Tom McLaughlin: His personality blocks his agenda

I voted for him, yes, and given the same choices, I’d do so again, but he’s making an ass of himself. Maybe that’s not entirely true because he’s behaving much the same way he did through the primaries, so I guess he was already an ass and he’s just reinforcing that general perception. When he actually governs I like what he does, but his personality is blocking his agenda.

Cruz was my choice, but Trump won the nomination. During the primaries and general election campaign, I wrote columns critical of Donald Trump and my conservative readership reacted. Some agreed. Others said Trump was the only candidate strong enough to kick butt in Washington, D.C. — both Democrat and Republican butts — as necessary. I agreed that was indeed necessary, and Trump seemed fearless — unaffected and unintimidated by whatever criticism media directed to him. He’d throw it right back and that’s why he won. But was really he as fearless as he seemed?

A truly tough leader would stick to his battle plan, would expect criticism, and wouldn’t let it knock him off track. But maybe voters overestimated Trump’s strength. We’re still in the early rounds of this long fight, but the left and the media — which are one and the same — are getting to him. They haven’t landed any solid punches because there’s no evidence of collusion with the Russians, but they’re playing a head game with Trump and it’s working. He’s not sticking to his fight plan. The criticism is affecting him, bigly. The Hillary campaign focused entirely on Trump’s temperament, but Clinton lost because of her own flaws. It’s ironic now that she was right about his temperament. It’s tripping him up.

Senior adviser Steve Bannon said last February at CPAC that: “(C)orporatist, globalist media … are adamantly opposed — adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has … If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day — every day, it is going to be a fight.”

Steve Bannon was absolutely right. He said then that he believed Trump would stick to his agenda through it all, but I wonder what he’s thinking now. Are the rumors of Bannon’s reduced influence true? I have no inside information, but I don’t think Trump has been acting on Bannon’s advice during the past couple of months. I’ll bet Bannon is trying to channel Will Rogers, whose sage advice was: “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” Most of us who voted for him wish Trump would just shut up — and put his phone away too. Don’t tweet until you first consult with advisers.

Is Trump really as tough as he pretends to be? Perhaps, but with many braggarts there’s a deep-seated, inferiority complex under a brusque persona. He can’t point to positive opinion polls the way he did in the primaries, and from which he drew energy. Media onslaught against him since his inauguration has been unprecedented and relentless — and he’s not handling it well at all. A recently released study on Trump’s first 100 days from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy claims he got three times more media coverage than previous presidents — and 80 percent of it has been negative.

Fox News was the most balanced, but even its coverage was slightly more negative than positive. O’Reilly and Hannity were unequivocally with Trump, but the rest were either lukewarm or against him. It’s not too late to get back on track. The foreign trip is helping and Trump is sticking to script, mostly. Let’s hope that continues.

When he was negotiating real estate deals, Trump dealt with people who wanted to do business with him. If he expressed annoyance they would be inclined to compromise, but it’s not like that in politics. Political enemies on the left are not moved by petulance. They’re persuaded only by massive public support of the kind Ronald Reagan had. They’re not seeing that behind Trump so they’re obstructing him wherever they can. They rely on their media army to portray the November election as illegitimate. They’ve relentlessly charged that Trump won only because the Russians helped him. That there is no evidence to support this after almost a year of investigation — zip, zero, nada — doesn’t deter them in the least.

I don’t know this, but I’d guess that Trump hasn’t played much poker. The left is bluffing. It has nothing, but as Cool Hand Luke said in the famous movie by that name: “Sometimes, nothing can be a real cool hand.”

Especially if you’re playing against the fragile ego of Donald J. Trump.

Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine. He can be reached on his website at

Richard Fahy: One Marine’s story

In honor of Memorial Day, and on behalf of the 58,195 men and women who died in the Vietnam War — and the millions who sacrificed during that war — I would like to tell the story of one young man’s service to his country.

He was Pfc. Robert Nelson Burroughs (Panel W53, Line 52 on the Vietnam Wall). He was born on May 28, 1945. He would have been 72 years old this weekend.

Rob enlisted in the Marines on the same day that Muhammad Ali refused induction into the Army — April 27, 1967. He was just shy of of his 22nd birthday.

