The 'purge' not worth mentioning (RI)

Remember just last month, when it seemed half the punditocracy was raising the alarm about the ‘purge’ of the Democratic Party’s moderate wing, as evinced by Ned Lamont’s primary campaign against Joe Lieberman?

Right-wing candidate Steve Laffey is trying to unseat moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee in a RI Senate primary, and you can hear the crickets chirping.

Chafee is one of the few remaining GOP moderates in the Senate, yet there’s no alarm about this attempt to remove him.

I guess the purge of the GOP centrists is just business as usual. Nobody’s talking about how bad it would be for the country, and nobody’s talking about how it will make GOP candidates less electable as the party rejects the center in favor of the extremes. David Broder, Joe Klein, and all the other Thoughtful Moderates have nothing to say.

Can you say, “double standard”? I knew you could!

I should add that Laffey’s candidacy is endorsed by the Wall Street Journal, which considers this primary “the first skirmish in a very important battle” for the soul of the GOP, and the Club for Growth is running pro-Laffey ads attacking Chafee. So this is no more a purely local affair than the Connecticut primary was.

chirp chirp

Well, duh. It’s OK if you are a Republican. Were you only born just yesterday?

And quite frankly, I’m not too worried about paying attention to the good advice of Republicans on what we Democrats should do with our party.

Yeah, and late in the day, too. Maybe even early this morning. :smiley:

Oh, I agree. The phrase I’ve seen elsewhere is “concern trolls.”

Still, some of the ‘Republican’ advice comes from supposed Dems like Broder, Joe Klein, Marshall Wittman, and the usual suspects at the DLC and The New Republic. I mean, pretty much every pundit to the right of E.J. Dionne, Jr. was pushing the panic button over Lamont and the ‘fever swamp’ of his netroots supporters. So you’d expect some of them to at least claim to be concerned about the GOP purge of its moderates.

RTF: Can you clarify how you determined that Chaffee was a “moderate” Republican?

I believe he is on record as opposing the bombing of abortion clinics – during business hours when people might get hurt. If that’s not a moderate Republican, I don’t know what is. :wink:

For the purposes of this discussion, what difference does it make? If Chaffee is being purged by the rightward wing of his party, just as some argue that Leiberman was purged by the leftward wing of his party, are not the two cases exactly comparable?

Are you from RI, RTFirefly? As far as I can tell, there isn’t any news coverage of the contest because Laffey has absolutely no chance. He’s kind of a joke around here.

John Mace, Chaffee has a record of protecting women’s reproductive rights, at least. He is/was supporting legislation that would limit pharmacist’s ability to refuse to fill a birth control prescription. He’s fiscally conservative but is more socially liberal than many of his political party. He also was the lone opposing Republican to the bill to invade Iraq, voted against the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and is for stem cell research.

From the Post article linked in the OP:

And now I’ll stop pretending I’m RTFirefly, though I must admit I’ve quite enjoyed it.

Well, that’s a joke but there is some truth in there. The Republicans have become a much more right-wing party in the last few decades, and someone like Chaffee sticks out more than he would have 30 years ago. “Moderate” is a relative term, and compared to the his fellow Senators, he seems uniquely outside the distribution. I say “seems” because I haven’t seen an overall quantification of his voting record, and am making that observatio based on the few things I know about him. I’d be interested in seeing such an analysis to see where he stands. Does such an analysis show that his overall position puts him inside the Republican distribution, or is he an outlier?

Depends. Lieberman is unique among Senate Democrats in his enthusiastic support of Bush’s Iraq war strategy (if there even is a strategy). To the extent that Lieberman was booted for that position, there aren’t any other Dems who might be on the chopping block-- it was just getting rid of a single outlier. But to the extent that he was booted because he was, overall, too conservative that has implication that a larger purge might be underway since there are other Democratic Senators who are as conservative or more so than JL. How, for instance, can JL be “too conservative” but someone like Ben Nelson is not. Or what about Casey in PA-- the Democrat running against Santorum?

Chaffee, too, is unique wrt to Bush’s Iraq war in that he is the most outspoken Republican opponent in the Senate. However, is there any Republican Senator who is as liberal or more so than he is overall? I don’t think so*, so there isn’t any reason to think that booting LC because he’s too liberal will necessarily mean anyone else will be targetted as well. Perhaps it’s just that the larger purge of Republicans has already been done, and LC is the only guy left. The Republicans gained a lot of power by embracing the more right-wing elements and shifting the party to the right. But it’s starting to look like they went too far for their own good (Schiavo, stem cells, Iraq, etc.), and the country is starting to reject them.

So, yeah, in one sense it’s the same thing. But in Lieberman’s case one might reasonably ask: What are the implications for the Democratic party as a whole? In Chaffee’s case, one can ask that question, but the answer is: probably none, because he looks like a real outlier. In fact, it looks to me like he’d fit right in with the DLC type Democrats. You know them-- the ones that can actually get a president elected! :slight_smile:

*note the caveat in my response, above, that I’m going on a general impression and not an objective evaluation of LC’s voting record. If his voting record does show him to be within the Republican distribution, and that there are other Senators in that party as liberal or more so, then I agree it’s exactly like the situation wtih JL.

But I think the point was that even if Laffee wins the Republican nomination, he won’t win in the general. Lamont, OTOH, would trounce his Republican opponent (if LJ dropped out of the race). There aren’t many registered Republicans in RI, so that primary willl be only a tiny sampling of the voters.

I agree there is a double-standard here, but I do think Lieberman generated a lot of the attention by his stubborn refusal to abide by the democratic process. Chafee isn’t so self-important that he’s considering abandoning the party that supported him to launch an independent bid because he’s so damn important to America.

I don’t thinK Lieberman’s abandoning the democratic process by running as an independent. I wish more competent people would do it.

I do think Lieberman is an ungrateful backstabber, however.

Well, Lieberman is abandoning the Democratic process, but not the democratic process. There’s nothing undemocratic about running as an independent and he’s very popular in CT-- he has a chance of winning.

I have no problem with people running as an independent. Reasonable people can of coure disagree, but I think it is undemocratic to run in a primary, lose, and then give the finger to the primary results and decide that the fair loss is not worth accepting. If you’re not going to accept the results of an election, don’t run.

??? If anything is “undemocratic” it’s the party process itself, which locks in a power struggle between only two parties. The primary vote in CT represented only a minority of a minority-- those who register Democrat (a minority of all voters) and those who voted in the primary (a minority of registe red Democrats). You might be able to make a case that it’s unethical of Lieberman to do what he’s doing, but no way is it undemocratic. Lieberman did accept the resulst of that “election”-- he isn’t running as a Democrat, which is the only thing that election did (elect the Democratic candidate).

If the party bosses had stepped in and said: we’re going to put Lieberman’s name on the ballot for the Democrats in November, and he agreed to that, then we’d be seeing something undemocratic.

I agree, and the Democratic party bosses ARE threatening to, in effect, step in and nullify primary results in the next presidential primaries. Here’s a thread I started about it a week or so back. You didn’t exactly agree with me back then.

That’s because they were talking about making changes that would make the process more democratic, not less so. There’s nothing inherentely democratic about a “New Hampshire must go first” policy.

So they throw out primary election results if the state governments won’t hold the elections on the date the national party prefers. Even if states’ laws dictate the dates and the state parties can’t change it.

Oh yes, clearly very democratic. My mistake. Carry on.