Straight Up The Middle

Please enjoy your retirement

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After what seemed like the eternal offseason, spring training is here and everything is "normal." The reports out of Jet Blue Park are good — a slimmed down version of Pablo Sandoval arrived and will be our starting third baseman, our fantastic outfield full of baseball players with B names is running drills and Dustin Pedroia is the team anchor at second. The start of the post-David Ortiz era is beginning with remarkably little drama.

But can you imagine what it would be like if Bobby Valentine suddenly returned as manager? He was a disaster from start to finish and the Red Sox ended the season with their worst record since 1965. If he sprung out of the dugout during spring training, it would be like Linc Chafee returning to the Rhode Island political scene. These were the thoughts going through my head when I saw that former Governor/Senator Lincoln Chafee popped up in the news criticizing Governor Raimondo and then appeared on a political talk show. He certainly sounded like someone coming out of retirement. He was then spotted on a flight to Washington — with just a briefcase — a good sign of a down-and-back trip to meet with someone about something. Yikes.

Back in 2013, he announced his decision not to seek re-election, petulantly citing "irrational negativity" among Rhode Islanders. Chafee, fondly known as "Goldilocks" in some political circles, (for repeatedly changing his party affiliation) held that press conference at the DMV to highlight all the good things he had accomplished there. I'm guessing that he hasn't been back to the DMV since then because the new computer "upgrade" that was supposed to be the Chafee legacy has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. The project is STILL not done and the poor performance has forced the Raimondo administration to sue HP. Speaking of unmitigated computer disasters, that UHIP program that everyone is talking about — yep, that was another Chafee administration initiative. Obviously, the job of every administration involves taking the government how it was left to you and making it better, so I am not absolving the current administration of their part of the blame, but it is unprecedented — and frankly, irrational — for a former governor to return to the public eye and blame his successor for a problem that he created. To quote our new President, "Sad!"

Throwing stones at Governor Raimondo is odd, but Chafee's comments praising President Trump were just plain alarming. Whether you love him or hate him, I think most Americans are a bit uneasy about our new President's Russian ties and the military posturing that has occurred in recent weeks. There is evidence that the Russians interfered in our election — whether they impacted the outcome remains to be seen —and that they would like to continue to have a strong influence in our government. There is no foreign policy expert that believes the Russians are allies, so why would Chafee praise Trump for the one thing that most people and experts agree is truly a problem for the administration? Only Linc Chafee knows.

And how can we forget the 2016 Chafee presidential campaign? The United States faces many pressing issues like a fractured immigration system, unaffordable healthcare, a weak economy, children's hunger, gender inequality, racism and an underperforming educational structure and Linc Chafee chose to spend his energies on the metric system. That's right folks, don't forget that he used the spotlight of a presidential campaign to waggle his finger at America and talk about the importance of being able to measure things in centimeters and grams.

What's he thinking about running for? Only he knows what's in his head, but he could be eyeing the governor's office or a seat in the U.S. Senate — both of which will be contested in 2018. I think Rhode Island voters have a better sense of what the Chafee record is than he does and would prevent us from being subjected to his leadership again. By many accounts, he is a very affable and pleasant person, so I hope he continues to enjoy his retirement and finds the opportunity for more world travel.

Cara Cromwell is a public affairs consultant with more than twenty years experience managing issues campaigns for corporations, non-profits, associations, coalitions and candidates on both sides of the aisle.  An unaffiliated voter, serial ticket-splitter and enthusiastic Red Sox fan, she believes that in politics — and baseball — game changing action occurs in the middle, creating opportunity on the ball field  and compromise and coalition-building in the halls of power. Visit her blog, Straight Up The Middle, at straightupthemiddle.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter @cmcromwell.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.