Flotsam & Jetsam

A mighty wind

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House and current professional blowhard, paid what could only be described as an incongruous visit to New Hampshire last month.

Gingrich, keynote speaker at the Union Leader’s Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Dinner, dedicated a good portion of his bloviating to scare-mongering (“We need to get ahead of the curve rather than wait until we actually literally lose a city, which I think could literally happen in the next decade if we’re unfortunate”) and speculating about how the very amendment the folks in attendance were there to celebrate might have to be altered because “a different set of rules” is needed in the current era of fear and loathing. In other words, free speech aids the terrorists.

The ironic height of the evening, though, was his emotional call to repeal the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. Why? To expand First Amendment rights to candidates for political office, of course.

In other words, Newt wants more free speech for politicians, but less for the rest of us.

Lynch Flynn-ches

While Governor Lynch has been very publicly flexing his political muscle on the continued tenures of Transportation Commissioner Carol Murray and Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen, he’s apparently drawing the line at even attempting to move the immovable force, Safety Commissioner Dick Flynn, whose term expires in March.

Which is simply further proof that the long, long, long-serving commish is the historical inspiration for the expression, “In Like Flynn.”

Return of the Pod People

If even the slightest raised eyebrow from the junior senator from New York would send the New Hampshire press and political classes into a tizzy, Hillary Clinton’s most recent more public mutterings about running for president may have sent some Granite Staters rushing for the AED.

So word that Clinton was sending out feelers to New Hampshire supporters to tell them to keep their powder dry was more than enough of a signal to lure most of the old Friends of Bill into the daylight after a couple of years of lying dormant as they awaited their spinmeistering orders.

In fact, the emergence was almost creepy, kind of like the pod people in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Within hours of a Union Leader-generated e-mail “news bulletin” that “Hillary Clinton has begun calling New Hampshire Democratic leaders and activists in an apparent prelude to a presidential campaign in the lead-off primary state,” the marching orders were received by the media, which dutifully put together stories featuring all kinds of insights from the Hillary-ites, including the declaration from Nancy Richards-Stower, former member of the Public Utilities Commission and a volunteer for the first President Clinton that “I will not wear anybody else’s button.”

All well and good. But until Hillary actually takes the plunge, the memorable tagline of “Body Snatchers” should serve as a reminder for all them Clintonistas out there: “There was nothing to hold onto – except each other.”

Dialing for dollars

Kathy Sullivan and Wayne Semprini, chairpersons of the state Democrats and Republicans, respectively, tried their best to spin the parties’ recent settlement of the notorious 2002 election phone-jamming in Manchester.

But while Semprini – with a straight face – actually tried to convince anyone who would listen that higher-ups in the state and national party knew nothing about the conspiracy, Sullivan took the cake with her take on the settlement.

“For the Democratic Party, it was never about money, but about unraveling the conspiracy behind the phone-jamming and about having the various defendants take responsibility for their actions,” said Sullivan.

One thought: As in sports when they say it’s not about the money … it’s about the money.

It’s been making the rounds…

• The first sign that it will be business as usual in the Legislature, despite the changing of the guard: the good ol’ boys process of picking a new state treasurer.

• The New York press just won’t let go of the speculation that Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be running for president.

• New Hampshire Republicans calling for an end to straight-ticket voting is like the alcoholic who finally hits bottom swearing off booze.

• Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen won’t be going anywhere until at least the end of June, when the state budget process is finished. After that? How about Devine Millimet?

Categories: News