In his youth, he “hired” his younger brother and taught water skiing in the summer on Cape Cod. Like many of the seniors from local New Hampshire high schools, being drafted into the military was hardly a distraction when he graduated in 1964. He was not a good student, so he took another year of high school, but academics did not come easily to him. He was good looking and affable, but he struggled to find a path in his young life, working in the iron and steel mills on the banks of Cleveland. He had not been drafted, and the war had already taken the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans. Instead of sitting back and watching the Vietnam War on the TV, he stepped up, took an oath “to support and defend the Constitution” and joined the Marines.

The Marines in Vietnam between 1965 and 1973 were primarily located near the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) — the “Dead Marine Zone” and the “Meat Grinder” were other nicknames used for this area.

Within 48 hours of arrival in country, Uncle Rob found himself thrown into an escalating battle at Con Thien, located a few miles south of the DMZ, in September and October of 1967.

Gen. William Westmoreland would later characterize the Con Thien engagement as “the greatest shelling in the history of warfare.” While the Battle of Con Thien was not as well known as other battles such as Khe Sanh or Hue, it was prominently featured in the pages of Time and Life magazines in October 1967.

Uncle Rob later fought in the Tet Offensive from January to March, 1968. And he was in the Battle of Dai Do — a bloody conflict that raged for three days in May. More than 40 percent of the Marines engaged in that battle sustained casualties.

When Pfc. Burroughs wasn’t dodging enemy bullets, he was dealing with the worst that Vietnam could wreak on the human body — torrential rainfall, humidity, leeches and bugs that would drive most of us locals crazy.

Here is a portion of the two letters he wrote his parents in October and November 1967:

“Dear Mom and Dad,

“We were mortared and rocketed, several times and it was all we could do but to save ourselves and get as low as possible in the hole we had dug to escape shrapnel. We did no shooting of our own. As a matter of fact, to this day, I haven’t fired one round at the enemy. The enemy could not be seen by us anyways. They are hidden in the brush.

“It wouldn’t have been so bad had I the proper equipment — I was without anything to keep dry and only a flak jacket with a set of utilities. Consequently, when it rained, and it did rain every night and sometimes in the day, I became soaked from head to foot ­— it poured buckets and I could do nothing about it except sit and let it drench me. If it rained for an entire night, I would be awake the entire night — obviously I couldn’t sleep.

“As you probably read (in the newspaper), we were partially overcome by the North Vietnamese Army at 1:30 in the morning of the 14th of October. The NVA got inside our battalion perimeter. Fighting continued throughout the night. The result — 20 killed in action and 30 wounded.

“On a sweep we made to an ambush site we removed the remains of those who had lost their lives fighting this miserable war and I finally concluded that war is hell.

“I have not heard from anyone for a month which is no one’s fault but my own. I would be delighted to hear from anyone and everyone who would like to write.”

Pfc. Burroughs probably had been shot at hundreds of times during the 270 days he was in theater and was lucky to still be alive nine months into his 13 month tour. He succumbed to malaria on July 8.

Back in 1968, bodies of the fallen were transported back to the Unite States on ships. So, Rob’s funeral service was not until six weeks after he died — late August 1968.

It must have been an agonizing year and heartbreaking summer for my grandfather, a recently retired bishop, his wife and Rob’s three siblings.

This tragic funeral and memorial scene, with its customary bugles and rifle volleys, would play out across America more than 30,000 times in the years to follow, from the National Cemetery at Arlington to small family plots in Iowa and New Hampshire.

God bless our veterans — especially those who died and those who continue to suffer from the wounds — visible and invisible — of past wars. Thank you, in particular, to those Vietnam Veterans who still do not get the dignity, the gratitude and historical recognition they richly deserve.

Richard Fahy is a retired Navy captain. He lives in Ossipee.

National Perspective: Remembering a forgotten man, and his forgotten book

By David M. Shribman

He was once a major figure in British colonial politics, the governor-general of Canada and author of "The Thirty-Nine Steps," which Alfred Hitchcock made into a famous film. But today the name John Buchan prompts no ripples of recognition. He is a figure from a fast-receding past — a time when dash and daring were recognized and revered, when Kipling and Stevenson were read and remembered.

