2023 Too Late for 20-20 Hind Sight

On January 3, 2023, the U.S. Congress will convene for the first time after redistricting from the 2020 Census, and Rhode Island will likely have an at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. It will be the first time since the 2nd Congress (March 4, 1791 – March 4, 1793) that RI will only have only a single seat, joining consistent at-largers like Alaska, Delaware, Vermont, Wyoming, and the two Dakotas.

But who will the solitary U.S. Congressman from Rhode Island be? Will it be David Cicilline? In 2023, Cicilline will be 61 years old and possibly have represented RI-1st for 12 years. On the other hand, Jim Langevin will be 58 and have possibly represented RI–2nd for 22 years. Will these two mainstays of RI politics be forced to run against each other? 20-20 hindsight won’t help determine the RI Congressional delegation in 2023.

A lot may depend on the two United States Senators: In 2020, Jack Reed will be 73 years old and will have served in the U.S. Senate for 26 years, while Sheldon Whitehouse will be 67 years old and have served in the U.S. Senate for 16 years. However, as the U.S. Senate Election of 2020 is a Class 3 election, it is not an election year for either Senate seat.

It’s unlikely that any of the four legislators will lose their seat; the last sitting members of the RI delegation to lose an election were Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) 2006, Freddie St. Germain (RI-1) in 1988, and Eddie Beard (RI-2) in 1980. Retirement is also unlikely as John Chafee (R-RI) died in office after 23 years at the age of 77, and Claiborne Pell (D-RI) served 36 years before retiring age the age of 78.

Pell’s successor, Jack Reed, however, is a perennially mentioned as a Secretary of Defense nominee or as a Democratic candidate for Vice President. Perhaps if the Democratic nominee for president needs a seasoned partner to balance the ticket as Barrack Obama chose Joe Biden, the bottleneck of RI politics will be lessened. Otherwise, a fraternal fight is brewing among RI Democrats in 2020.






On the Alleged Equivalency of Benghazi and Niger



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As partisans begin to ‘circle the wagons’ around Trump one again, let me continue the Wild West metaphor by cutting the partisan interpretation ‘off at the pass.’ Niger and Benghazi are not synonymous. U.S. Senator Jack Reed’s criticism is about the release of information surrounding the attack on American soldiers. Reed’s criticism is bipartisan; it has been echoed by US Senator John McCain as well. Reed was on All Things Considered (10/20/17) and reiterated, this is about the Executive Branch’s responsibility to inform the Legislative Branch, even if it is behind closed doors. Furthermore, Reed said, this lack of communication has not been an issue before in his almost 20 years in the US Senate serving under other Administrations of both parties. I recently heard an attempted rebuttal of Reed’s criticism by a partisan who dismissed Reed because “where was he in Benghazi?” Let’s remember that the Senate is the grown-up half of the Congress… In 2012, Reed was not on the Senate Intelligence Committee which handled the Benghazi investigation in a bipartisan manner in one investigation, as opposed to the numerous and partisan House investigations. Furthermore, Jack Reed is one of the most honorable public servants I have met. The reason he didn’t way in as much on Benghazi was probably that he wasn’t assigned to the committee investigating. Today, however, Reed is the Ranking Member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee which *is* in charge of the situation in Niger. Instead of attacking bipartisan legislative criticism, perhaps our energy would be better spend on asking why there is so little Constitutionally-mandated communication from this Executive to the US Congress?

Vice-President Reed?

In regards to John Mulligan’s piece in Sunday’s Providence Journal (12/18/05), Senator Jack Reed (RI-D) is looking more and more like VP material. Let’s assume the 2008 race looks something like this:

The GOP race is being led by McCain and followed by the likes of Giuliani, Pataki, Romney, Frist, Gingrich, Brownback, Allen and maybe Rice. McCain is the favorite considering 1) his strong showing in 2000; 2) his quick exit in 2000 won him the thanks of GOP insiders; and 3) his strong military/international background is a key in an age of terrorism and the war in Iraq. [Incidentally, I would initially set Romney as the favored GOP VP nominee; his age, region and gubernatorial background would be the perfect balance to McCain’s background.]

