Former senator and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who has made the journey from Republican to Independent to Democrat, now wants to make it to the White House.
Chafee picked a wonky location for his announcement: George Mason University’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs.
“If we as leaders show good judgment and make good decisions, we can fix much of what is ailing us. We must deliberately and carefully extricate ourselves from expensive wars. Just think of how better this money could be spent. For instance, our transportation network is deteriorating and becoming dangerous,” Chafee said. “We should be increasing our investment and priority in public schools and colleges. This is especially important in some of our cities, where there’s a gnawing sense of hopelessness, racial injustice and economic disparity. We can and should to be better for Native Americans, new Americans and disadvantaged Americans.”
He added that he’s “also running for president because we need to be very smart in these volatile times overseas” — then launched into criticisms of Bush, Cheney and Mubarak.
“There were 23 senators who voted against the Iraq war in October of 2002. Eighteen of us are still alive, and I’m sure every one of us has our own reasons for voting no. I’d like to share my primary three,” he said. “The first reason is that the long, painful chapter of the Vietnam era was finally ending. This is my generation. And the very last thing I wanted was any return to the horrific bungling of event into which we put our brave fighting men and women.”
“…The second reason that I learned — the second reason I voted against Iraq War Resolution is that I learned in the first nine months of the Bush-Cheney administration, prior to September 11th, not to trust them.”
And the third reason “was based on a similar revulsion to mendacity.”
“Many of the cheerleaders for the Iraq War and the Bush administration had been writing about regime change in Iraq and American unilateralism for years. They wrote about it in the 1992 Defense Planning Guide, in the 1996 report to Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the 1997 Project for a New American Century, and in the 1998 letter to President Clinton,” Chafee said.
He called it “heartbreaking” that his colleagues in the Senate “failed to do their homework.”
“And incredibly, the neocons proponents of the war who sold us on the false premise of weapons of mass destruction, are still key advisers to presidential campaigns today,” he said. “…Let’s have a rewrite of the neocons Project for a New American Century. It is essentially the opposite sit of everything proposed in the original. We will be honest and tell the truth. We will be a good international partner and respect international agreement.”
Chafee is campaigning on a plan to “reinvigorate the United Nations and make the next 70 years even better.”
“I want America to be a leader and an inspiration for civilized behavior in this new century. We will abide by the Geneva Conventions, which means we will not torture prisoners. Our sacred Constitution requires a warrant before unreasonable searches, which includes our phone record. Let’s enforce that, and while we’re at it, allow Edward Snowden to come home,” he said.
“…I believe stronger efforts should be made to encourage Russian integration, into the family of advanced industrial nations, with the objective of reducing tensions with between Russia an its neighbors. To wage peace in our own hemisphere, I would repair relations with Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. As part of that rapprochement, let’s unite with all our experience to rethink the war on drugs.”
Chafee capped off his campaign promises with “a bold embrace of internationalism.”
“Let’s join the rest of the world and go metric. I happened to live in Canada, and they’ve completed the process. Believe me, it’s easy. It doesn’t take long before 34 degrees is hot,” he said. “Only Myanmar, Liberia and the United States aren’t metric. And it will help our economy.”
The Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson was able to ask former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley if he had a position on the metric system.
“No. I am not passionate about the metric system,” replied Chafee’s primary opponent.