New Hampshire resources that help us stay current

Rudman Center is the latest source for substance and education, with no yelling

New Hampshire is a wonderful place if you are interested in public policy, politics and current events. The number of opportunities presented to us never cease to amaze me.

For example, the Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College, ably directed by Neil Levesque, offers its own programs, debates between candidates and the Politics and Eggs series, sponsored by the New England Council and The Forum on the Future, a collaboration of the New Hampshire College & University Council and High Tech Council. They all bring substantive issues concerning education, public policy and politics before audiences.

One thing interesting about these programs is that the “usual suspects” appear to populate the events disproportionately to the general population. Often, these events are free, and even when there is a charge, it is well worth the expenditure to learn the substance behind a lot of the rhetoric, especially in a political season that sees so many arrows being shot in all directions by political advertising.

A gem that recently has come on the scene in New Hampshire is the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire School of Law in Concord.

During this election season, in conjunction with New Hampshire Public Radio, the center has had a series of “conversations with the candidates,” which, rather than presenting the opportunity for a shouting match or one-line slogans, provides the opportunity for an hour of substantive conversation between NHPR’s Laura Knoy and each candidate.

The center also teams up with New Hampshire Public Radio in a Justice and Journalism Series, which recently brought Ron Elving, NPR’s senior Washington editor, to the law school.

Among the notable comments Elving made about this year’s election was, in relation to the U.S. Senate, “the question is why wouldn’t the GOP take over this year?”

He noted that this is the sixth year of President Obama’s presidency, which historically has been a disaster for the party of the incumbent president.

Elving predicted a pickup for the Republicans of between six and eight seats, which would give the GOP a Senate majority and control of both houses of Congress, absent some historical aberration.

In the House, he predicted a gain of six to eight seats for the Republicans and that the Republicans would win the popular vote for the House. That means the total vote for Republican candidates would exceed those for the Democrats.

Elving also predicted that Democrats could pick up a couple of gubernatorial seats.

Regarding 2016, he indicated that the Republican field would be large, with possibly 15 people being mentioned including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former vice presidential candidate and Congressman Paul Ryan. He indicated there is only one serious Democrat, Hillary Clinton.

On Oct. 9, a fascinating event at the Rudman Center was called “The Presidency in Real Time,” with three former White House chiefs of staff, Kenneth M. Duberstein, the last chief of staff under President Reagan, Thomas “Mack” McLarty, President Clinton’s chief of staff, and Andrew H. Card, chief of staff to President George W. Bush and assistant chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush.

The three former chiefs are in a small fraternity and were gracious and friendly to each other, which is a testament to the fact that they know each other well and shared similar experiences.

Card described the debate he and George W. Bush had on Sept. 11, 2001, when Bush wanted Air Force One to return to Washington and the Secret Service and Card had to tell him that that was a bad idea and he should not go, in the face of his assertion that as president of the United States, he got to make the decision.

In the end, Card’s persuasion and gentle reminder that, “Mr. President, I don’t think that’s a good decision and you might want to rethink it,” carried the day and, notwithstanding his anger at Card at the moment, Bush apparently apologized in person and in his memoirs.

The other chiefs admitted that there were times when they had to persuade the President that certain ideas he had were bad ones, but none would provide an example!

All readers should Google the Rudman Center, along with the Institute of Politics and the New England Council and Forum on the Future to identify future opportunities like the ones described, since we in New Hampshire have a rare opportunity to be educated, and not just yelled at, in the political season and otherwise.

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

Categories: Cook on Concord, Opinion