The Democrats are being led by Hilary Clinton and followed by the likes of Kerry, Edwards, Warner, Bayh, Biden, Richardson, Boxer, Feingold, and maybe Obama. While Clinton is the favorite in a primary race, she would make a Mondale-like candidate in the general election because of her strong polarizing numbers. If she or Kerry wins the Democratic primary, Reed is out. [Obama would then become the leading VP candidate.]

On the other hand, were Edwards or Bayh to succeed, then Rhode Island’s own would be at the top of any VP short list. His military and Washington experience would off-set the Edwards (a one term senator) and Warner experience. His New England roots would be a regional off-set to Bayh and Edwards as well. [Were Romney, Pataki, or Giuliani to win the GOP primary, then Reed’s regional strength may be an even greater asset.]

RI was close to providing a VP in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson strongly considered Senator John Pastore. Is 2008, RI’s year for the big ticket?


Why Washington gives Jack Reed so much respect

“Jack sees things in Iraq that a lot of us don’t get to see,” said Sen. John McCain.

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 18, 2005
Journal Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Off a palm-lined atrium at Camp Fallujah last March, Sen. Jack Reed took the head of a long briefing table beside Gen. John P. Abizaid, his West Point contemporary who is commander of U.S. forces across the Middle East.

Near the foot of the table, a young State Department officer in desert camouflage spoke with feeling about the recent national vote for an interim government, clamorous neighborhood meetings and a promising hint of democracy rising from the rubble.

But if that promise was to be exploited, Reed remarked later that day, why was this young man the only U.S. Foreign Service officer assigned to nurture politics in the city?
Reed has invoked the image of the lone American diplomat in Fallujah more than once in recent weeks — along with other first-hand lessons from Iraq — as Senate Democratic leaders have thrust him to center stage to answer President Bush’s speeches on the war.

Top Democrats and a few Republicans credit Reed with a role in helping Congress to prod the Bush administration to own up to mistakes and explain its war policy in a recent string of speeches that he made in the advent of last week’s crucial elections in Iraq.

“Jack travels to Iraq, he has friends in Iraq, and because of his many connections, Jack sees things in Iraq that a lot of us don’t get to see,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
One of the things Reed saw and talked about earlier than most of his colleagues is that the war has become a classic insurgency and, as such, is impossible to win by military means alone. The U.S. enterprise rests on a tripod, Reed says, with economic rebuilding and political stability just as necessary as military success.

A similar thought is enshrined in bold letters on the wall of the Marine’s briefing room in Camp Fallujah. “Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not win it for them.” Those words are from T.E. Lawrence, the early 20th-century British colonial strategist, better known to moderns as Lawrence of Arabia.

As one of a handful of members of Congress whose first career was in the military, Reed has become highly valued to antiwar Democrats who understand their vulnerability to the charge of being soft on national security. His comparatively temperate line of criticism of the Bush administration is similarly helpful.

“Jack gives the other side credibility that they otherwise would not have,” said Sen. John Cornyn, a pro-war Texas Republican who sits with Reed on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

What Reed brings to his party’s side of the war debate is simple, said House Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada: “West Point. 82nd Airborne,” and the seriousness and the lifelong connections that go with such credentials.

When Reed traveled in Abizaid’s entourage last spring, he visited Fallujah, the city of Mosul in the north and other hot spots and sat in on hours of detailed briefings assembled for the man who commands U.S. forces from the Horn of Africa to Afghanistan.

Reed and Abizaid have known each other since they were young lieutenants together at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the early 1970s. Reed went on to become a company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division, and taught at West Point for about two years.

UNLIKE MANY contemporaries, however, he did not serve in Vietnam. Reed choose to become a lawyer, he has said, after it become clear that he was unlikely to rise to the top ranks of the Army.

The Democratic leader said he believes that because of Reed’s personal connections and his discretion, members of the military rely on him to alert Congress and the public to problems that are difficult for career officers to talk about publicly.

