Cook On Concord: The state of the union, and the presidential field

Who was that guy? Watching the State of the Union address on January 23rd, I was struck by the fact that George W. Bush reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic majority and the American people with a rare eloquence.

Calling for a bipartisan effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil, increase alternate fuels, reduce global warming, make vehicles more efficient, use ethanol and other alternate fuels, produce health-care reform and make other needed domestic reforms, it reminded me, at least, of the advances made by President Clinton when he had to face majorities of the opposition party during his term. Maybe split government will enable Bush to provide leadership in his last two years.

Of course, there was the matter of Iraq and, notwithstanding the uniform support for our troops, he faces an uphill battle in connection with getting support for his military policy.

Nevertheless, this perhaps was President Bush’s best speech ever and should be welcomed by any thoughtful American. For the most part, the reactions immediately following were moderate.


The field of potential presidential candidates grows daily, it seems. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton filed her exploratory committee, joining Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Sam Brownback, Gov. Bill Richardson and many, many other candidates. Interestingly, several of the candidates — including Clinton and Obama – announced by posting pre-recorded video presentations on Web sites rather than facing the cameras and answering questions. Clinton appeared on many television shows in very scripted settings and, while performing admirably, raised the question of why she was not facing the cameras and the harsh questions.

Early polls show her with a significant lead in the Democratic Party. The Republican Party contest does not seem as clear.

With millions of dollars raised, the presidential candidates are out of the gate early and, after the full complement is identified, there will be sugaring-off prior to the debates that already have been scheduled in New Hampshire and Nevada in spring 2007.

It used to be true that candidates only announced in the same year in which the
primaries and elections were held. How things have changed!


The Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire’s board was recently invited to the Mount Washington Hotel to hear plans by new management for development of that property and its surrounding environs — a formidable asset for New Hampshire.

The new owners and developers are part of a complex and intricate group. Included are those who developed the community of Celebration, Fla., for the Walt Disney Company. They are currently developing properties near Charlotte, N.C., Chapel Hill, N.C., The Homestead in Virginia and other notable projects.

Plans include upgrading the historic hotel, expanding the ski area, making a commercial village near the ski area and building residential properties. The owners also have acquired Loon Mountain.

Interestingly, expressing no interest in or affection for casino gambling as part of their complex, the developers expressed an interest in making the Bretton Woods facility a destination for families. Given the relative proximity of their location compared with other grand hotels in the White Mountains, and the resources available, this looks to be an extraordinary economic boon for the North Country, economy and state.


Pulitzer Prize-winning professor, columnist and author Donald M. Murray, professor emeritus of English at the University of New Hampshire, died recently. Murray wrote a column for The Boston Globe, was the founder of the journalism program at the University of New Hampshire and conducted the only course this writer ever dropped.

Murray, a Massachusetts native, was an Army veteran who enrolled at UNH having never graduated from high school. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1954 for editorials he wrote for the Boston Herald. Going to New York and working for various publications, he lived in Glen Ridge, N.J. Meeting a distinguished English teacher in the high school there, when he returned to the University of New Hampshire to found the journalism program, he enticed George Grienwank, recipient of the Princeton Prize as the best English teacher in New Jersey, to join UNH as head of the master’s program.

Grienwank served with distinction at the university and brought his wife Virginia to the staff in the home economics department. They became a vibrant part of the Durham/UNH community.

Murray wrote poignantly of the experience his wife had with dementia and disability, the death of a daughter and the challenges of aging. Vibrant until his death, planning future endeavors, Don Murray will be missed.

At George Grienwank’s memorial service, I had the daunting task of following the Pulitzer Prize winner in paying tribute. Murray was gracious thereafter in not only complimenting me on that performance but about writing this column. I received a note from him stating that he read it and liked it, notwithstanding the fact that it had not benefited from his training!

Don Murray was an important part of UNH, touched many students and his journalistic legacy exists throughout the United States in the form of talented and disciplined students who are talented journalists themselves. nhbr

Brad Cook is a partner in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups.

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