Lesser Son


In Thursday’s post, I mentioned posting on all of the Presidential candidates and said “I should write up my thoughts on Chafee before it’s too late.”

It’s too late.

During the Democratic debate, Lincoln Chafee seemed unimpressive, even among a field of candidates I was not planning on voting for. I summed up my thoughts on him in a tweet:

But Chafee’s confusion goes beyond the bewilderment he displayed on stage that night. Why did he even run? Molly Ball at the Atlantic has a very nice article on the question, but I don’t think she has an answer to the enigma. I don’t even think Chafee does.

Chafee’s father, John Chafee, seems like an impressive individual. Yale and Harvard Law, two tours in the Marines, a succession of elective and appointive offices as a Republican in a state that was even then heavily Democratic. This was a man who, had he run, could have attracted some support for President.

Chafee the younger shows more clearly than other candidates the problem with dynastic politics. Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Rand Paul all benefited from family connections. But each of them shows the individual qualities that, absent the dynasty, might still have allowed them to be successful in some profession. With Lincoln Chafee, it’s hard to make that argument.