Lincoln Chafee. Linc Chafee. Good ‘ole Linc. Third generation governor, beneficiary of Rhode Island's evident dedication to a grand tradition of near-monarchy, and member of any political party that will have him. Since we already delved into the biography of his Andover classmate Jeb!, let’s take a closer look at Linc, the aristocrat on the other side of the aisle.
The Jeb Years
Lincoln in 2001 on classmate Jeb!: “If you found him sitting, it was further toward the freak end of the dining room...He was kind of a slob, actually.”
Lincoln in 2015 on classmate Jeb!: “In the 10th grade, we were in a dorm with only 11 students. In the course of that year, we got to be good friends, I’d say.”
Jeb! in [any year] on classmate Lincoln: “[crickets]*
That sort of sums up Lincoln right there: idealistic, indecisive, irrelevant.
According to the Chafee of 2015, who for some unknown reason feels the need to lie about his alleged friendship with Bush, their relationship was built on “national issues, then, with Vietnam and so much going on. Both our fathers were Republicans, so we had something in common.” Since Bush is famous for not taking an interest in any of these things, we’re left to assume that Lincoln now thinks having been friends with perma-stoned Jeb! will make him seem cooler to voters and less like the diligent and uncreative aristocratic son that he is.
Hoofish and Lame
After attending all the pre-ordained fancy schools, Lincoln wandered off the family-appointed track for a bit and spent his rebellion years in Bozeman, Montana, where he grew his hair out, harvested his own marijuana, and made a living cleaning out roof gutters and selling "magic" brownies to local townsfolk. KIDDING. Chafee did something worse to any WASP worth their salt - he learned a trade. After studying classics at Brown, Chafee went to Montana State University where he became a horse farrier (a kind of blacksmith that makes/fits horseshoes...we didn’t know what that was either). He spent seven years working at racetracks and even got a mention in a magazine that is literally titled Hoofcare & Lameness: The Journal of Equine Foot Science. We can say with 100% certainty despite doing no research on the matter that the Chafmeister is the only presidential candidate to make an appearance in Hoofcare & Lameness, so at least he is notable in some regard and that’s a little relieving when you think about it.
Dynasty: The Rhode Island Edition
The Chafees are one of the “five families” that have famously controlled Rhode Island since the Depression era. Chafee’s Rhode Island dynasty in particular stretches back to his great-great-grandfather, former Governor Henry Lippitt, the WASP-person forefather of the formidable Chafee clan. After what must have been a very disappointing run with his grandfather and great-grandfather, two nobodies that none of us remember, Chafee’s father, John Chafee, took up the family mantle, serving as a Republican Governor and a US Senator for the state. Linc’s father kicked the bucket while in office and his son was appointed to his Senate seat by hilariously-named then-governor Lincoln Almond. The Linc-son got to Congress just in time to vote in favor of repealing the landmark financial regulation package Glass-Steagall without reading it first. He’d like us to understand, though, that he was sad at the time and therefore unable to read legislation before voting on it. Serving in the Senate can sometimes just be a little overwhelming, guys. So can reading. Jobs are tough. Let’s nap.
Voting for President
John McCain may have famously called himself a maverick, but Lincoln Chafee is the only person in Congress/America who was maverick-y enough to write Poppy Bush in for president in 2004. He, like many of us, thought George Jr. was kind of an idiot, but his logic quit right there. His allegiance to Poppy, whose brief time as president served as training ground for every evil member of George Jr’s cabinet, is curious and maybe even a little entertaining, but whatever it is, it' not smart policy.
If there is one thing Lincoln is famous for, it’s having been a member of every single political party at some point in time and being the one person who can remind us that the “New Democrats” have more in common with the “Old” Republicans than the progressive left.
Though a Republican by birth and breeding, Lincoln grew increasingly marginalized in the Senate in the mid-2000s, eventually earning the nickname “the missing Linc” because he never voted with his own party and was just a generally confounding and not nearly racist enough presence in the caucus. He even voted against the Iraq war unlike one Hilz Clinton, saying, “I had learned in the nine months of the Bush-Cheney administration prior to September 11 not to trust their word.” He refused to go so far as to hand a majority to the Democrats in 2001, however, staying with the GOP in that year’s evenly-divided Senate and waiting to leave the party until after he was was defeated for re-election by an actual Democrat, Sheldon Whitehouse.
Chafee officially left the GOP in 2007, launching an independent bid for Governor. Since being governor of Rhode Island was his birthright, the citizens of the pro-monarchy state had no choice but to elect him and deal with his weak leadership for a while because sometimes you have to just humor your aristocrats. The most famous controversy he presided over as Governor involved his referring to a Christmas tree as a “holiday tree” and getting branded “Governor Grinch” by a bunch of his former Republican brethren and Fox News pundits. You know, classic governing business.
Later, after voting for Obama twice and serving as a co-chair for the 2012 Obama campaign (and of course also getting a ton of annoying calls from former head of the Democratic Governor’s Association, future presidential primary opponent Martin O’Malley) the Chaf-man switched parties once again, becoming a Democrat in 2013. Now that he’s exhausted all the main parties, it’s unclear where he’ll head next. Perhaps it’s time to start his own party? If so, we’d recommend they call themselves the Lincoln Logs and be pro-toy and anti-idiot brothers.
Lincoln was one of the richest members of Congress while he served, and he and his wife continue to be worth over $38 million. Luckily, when you’re that rich, you can run for president without supporters. He’s essentially self-financing his run -- Chafee has famously only made about $30,000 in donations so far (Sanders, by comparison, made more than $3 million in the three days following the first debate) and isn’t really actively seeking more money so much as activities to fill his day and places to be invited to.
If Chafee’s current, somewhat head-scratching run for president is remembered at all, it may well be for his militant support of the metric system. His campaign announcement was basically a policy speech about switching to the measurement system favored by the rest of the world, and he doesn’t have much else to stand on other than being unintentionally funny in a clueless kind of way. Since we’ve repeatedly gone on the record stating our distaste for the metric system, we’ll say here that this, in our minds, is enough to disqualify him from higher office. (SHUT UP SCIENCE PEOPLE!)
Does anybody know where Linc’s FB password went? His wife is looking for it.