Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Chafee of the Democratic Presidential Primary

I know it's early, but the Globe has already started nominations and he's at the bottom of the bag:

"Lincoln Chafee declares bid for president; Ex-R.I. governor joins Democrats in seeking nod" by Alan Rappeport New York Times  June 04, 2015

NEW YORK — He has served as a mayor, a senator, and a governor. He has been a Republican, an independent, and a Democrat. On Wednesday, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island added presidential candidate to the list.

During a foreign policy speech at George Mason University in Virginia, Chafee announced that he is seeking the Democratic nomination, joining Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland.

“I enjoy challenges, and today we have many facing America,” Chafee said. “Today I am formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for president.”

Many were surprised when Chafee, 62, signaled in April that he was interested in seeking the White House. The move especially raised eyebrows in Rhode Island, where his record as governor gets mixed reviews. Facing the prospect of a primary challenge and sluggish poll numbers last year, he chose not to run for reelection.

But a quiet retirement was not in the cards.

Chafee has shown a willingness to confront Clinton, raising questions about the financial dealings of her family’s foundation and criticizing her for her support for the 2003 invasion in Iraq. A Republican at the time of the war, Chafee was the only senator from his party to vote against it.

“I think Chafee wants to have the same dialogue on foreign policy that Sanders wants to have on domestic policy,” said Scott MacKay, a political analyst for Rhode Island Public Radio. “He sees the country as becoming too militaristic and he will talk about the Iraq war vote.”

Chafee’s long résumé belies what some have deemed a disappointing record. While he received praise for his overhaul of the state’s pension system and for his education policy, he also oversaw a flagging state economy and was ensnared in high-profile controversies, such as a debate about whether Christmas trees should be called holiday trees.

“This is the most Catholic state in the country,” said Maureen Moakley, a political science professor at University of Rhode Island. “He took a beating over that.”

Moakley said many in Rhode Island saw Chafee as principled but quirky. While he can charm in small settings, she suggested, he tends to struggle when trying to communicate before the types of large audiences he will face on the national stage.

Although Chafee comes from a wealthy family, financing a challenge to Clinton will be a struggle....

What's in his wallet?


"Lincoln Chafee’s metric bid is the wrong fight" by The Editorial Board   June 15, 2015

It’s hard for a Democratic presidential contender to wrest attention away from Hillary Clinton. But former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee, who entered the primary race last week, managed to win some headlines with one quixotic proposal: converting the United States to the metric system.

Going metric is hardly a new cry; scientists and business leaders have long argued that the switch would help the United States stay economically competitive. In 1975, Congress passed a law to coordinate a switch — but it was voluntary, and swiftly fizzled. Chafee, too, cites economic reasons for the change, though he concedes it would carry a short-term cost. But he also claims that a switch to metric would represent a “bold embrace of internationalism,” a way to earn global respect. Myanmar and Liberia, he pointed out, are the only other countries that haven’t officially adopted a metric standard.

That may be true, but it makes for a tough political argument in a country that, not so long ago, clung to “freedom fries.” It also may be unnecessary. The metric system has, in fact, made substantial inroads here; nonscientist layfolk run 5Ks and measure centimeters on rulers. The Common Core curriculum standards, adopted by most states, call for teaching of metric units in addition to the familiar US “customary” units. And any business that deals in international trade is likely to be using metric, or suffering the consequences. The most compelling arguments for using metric alone have to do with public safety; some cite an increased danger of confusing medicine doses when both metric and standard measurements are used. But it’s easier to press for industry-specific labeling requirements than to make an entire country drop its embrace of the tablespoon or pound.

There are, in fact, more troubling ways that the United States remains an international outlier.

That's a stunning, slip-of-the-tongue(?) admission.

For instance, most other developed countries guarantee some amount of paid sick leave for workers, and the United States shares honors with Papua New Guinea as the only country not to offer paid maternity leave.

Oh, pfffft!

Chafee has a good track record here: In 2013, he signed a bill that made Rhode Island one of the few states to offer paid family leave to care for a newborn or a sick relative. As a Democratic primary issue, that might not set him apart from the crowd. But in a nation where most rulers are already marked with centimeters, it’s a far more important use of political capital.


The bag is now empty.