By Alex Cheng
Lincoln Chafee is going to be the next President of the United States. I am his supporter.
I’m still buzzing from his dominant performance in last week’s Democratic debate and I can’t wait to share my favorite moments from that night with you. But before I get into that, here’s a little background on the Lincoln Log, in case you somehow don’t know much about him:
Lincoln Davenport Chafee is a politician and all-around genuinely nice dude from Rhode Island. He has served as Mayor of Warwick, as a U.S. Senator, and as Governor of Rhode Island. Long a liberal Republican, Linc, as his friends and political supporter know him, left the Republican Party in 2007 to become an Independent, then changed lanes again in 2013, joining the Democratic Party. Chafee is known for his many successful environmental protection and conservation initiatives, his love of the metric system, his spirited opposition to then-Governor of Rhode Island Don Carcieri’s ill-fated decision to lend baseball legend Curt Schilling $75 million dollars of public money to develop a fantasy RPG video game called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and the time he called Sarah Palin a “cocky wacko.” He was trained as a horse farrier.
Two years after declining to run for re-election as Governor of Rhode Island due to weak polling and fundraising numbers in his tiny home state, Chafee has decided to run for President of the entire United States. Sure, things might look bad for his presidential campaign right now – Chafee is polling at well under one percent and only 10 people have made major donations (in amounts over $200) to his campaign – but I’m confident everything will turn around soon and next January we’ll be seeing that inimitable smile (shame on you, Patton Oswalt!) on the western front of the Capitol Building being sworn in as President.
It’s obvious that Linc’s incredible debate performance will be a big part of this turnaround. Chafee demolished last week’s Democratic debate, and below, I walk you through his best debate moments. Prepare yourself for some Chafee-ing. (#FeelTheChafe.)
ANDERSON COOPER (on Chafee’s Glass-Steagall vote): Are you saying you didn’t know what you were voting for?
CHAFEE: I just arrived at Senate. I think we get some take-overs… It was my very first vote, and it was 92-5.
COOPER: What does that say about you that you were casting a vote about something you weren’t sure about?
CHAFEE: I think you’re being a little rough… My dad had died.
Okay, so Chafee – along with the majority of the Senate, mind you – voted to repeal the four provisions of the Glass-Steagall limiting affiliations between banks and securities firms, a vote that allowed the behavior in the financial industry that likely led to the late-2000s financial crisis. Not a great part of his record – but so what? I don’t support Lincoln Chafee because he’s competent, or for some other similarly elitist reason; I support Chafee because he’s a good guy who tries his best.
Anderson Cooper, don’t you understand that Chafee was a brand-new Senator and hadn’t yet had enough time to get up to speed on the intricacies of the complicated Glass-Steagall Act? So Chafee did the safe thing and followed the lead of a massive majority, exactly what you or I would have done in his place! I want our leaders to be everymen, not elite Washington insiders, and part of being an everyman is being no better at your job than I am at mine. And, c’mon, Anderson, Chafee’s dad had just died – respect the way Chafee is trying to block your inquiry with an appeal to pity and lay off the man! Lincoln Chafee did his best. His BEST. It’s right there in his inspiring campaign slogan. What more can we ask of our country’s leaders?
At least Martin O’Malley sympathizes.
COOPER: Governor Chafee, you and Hillary Clinton both voted for the Patriot Act…
CHAFEE (pleading, as if he was entreating a lover to stay the night): That was another 99 to one vote.
Typical mean-mugging Anderson Cooper, back on this lame “You voted with the majority instead of taking a stand for what was ethically and morally right” attack. Yes, Chafee voted to repeal Glass-Steagall, a terrible decision, but that was a 92-5 vote, and yes, Chafee voted in favor of the Patriot Act, another terrible decision, but that vote was 99-1. You can’t just go against everybody else in the Senate on big votes like these, no matter your ethical or moral reasons. It’s too dangerous! U.S. Senators are bullies. If they catch you rocking the boat, trying to do what’s right instead of what’s politically expedient, they’ll give you wedgies and dunk your head in the toilet. You know who cast that one vote against the Patriot Act? The eternally hassled Bernie Sanders. You can tell that the meanies in the Senate have been roughing him up for taking a stand. I mean, why do you think he always looks like he has a Van de Graaff generator hidden underneath his suit?
COOPER: You’ve only been a Democrat for little more than two years. Why should Democratic voters trust you won’t change again?
CHAFEE: Anderson, you’re looking at a block of granite when it comes to the issues—
COOPER: It seems like pretty soft granite.
Here, my boy Chafee DESTROYS Anderson Cooper. Granite is a rock, and rocks are hard, not soft, something that Chafee knows but Cooper doesn’t seem to realize. This is a masterful display of geological knowledge by Chafee.
[CHAFEE attacks CLINTON at length over email scandal]
COOPER: Secretary Clinton, do you want to respond?
[raucous laughter and applause]
[CLINTON puts on pair of sunglasses, mounts sweet Harley, rides off into sunset]
This moment in the debate honestly warmed my heart because it was the moment when Chafee was finally welcomed into the cool Democrats club. Throughout the night, it seemed like Cooper, Clinton, and Sanders refused to treat Chafee as an equal. But here, at last, Clinton and Chafee shared a special moment, laughing together over this joke that both of them definitely were in on and had planned together.
Even Martin O’Malley was having a little fun!
CHAFEE: But what I’m most proud of is that in 30 years of public service, I have had no scandals.
It’s with a heavy heart that I note this line of Chafee’s closing statement. Overall, I think his closing statement was excellent. He made some great points about his reputation as a peacemaker and landed some extremely dynamic hand gestures.
But this line hurts because it’s the one line all night that I have to fact check Chafee on. Chafee’s record is actually blemished by one dark scandal: while mayor of Warwick, Rhode Island, Chafee used taxpayer money to buy frogs and toboggans. Chafee defended the frog purchase in 2000 by noting that “[h]aving an aquarium with fish and frogs in it was very, very popular with the children” who visited City Hall, and while this is a strong point, I can’t help but feel that this was still a poor use of taxpayer dollars. It’s sad to say, but this might be the issue that derails Chafee’s otherwise unstoppable race to the Presidency. I mean, this is the only reason that I can think of for Chafee to drop out of the Presidential race. The only reason. This reason, and no other. There’s no other conceivable reason for him to stop running for President.
“The Lincoln Chafee supporter” appearing in this work is a fictitious character. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. If you know a real person who you believe resembles “the Lincoln Chafee supporter,” this may be a sign that you have masochistic friends.
Contact Alex Cheng at aexcheng ‘at Stanford.edu.