Hats off to Chafee
On the other hand, if he really had wanted to oppose the Bush-DeLay-Frist triumvirate, he could have followed Senator Jeffords and switched parties. He would have been welcomed. Unfortunately, he must have believed his party's (rather un-American) rhetoric that the Democrats were a permanent minority, and knew that under the Republican reign, the minority would have no voice.
Nevertheless, Democrats owe Mr. Chafee a salute :
"The American people have spoken out against the president's agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy," the Rhode Island moderate told The Associated Press.Earth to Bush: Chafee is right, and has been right on a lot of things where you've been wrong. Stop doing things that America doesn't want. If you had listened, your party might not have taken such a "thumping."
"And at this late stage in my term, I'm not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against."
Oh well. The Republican party is going to have to rebuild itself, and I hope Chafee gets to play a role in that. I don't think the Republican party deserves to be the majority party for a long, long time, but our system is supposed to give the minority party a meaningful role in government. Everyone would benefit if the GOP was dominated by principled conservatives, instead of corrupt, cowardly and crazy assholes. "Bipartisan" should mean "ideologically neutral." For most of the last six years, it has meant GOP ideas with support from a few particularly craven, power-starved Democrats.
Unless the GOP reforms itself, "bipartisan" is going to mean a Democratic idea tempered with concessions to nutcases. I'd rather have Democratic ideas tempered by conservative ones. You know -- legislation that is the product spirited of debate, deliberation and careful weighing pros and cons. Whoever is in control, you can't have a serious debate, or the ideologically neutral legislation that comes from serious debate, without a willingness on both sides to play fair.
Chafee is one of the few Republicans that knows how to put doing-the-right-thing ahead of winning. But in January, he's gone. Hopefully there are others in among the smoldering remains of his party that will follow his lead, and play a constructive role by keeping conservative ideas part of the legislative debate.