March 22, 2007

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Concord Publisher's Note: Best show in town
By Dan Szczesny

There comes a time when you have to stop fighting the tide, and that time has arrived. I give up. I’m throwing my hands in the air and accepting the fact that the best entertainment in the state for the next year will be the first-in-the-nation primary.

But not for the reasons you might think. Sure, the national stage is the one that fills the seats, gets the most press and has the biggest celebs.

But it’s the local stage, my friends, the community theater of politics if you will, that is going to be the most entertaining by far.

What leads me to this conclusion, you might ask. Politics in New Hampshire is something of a hobby anyway, any time of year, but never more so than during a national primary when our leadership is thrust unceremoniously into the national spotlight. The first-in-the-nation primary, far from being an occasion for our elected officials to rise to the challenge of leadership under pressure, instead often makes them act like high school drama students.

And what’s on the bill? Well, over in Manchester, you have the Ray and Steve show. Possible titles include “With Friends Like These...” or “The Crucifixion of Ray Buckley.” After being cleared of indecency accusations by his onetime friend and roommate, Democratic chairman-to-be Ray Buckley is once again on the hot seat after 20-year-old home videos were posted on YouTube showing Buckley picking his nose and making unseemly gestures while playing what appears to be Risk. Of course Steve Vaillancourt is once again behind the video, with help from GOP attack dog Joe Kelly Levasseur. But wait, like a forgotten episode of Desperate Housewives, the tale got even more lurid when newly elected Rep. Paul Hodes turned on Buckley and withdrew his support for the embattled party head. What’s next? Perhaps Buckley’s elementary school report card will surface. I heard from a deep background source that he received a C in gym class. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, up in Berlin, what do you suppose state Sen. John Gallus is proposing to turn that down-on-its-luck city around? That’s right! Casinos! He wants one down at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth as well. Because nothing says economic prosperity like poker and an $8 buffet. But why stop there? Let’s call this idea “The New Jailhouse Rock” and do both at once. Why not build the proposed prison AND turn it into a casino. The inmates could do their time by working as dealers. One-stop shopping for the down on their luck. After they blow their remaining money on the casino, they can rip off the concession stand, then go right to work dealing to the next poor sap. Saves time, and taxpayer dollars.

Real leadership is not about making the news, or riding on national coattails, but unfortunately, this type of theater is what we will have to face in the coming months. So, I for one, will sit back with my popcorn and program, and try to enjoy the show