Monday, October 19, 2015

Paging Governor Chafee: please return to the bench

After watching the Democratic presidential debate last week, I have only two words for Governor Chafee: please stop.
Every time he spoke — and mercifully it was infrequently — he hit a new low in presidential debate history. He declared himself “a block of granite” on the issues, claiming never to abandon his principles. When he was asked to defend two of his votes in the U.S. Senate, he pretty much said that he didn’t know what he was doing and abandoned his principles to follow the herd. Hmmm. His performance in this debate will go down as one of the worst in the history of televised presidential debates. He wanted a turn in the batters box to hit it out of the park with his anti-war message. Well he struck out and now needs to take a seat.
With just $11,000 raised in the last quarter (which is about what a state rep could expect to raise at a single event), less than 1 percent support and no staff to run his campaign, the Chafee campaign is now a cocktail party joke with nowhere to go but down. And while tittering “oh my gosh did you hear about what Governor Chafee said,” was a constant refrain in Little Rhody, my concern is that his presidential campaign is once again making Rhode Island a laughingstock. For many, it’s unfathomable that he was elected in statewide race twice. We know of course that he only won with a majority in one campaign but without saying “well Rhode Islanders were actually only crazy once — and we really were just hoping he was like his father,” the truth is that his campaign is making us all look dumb.
All evidence indicates that he’s planning to continue the campaign indefinitely. With personal wealth and nothing but time on his hands, I am sure he believes that this time is well spent even if there is no path to victory in one county of one state, forget about the Democratic nomination. I wonder if he has stopped to consider the implications for his family’s reputation or how he’s going to spend his time moving forward. His father was larger than life and I think many of us find it inconceivable that one of Rhode Island’s best and most honorable public servants could have raised such a stubborn “my-way-or-the-highway” politician. I have to believe that this folly will also impact the next chapter in his life. I can’t imagine too many universities will be lining up to ask him to join their faculties and teach the next generation of political leaders. I also feel for people who worked for him in D.C. or Rhode Island. Their experience on a senate staff or in a governor’s office becomes less valuable as Chafee becomes more and more bizarre, tainting their resumes forever.
Some say there’s nothing worse than seeing an athlete who doesn’t know when to quit, but watching Linc Chafee trying to run for president comes pretty close.

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