By Marshall Cobleigh
First of all, congratulations on your re-election by such a historic margin and the taking control of both houses of the General Court and the Executive Council. You now have a great opportunity for unprecedented leadership.
There are many paths you may choose to take. You can continue to follow the Mandy Grunwuld philosophy of coming out repeatedly and strongly against those things in the polls people despise, and address but don't do anything about the problems people really care about facing New Hampshire. After all this approach of smiling often, promising bi-partisanship, emphasizing ethics and incessantly attacking sexual predators (incidentally do you know anyone who is for sexual predators) worked well during your first term.
Or you can take the promise I made in my inaugural address to the House (which I can't believe was 38years ago) when I told the legislature "I do not subscribe to the credo of Boston's notorious mayor James Michael Curley, who used to love to say "there go my people, I must follow them because I am their leader." "The problems confronting us require well considered, vigorous, bold and progressive action. They shall receive it, to the extent I can provide it."
The biggest problem facing both political parties today is reliance on political polls to determine policy decisions. Everyone is so eager to get re-elected that they worship at the alter of political polling. As you know a poll only tells you what was popular yesterday. A poll never tells you what needs to be done to solve a problem. A poll never tells you what the correct course of action is. It just tells you what is popular. Unfortunately today even the media is more apt to tell the people what the polls say, rather than what the governor says.
Political leaders of opposite parties often have conflicting views of how to solve the state's problems. However few students of New Hampshire's Constitution believe that our founding fathers really wanted basic tax policy and the fundamental laws making education policy to be determined by the Court rather than the Legislature. Yes the Court should reign in egregious behavior and devious interpretations of our Constitution. Failure to legislate and failure to adopt the judge?s most favored tax structures are not violations of our Constitution. The five sitting judges can dream up all the tortured reasoning at their command but "cherish education" does not mean the court should set education policy or determine what type of tax structure New Hampshire should have. Those subjects are and should be the province of the Legislature.
MY FIRST RECOMMENDATION: ESTABLISH A PANEL OF TOP NOTCH LEGAL AND LEGISLATORS TO HOLD A SERIES OF FORUMS TO DETERMINE HOW BEST TO AMEND ONCE AND FOR ALL NEW HAMPSHIRE'S CONSTITUTION TO MAKE IT CRYSTAL CLEAR THAT THE LEGISLATURE?S JOB IS TO LEGISLATE AND THE COURT'S ROLE IS TO INTERPRET. No matter what your real position on Education or broad base taxes is the Court and Legislative roles clearly need to be redefined.
You talked a lot about being bipartisan and you personally clearly spent a lot of time smoozing the Senate President and Speaker during your first term, but much of that effort was negated by having Kathy Sullivan and Ray Buckley constantly attack republicans with half truths, personal attacks and politically vitriolic rhetoric. THERE IS AN OLD SAYING IN POLITICS THAT YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS.
IF YOU TRULY WANT A GENUINE BIPARTISANSHIP RELATIONSHIP, YOU MUST ESTABLISH CONTROLS ON YOUR PARTY'S POLITICAL ACTIONS. NO ONE RESPONDS WITH TRUE UNDERSTANDING AFTER YOUR SPOKESMAN KICKS THEM IN THE SHINS. With Kathy Sullivan?s resignation and the yet unproven charges against Ray Buckley, you have a real opportunity to get your party to focus on bipartisanship, ethics and morality, if that is what you truly want.
I am proud of the lifetime friendships that I had with the Democrat Leaders of my time; Governor John King, Senator John Durkin, House Minority Leaders Bill Craig and Bob Raiche, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Spanos. Yes, we differed strongly in political philosophy, but we maintained our friendly relationships by avoiding personal attacks, half truths and misleading personal attacks. Bob Raiche and I often shared one babysitter for our children after spending the day disagreeing on the approach to policy matters.
IT IS NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU TO BE THE GENTLEMAN THAT YOU ARE, IF YOU ONCE AGAIN CONDONE AND ALLOW YOUR PARTY TO GO BACK TO THE POLITICAL SLANDER AND MISLEADING POST CARD ATTACKS OF TYPIFIED BY RAY BUCKLEY AND HIS SYNCOPHANTS.(incidentally the most amazing aspect of the Buckley episode to date is his statement "I AM ANGRY BEYOND BELIEF THAT THE POLITICS OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION HAVE COME TO NEW HAMPSHIRE" this from the man who started and specialized in just such attacks!
I am not talking about honest differences of opinion on how to best solve the problems facing you. These differences should be debated and decided on the merits of the arguments on all sides of the issue.
But when Buckley, for example, sends out thousands of post cards accusing an opponent of causing traffic jams and highway tie ups because of a vote opposing the funding of a railroad study funded by the gas tax after such a study was ruled unconstitutional by the NH Supreme Court, that is not a difference of opinion, that is dishonest. And you cannot ask for bipartisanship and ethical behavior when the spokesman of your party at the same time repeatedly utilizes such scummy tactics.
As the late President Gerald Ford said when accepting the 'Profiles in Courage' award from Senator Edward Kennedy, "Courage is not something to be gauged in a poll or located in a focus group. No advisor can spin it. No historian can backdate it. In the age old contest between popularity and principle, only those willing to lose for their convictions are deserving of posterity's approval."
Or as my favorite Governor Mel Thomson proclaimed, "I believe that leaders must in their pursuit of service to the people and in the development of a worthy heritage for our posterity, be willing to risk defeat at the polls."
I and the people of New Hampshire wish you well as you embark on your second term. I urge you to remember that to be truly bipartisan and ethically responsible IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO BE PERSONALLY PURE IF YOU DO NOT REIGN IN YOUR POLITICAL HENCHMEN.