"Former GOP senator calls Palin a 'cocky wacko'" teased the Chicago Tribune on its online front page. Curious as to who that might be, I clicked the link to find out who.
Let's just say I didn't exactly spit out my coffee when I read the Associated Press story only to find out the culprit is none other than former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (RINO-R.I.).
Of course, for those like NewsBusters readers who are well-informed and politically engaged, the only thing Republican about Linc's name is, well, his first name. But your average newspaper reader is likely unfamiliar with Chafee, particularly in a story carried over a national news wire.
Yet the reader doesn't get any hint of his leftist voting record in today's five-paragraph Associated Press article:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Former Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee has called vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a "cocky wacko" and said her selection as John McCain's running mate has energized supporters of Democrat Barack Obama.
Chafee left the Republican Party last year after losing his bid for re-election and now supports Obama. He told an audience Tuesday at the New America Foundation in Washington that the Alaska governor has revived a "lackluster McCain candidacy."
"They've just thrown this firestorm, this tornado, into the whole presidential election," Chafee said in response to an audience member's question about whether the Obama campaign should worry about Palin's presence in the race.
He said her speech at the Republican National Convention had the unintended effect of energizing Democrats and Obama supporters.
"People were coming into my office, phone calls were flooding in, e-mails were coming in, 'I just sent money to Obama, I couldn't sleep last night' — from the left. To see this cocky wacko up there," Chafee said to laughter.
Keep in mind Chafee has a lifetime American Conservative Union ranking ranking of 34.7% and a liberal Americans for Democratic Action of 80 percent in his last year in office (2006), which was an uptick from his 2005 score of 75 percent. Chafee's ACU in 2006, when he was up for reelection, was a paltry 24 percent.
By contrast, other liberal Northeastern Republicans look like Rush Limbaugh by comparison to Chafee.
Sen. Arlen Specter, no favorite of conservative -- and especially pro-life -- Republicans only had a 30 percent ADA rating in 2006, while Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins earned a 45 percent ADA rating in 2006.
Aside from being extremely liberal, Chafee has a record of disloyalty to the Republican Party, making his anti-Palin comments all the less newsworthy. Not only is Chafee backing Obama, in 2004, just two years shy of a hard-fought re-election campaign which he of course lost, Chafee not only did not vote for President George W. Bush for reelection, he went public in November 2004 with news that he wrote in the elder Bush in protest and that he was flirting with leaving the GOP:
PROVIDENCE (AP) - Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee said he would consider switching parties if President Bush is re-elected.
"I'm not ruling it out," Chafee told The Providence Journal.
Chafee, known for moderate views that often run counter to the Bush administration, also said he cast a write-in vote for Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, in Tuesday's election. He said it was a "symbolic protest."