Hugh Hewitt's Crusade Against Lincoln Chafee

Radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt makes no secret of his displeasure with the Senate’s most liberal Republican, Lincoln Chafee. So it wasn’t surprising to find a chapter devoted to the topic in his new book, “Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority.”

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Hewitt cleverly calls the chapter, “It’s No Longer the Party of Lincoln—Chafee, That Is.” And as he promotes the book, Hewitt has come out firing at Chafee, who faces a stiff test in Rhode Island’s Republican primary.

Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, who writes a weekly “Taxpayer Rip-Off of the Week” column for HUMAN EVENTS, hopes to collect enough votes in Rhode Island’s open primary to keep Chafee off the general-election ballot.

That’s not going to be easy with the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s bankrolling Chafee’s campaign. That has people like Hewitt incensed. So he’s taking his message to the airwaves—and now in print.

Here’s part of the transcript from Tucker Carlson’s program on MSNBC last night:

CARLSON: You make an interesting point in your book about the big tent theory. Both parties have it. Republicans, particularly. There are a couple conservatives still left in Congress who are Republicans, but there are a bunch of liberals, too. And there are some Republicans who you make the point aren’t really Republicans. Are they? What does it mean to be a Republican, and should they boot out people who don’t fit that description?

HEWITT: Yes, I think so. There’s a chapter in the book called, “It’s No Longer the Party of Lincoln—Chafee, that is.” Lincoln Chafee is not a Republican in anything except self description terms.

He voted against the war. He voted against the president’s reelection. He voted against Justice Alito. He voted—on every maiming issue he’s been wrong and he’s getting seniority.

I hope that the mayor of Cranston, who he’s running against, by the name of beats him in the primary. And if not, I hope Republicans vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is.

At the same time, it’s a pretty big tent, and I like Arlen Specter. I think he’s iconoclastic. He’s a little bit irritating often, but we need a big tent. But we do have to have an edge to the tent. And otherwise, you dispirit the base.

CARLSON: So what are the parameters, though, of that tent? I mean, what—define for me quickly and succinctly what it means to be a Republican, because I’m losing track.

HEWITT: You’ve got to be right on at least one of the big issues. The first big issue was the decision to invade Afghanistan, the second the decision to invade Iraq. A third big issue would be the confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts and the confirmation of Justice Alito. Those, and then finally, the reelection of the president. Those are four.

I also have one other test, and on this a number of conservatives fail. The Senate has adopted this obstructionism, this 60-vote obstructionism. And we have to break that rule. We have to get rid of the gang of 14. We have to get 60 reliable votes.

If you’re a Republican and you’re voting to filibuster, say, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, then people have to look very hard about what you’re about, because if you’re willing to throw party overboard, then you’re not a partisan.

And a lot of this book, Tucker, is about why parties matter. It’s not a dirty word to be a partisan. You’ve made a principled decision to win as often as you can. And a lot of Republicans think it’s like being a cafeteria Catholic, being a cafeteria Republican. It can’t be.

CARLSON: Interesting. I strongly disagree with you, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard your point of view articulated as well as you just did. And so I appreciate your explaining it. Hugh Hewitt, thanks very much.

This afternoon I phoned Chafee’s press secretary to see if he had any reaction to the book. No answer, but I left a message. And just in case he hasn’t seen it yet, I’m sending him a copy. I’ll keep you posted once I hear back from him.