“He was the first one who came to me about the lack of armor for the equipment,” Reid said, referring to the Rhode Island senator’s report, shortly after the 2003 invasion, that U.S. military vehicles and troops were too vulnerable to the principal weapon of the nascent insurgency — roadside bombs.

Despite his vote against the war resolution that Congress passed in 2002, Reed generally avoided antiwar commentary in the months before the war. For much of the war, his criticism of the administration, though specific in its detail has been milder in its tone than that of many Democrats who opposed the invasion — with one major exception — the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

But since last winter’s initial Iraqi elections, Reed has increasingly sounded warnings that the pace of political and economic rebuilding in Iraq has lagged badly behind the U.S. military commitment.

OVER THE PAST few months, Reid and Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, have called upon Reed to hold a news conference to represent a Democratic point of view on the war.

Reed has delivered or has assisted in delivering the semiofficial Senate Democratic responses to each of Mr. Bush’s four speeches, in which the Democrats have always avoided talk of specific deadlines for troop withdrawals.

Reed also played a behind-the-scenes role in writing a Democratic resolution late last month that would have put the Senate on record as urging Mr. Bush, under certain conditions, to redeploy U.S. troops in Iraq.

“Jack’s not a cut-and-run guy,” said Cornyn. “But that was a cut-and-run resolution.”
The measure failed but put — along with growing public unease about the war — enough pressure on Senate Republicans that they offered a much less specific version of the measure that said 2006 should be “a year of significant transition” to Iraqi self-sufficiency.

Leader Reid said Reed of Rhode Island represents the party consensus — an assertion that some commentators call wishful thinking, in light of the calls by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and others for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops within six months. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has pointedly compared the war in Iraq to the Vietnam War and questioned the idea that the U.S. can win.

Democrats who think Reed “is not combative enough” should look at the turn the debate has taken in recent weeks and and credit the Rhode Islander with an assist, said Democratic leader Reid.

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, one of Reed’s closest friends in the Senate and one of the Republicans most critical of the conduct of the war, said Reed “is one of he most important congressional voices on national security” and has helped to craft a middle-of-the-road approach for Democrats.

Like Hagel, Reed has said he expects significant U.S. troop withdrawals over the coming year but flatly opposes complete withdrawal. An American presence may be needed for years, Reed has said repeatedly.

THOMAS DONNELLY, a military analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, called Reed “a solid guy” who could damage support for a long-term U.S. presence in Iraq if he joins other Democrats in pushing harder for U.S. troop withdrawals.

Donnelly criticized Reed and Levin for calling on Mr. Bush to demand that the new government in Iraq change the country’s new constitution in order to integrate Sunni Muslims more fully into the government. “It would be a huge mistake for Bush to get out front and dictate or seem to dictate policy to this free and independent government that we’re supposed to be celebrating.”

Reed has welcomed Mr. Bush’s recent efforts to lay out his war policy but has also used them as an occasion for finding fault. A recurrent theme has been what Reed portrays as Mr. Bush’s failure to be specific enough about the cost and duration of the American commitment that will be necessary to prevail in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Reed and his colleagues carefully avoid any such prescriptions. “He’s the commander-in-chief,” Reed explained recently.

Harry Reid said the public “is going to see more and more” of Jack Reed as a Democratic spokesman on Iraq. “I’m going to do everything I can to put him front and center.”


(An oldie but a goodie)
* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
*Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.Paraplegic from war injuries. Served in Congress.
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier’s Medal.
* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
* Chuck Robb: Vietnam
* Howell Heflin: Silver Star
* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

Republicans — and these are the guys sending people to war:
* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. “Bad knee.” The man who attacked Max Cleland’s patriotism.
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non- combat role making movies.
* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Vietnam POW, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit,Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. “Knee problem, ” although continued in NFL for 8 years as quarterback.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.
Pundits & Preachers
* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a ‘pilonidal cyst.’)
* Bill O’Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve.