been here before. In one of those small-Rhode Island coincidences, I actually met RI Future administrator Brian Hull here for dinner in the autumn. (I initiated the meeting; he chose the location.)
Mine was the third name on the “press” sign-in sheet, and although I didn’t devote too much energy shuffling through my disorganized memory for names, I didn’t recognize the other two, but the flow of people into the joint has been steady since I arrived.
It’s a funny experience, to set up at these things. Since last summer we’ve increasingly been treated as official members of the press. But then I set up with the cheap little netbook and the tiny camcorder, my shoelaces thoroughly frayed and holy sweater, and the “press pass” around my neck feels kinda inappropriate.
Perhaps I should begin droppin’ my Gs in order to make the whole thing seem like a conscious imaging plan, rather than a consequence of limited funds and a sparse wardrobe.
They’ve pretty well packed the place, although it’s small and three candidates and a new party really shouldn’t have had any trouble filling it. Not very many familiar faces, although that’s probably more a measure of my lack of networking rather than the party’s lack of connections. WRNI’s Ian Donnis is walking around. So is Arlene Violet. Republican Representative Brian Newberry is here, undercover, as it were. A registered Republican who recognized me from Tiverton is here to check things out. That’s about it, so far.
Moderate Party Communications Director Kate Cantwell just took the podium to say that the program would start shortly and to request a moment of silence for the victims of the Station Nightclub fire. I know we’re somewhat near the anniversary of that tragedy, but I’m not sure what the connection is.
Executive Director Christine Hunsinger opened up the speeches with the message, essentially, that the party is made up of newcomers and motivated novices. Outsiders.
Next up is the new chairman Robert Corrente. He’s offering a typically Republican assessment of the state’s problems. If you’ve read Ed Fitzpatrick’s column today featuring Corrente, you know what he’s saying.
Passing note: An Anchor Rising reader just introduced himself and gave me a matchbook from the Reagan/Bush ’84 campaign. Really neat. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere about Anchor Rising setting Rhode Island on fire, but politics is such a litigious game that I’ll work on the metaphor carefully before unleashing it.
There’s something telling in the fact that Corrente just expressed outrage about legislative grants. Good thing we’ve got a budding Moderate Party to raise that sort of issue, huh?
So far, Corrente’s just stealing the low-hanging fruit of the RIGOP’s message. I suspect that the effect of having two parties that are mainly distinguished by the fact that they are not each other will allow the Democrats to jump in with a smarmy “Hey, us, too” and eliminate the strength of the civic complaints.
“You don’t have run as part of the monolith, and you don’t have to run as part of the dysfunctional group that would rather spend time bickering internally.” Lot of scorn in his voice on the second clause. I take it that Corrente’s not interested in attracting the votes of Republicans who aren’t necessarily bitter and hateful about their party. The vibe I’m getting from him is that he’s interested in actively pulling voters away from the GOP rather than fostering a cooperative front against the Democrats. That could be significant in races that lack Republican candidates and Republican voters have a bad feeling about the Moderates.
AG candidate Chris Little didn’t really say anything unexpected, although he wasn’t hostile to anybody other than the current AG. Lt. Gov. Candidate Jean Ann Guliano is essentially suggesting that the Moderates can accomplish all of the obvious repairs to the civic culture without partisan baggage and bickering. You know, because the Democrats and the Republicans will see that the Moderates are really just uniters… new kids with whom everybody can work. Right?
Guliano is a Gist supporter. Funding formula. You know, so far I don’t see the argument for a Moderate Party other than avoiding Republican and Democrat primaries.
Ken Block is expressing his centrist extremism, as if we who are ideologically firm on the left or right are some insignificant niche, while most everybody else is ideologically pure in the center.
“I will find common ground with everyone!.” Cue bluebirds.
Ken’s first step as governor: Ask for federal money and issue bonds to invest in business. He’ll then create business zones. Actually a surprisingly government-heavy solution.
“We must take every step to increase our tax base” to continue paying for welfare services.
- A reader points out that simultaneous to the Moderate Party event, there was a memorial for the Station Nightclub, thus explaining the moment of silence.
- Andrew and I were able to interview each of the candidates. I’ll have that video, as well as full video of the event, up soon, hopefully by morning.