This book is vintage Steve Laffey. Smart, energetic, and hard-hitting, the former mayor of Cranston presents a funny and well-written account of recent state and national political history. When national leaders attempted to get him to run for lieutenant governor instead of the U.S. Senate, he describes an awkward meeting with National Republican Senatorial Committee chairperson Elizabeth Dole in which she buttressed her argument against a Senate run by saying that she was a Christian and that somehow their shared religious values should lead Laffey not to run against Lincoln Chafee.
Laffey provides illuminating behind-the-scenes anecdotes such as the time in 1999 when presidential candidate George Bush was irritated with Chafee over the latterâ€™s weak defense of him on national television regarding alleged drug use during Bushâ€™s youth. â€œIs that asshole Chafee going to be here?â€? an exasperated Bush asks about an upcoming fundraiser in Rhode Island. â€œDo I have to (blanking) acknowledge him?â€?
But thereâ€™s a major deficiency as well, namely that Laffey is not very introspective about his Senate defeat. When Richard Nixon lost his first presidential race in 1960 and Bill Clinton was defeated as Arkansas governor in 1980, they searched for the reasons behind their losses, made significant adjustments, and went on to future political success. Based on this book, Laffey seems to have learned little from his own experience. [full text]
My favorite parts are: 1) where West refers to Laffey’s assertion that “aggressive bloggers” were one of the reasons he did not get elected to the Senate and 2) where West says that Laffey “glories in … disguised postings on local political blogs.” That, I gotta see. I’ll be requesting my copy of Primary Mistakes from the Cranston Public Library.