Susan Bruce: Boys will be boys

The New Hampshire Legislature was in session on May 4. State Representative Debra Altschiller from Stratham was one of many women in the House who were deeply disturbed to learn that a colleague had started the misogynistic Red Pill forum. Rep. Altschiller asked to read a short statement during the session. Before she did, a number of the Republican men walked out of the room. They weren’t willing to listen to what she had to say about decency, respect and honorable behavior.

When they left, some of them went to a bar with Robert “Red Pill” Fisher. One of them, Rep. James Spillane of Northwood, posted photos of himself cavorting with Fisher on his Instagram page and tweeted some of them out. All the while, he was wearing a giant House name badge, and a bunch of other trinkets on his lapels. Later, when he was arrested for DWI, the oversized name badge and the other pins were right there in his mug shot. Spillane had been arrested once before in an event that included drinking, driving and spousal abuse. The original arrest took place before he was in the Legislature. Given that he’s a Republican in New Hampshire, those charges were not an impediment — heck, charges like that help build name recognition.

Two weeks ago, as I reported in my last column, Rep. Robert “Red Pill” Fisher was about to testify at a hearing of the House Legislative Committee. Well — he did. In fact, he added a little theater to the proceedings by swearing he was about to tell the whole truth and nothing but the. It was a nice little pageant that allowed the Republican members some cover. After all — he took an oath! We have to believe him!

Not one of Robert’s friends or colleagues spoke on his behalf. Some of them submitted written testimony, which only the committee would see — and that meant they didn’t have to openly support ole Radioactive Robert. His alleged girlfriend didn’t testify. His MOM didn’t testify.

The committee responded by asking him softball questions and accepting his answers without question. If the Oathtaker said he stopped participating in his misogynistic forum before he became a legislator, that was good enough for them.

Once again, the Republicans were perfectly willing to keep this utter creep, because of the R next to his name. That he refused a committee assignment, showed up less than half the time for votes, and was a fan of rape — well, nobody’s perfect, boys will be boys, and even presidents engage in locker room sexual assault talk.

A week later, the committee met again to determine whether to censure, expel, or do nothing about Robert Fisher. On the committee is Rep. Tim Smith, who works in information technology. He spent many hours going through the site and discovered that Robert Fisher did a poor job of covering his tracks, and that it was a safe bet that Fisher was still moderating the forum. He sent the committee all of this information. Chair Dick Hinch admitted he didn’t look at it because he was “afraid of viruses.” If one considers unwanted information a virus, one can see how he might reach that conclusion.

Faced with this evidence, the majority party members of the committee still voted to do nothing about Fisher. Women in the hearing room stood and loudly chanted, “Shame, Shame, Shame” at the members of the committee. The Democratic Minority Leader brought up the possibility of referring the matter to the state attorney general for a perjury investigation. Fisher resigned 30 minutes later.

The House voted on May 19 to keep Rep. Debra Altschiller’s remarks (delivered May 4) out of the permanent journal.

The vote was 165-143, and came down along party lines. In Carroll County, Reps. Lino Avellani (R-Sanbornville), Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett), Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro), Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield), Frank McCarthy (R-Conway), Bill Nelson (R-Brookfield), Steve Schmidt (R-Wolfeboro) and Karen Umberger (R-Conway) all voted to keep Altschiller’s remarks out of the journal. In the GOP, the lads all band together to defend rape culture, and the women enable them.

Just this week, at a Belknap County budget meeting, mention was made of a deputy sheriff who had been charged with raping a prisoner he was transporting. GOP State Rep. Michael Sylvia (Belmont) commented, ““You know what that tells me, that tells me he had time on his hands.” Apparently, he thinks guys get all rapey when they don’t have enough to do. Rep. Sylvia serves on the House Judiciary Committee. In 2014, Rep. Sylvia was one of three votes against the bill making domestic violence a stand-alone crime in New Hampshire. The other two were J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton) and Frank Sapareto (R-Derry).

The boys have brought their talk out of the locker room and into our state and local government.

Rep. Altschiller’s short speech can be read on my blog.

Susan Bruce is a writer and talk radio personality on “The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen” on WNHN-FM. She lives in Concord. Visit her blog at or find the broadcast at