DAN YORKE – On COVID limbo in R.I., it could have been worse

DAN YORKE – On COVID limbo in R.I., it could have been worse

There was a moment last Saturday morning when viewers in 49 states were glued to the television watching the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump take a possible wild and long turn. High drama for America, but here in Rhode Island, potential catastrophe.

The Democratic House managers had seized on the Friday night public statement of Washington Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. She had published her account of her minority leader’s report to her of his profanity-laced phone conversation with the president during the attack on the capitol. As the storyline goes, Kevin McCarthy was urging Donald Trump to call off the siege, that it was his MAGA people and not Antifa that had stormed the building. Trump reportedly quipped that maybe the rioters were more upset about the outcome of the election than McCarthy was.

The House managers saw this late trial revelation as a new chance to showcase Trump’s mindset continuum supporting the attack and consequently more evidence that he truly intended to incite the rally crowd.

After the lawyers argued, the Senate, akin to previous votes, passed a rule calling for witnesses. Then it was two long hours of reported behind the scenes strategizing, deliberation and negotiation that eventually resulted in a significantly watered-down plan. Democrats would enter into the record and the defense team would stipulate to the published statement, making it evidence.

The trial was back on track. And most Americans probably found it no more than interesting.

But here in Rhode Island, there was another potential huge problem that came with the dust-up.

Our governor.

Had the trial moved to include any number of witnesses, the length of it and the politics of the Senate could have pushed President Biden’s cabinet confirmations into no man’s land.

Gina Raimondo has stubbornly hung on to her official job saying she’ll only resign with full Senate confirmation of her nomination to secretary of commerce. Amid the pandemic, she has selfishly and irresponsibly delayed a good-faith transition to Lt. Gov. Dan McKee.

Had the impeachment trial kicked the confirmation timetable down the road, heaven only knows how much Rhode Island would be hanging in the wind, the torch indefinitely unpassed.

Bottom line: a bullet was charging at us here in the Ocean State Saturday morning and by early afternoon we had dodged it.

Whew.

Meanwhile, the incoming governor made a wise move on Monday in issuing a statement that included this: “Like most Rhode Islanders, I am not satisfied with the current administration’s progress on vaccine distribution, especially as we see our neighbors in Connecticut rated among the top in the nation.”

McKee further promised to investigate this week with his new COVID advisers, Gov. Ned Lamont and leaders at Harvard who gave that state an “A” and us an “F” (Massachusetts too) for getting needles in arms.

Raimondo’s team is seemingly behind on vaccination pace, with reportedly near 80,000 vials on the shelf. It’s a strategy that they say rightly focuses more on categories of recipients than pure speed of delivery.

Yikes.

Until now, McKee has been self-saddled by engaging too quickly in discourse with no authority and bending over backward with diplomacy for Gina. It looks like that’s over.

It appears that he gets two things: One, it’s the vaccination, stupid. And two, it’s time for him to lead no matter when Gina gets out of the way or whether she likes it or not.

Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC