Hardball: 'Moderate, Bi-Partisan' Chafee vs. 'Hard-Line Conservative' Laffey

September 13th, 2006 3:16 AM

What would you call someone who, as per Project Vote Smart, within the last six years has received a 100% rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood and a 0% from the National Right-to-Life Committee? A 100% rating from the ACLU. A 0% rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. A 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters and a 0% rating from the conservative Family Research Council?

Oh, and someone who voted against George W. Bush for president in 2004, against the confirmation of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, and who demands the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq?

I'd call that person a liberal. Not MSNBC. Not Hardball. Not Chris Matthews's field correspondent David Shuster. The person in question is Republican-barely-in-name-only Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. How did Shuster describe him in a set-up piece for Hardball's discussion of the Rhode Island GOP senatorial primary this evening? A "moderate Republican."

But when it came to Chafee's opponent, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, Shuster painted an otherwise more radical portrait, branding him a "hard-line conservative" and an "anti-abortion crusader." When's the last time Shuster or any MSNBC staffer labelled a liberal Democrat a pro-abortion or even a pro-choice "crusader"? Just wondering.

Later, Shuster claimed that Laffey had "repeatedly hammered Chafee's bipartisanship on issues like immigration." I'd say it wasn't the bi-partisanship Laffey was criticizing, it was Chafee's weakness and laxity on border security.

Concluded Shuster: "The question is, will Republicans vote for pragmatism or ideology?" Little doubt as to what Shuster, Matthews, MSNBC & Co. think they should do.

Mark Finkelstein lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY. View webcasts of Mark's award-winning TV show 'Right Angle' here. Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net