Forum, Sept. 10: There’s More to Leadership Than Character

Sunday, September 09, 2018
More to Leadership Than Character

In his Forum letter, Anthony Stimson writes that if those now lavishing praise on the late Sen. John McCain’s character actually cared about character he’d have been elected president twice (“High Praise, Indeed,” Sept. 1). I draw a different conclusion, since there’s more to leadership than character. Judgment is also crucial, such as that which candidate McCain demonstrated in selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate; as is temperament, such as he displayed in trying to suspend the 2008 campaign so he could convene and lead a group to troubleshoot the burgeoning financial crisis, which was being managed by President George W. Bush and his administration. For those who may not recall or are unaware of that fiasco, it quickly became apparent that McCain had nothing to offer but bluster about that crisis, which was of historic proportions.

In need of a hero I’d ask for McCain. In need of leadership for our nation, we the people said, thank you, no. And we honor him for his life and for his service. Both things are true.

Stimson also wrote that if President Donald Trump expected unwavering support from every member of his party he’d have run as a Democrat. I take that to mean that, in Stimson’s view, Democrats offer unwavering support to presidents of their party regardless of which way political winds blow, or perhaps in response to a particular president’s behavior. What nonsense. Ask Barack Obama where such unwavering support was during the 2010 midterm election campaign, when Democrats ran from the Affordable Care Act like scared rabbits in fear of ubiquitous Republican lies about that legislation which had then taken hold — as so very many do — with some members of the voting public.

Meanwhile, our current president, whom Stimson is supportive of if I understand him correctly, has an appallingly bad character, terrible judgment and a temperament that would be worrisome in a child, not to mention the leader of the free world. If character is destiny and the past, prologue, we’re screwed if we don’t get rid of Donald J. Trump.

Chris Weinmann


Protect Flowers, Help Pollinators

Recently a friend in town asked another friend on our town’s Conservation Commission, “Instead of encouraging people to plant more flowers for our pollinators, why don’t we just suggest they stop mowing down wildflowers in places where they don’t have to mow?” We’re talking about the acres of field that people mow every week or so all summer like mega lawns. The money one can save by not mowing these acres, or the wide expanses to either side of a long driveway, could be put toward hiring a neighbor to brush-hog once a year in mid- to late September to keep these green places open and free of trees.

Taller grass is essential for small field-nesting birds like bobolinks that are all but unknown now in our area because there are fewer unmown fields; it gives protection to does and fawns, and wild turkeys as well. Imagine these fields filled with summer wildflowers, with bees happily foraging through the flowers, with endangered monarch butterflies laying their eggs on the milkweed, which is the only food for their caterpillars, protecting them before they cocoon and then emerge to migrate as adult monarchs. Moreover, there are now 100 farmers in Quebec and Vermont growing milkweed to sell to the Monark Cooperative, which uses milkweed fiber as a clothing insulator.

It takes a little time for bountiful wildflowers to re-establish, but milkweed, goldenrod, joe-pye weed and others will come back. If you have a section of lawn that you want to become a wildflower patch more quickly, do not use weedkiller. Instead, after a close mowing, put down sheets of plastic, which will kill the grass under it after several weeks. Then you can plant a mixture of fescue grass (which grows only 6-8 inches high) and native perennial wildflowers (I used a 7 to 1 ratio, grass to wildflower seed). Lightly mulch with straw to protect it, and it will grow. The pollinators and butterflies will thank you.

Anne Donaghy


Seeking Windsor-Orange 2 Seat

The good news is that there are five talented and thoughtful people running for the two-seat Windsor-Orange 2 House district, representing Norwich, Sharon, Strafford and Thetford. While the others have their own backgrounds, perspectives and visions, mine may be among the most unique.

While I served for 20 years as the chair of the Strafford Democratic Town Committee, over the last decade I have become concerned with increasing dictates to our towns and schools from Montpelier and the need for more taxes, fees and regulations to enforce these mandates. Laws are being passed more for ideological reasons at the national level or in the Burlington area than what is best for the people and communities in our district. Party-line votes (on both sides) are often the norm and legislators are pressured to stay in line rather than rely on their own judgment. Gone are the days, only a few decades ago, when a Republican majority would elect a Democrat as speaker based on the person’s competence and fairness, not party affiliation.

It is to provide a more moderate, nonpartisan, practical perspective that I have thrown my hat into the ring as an independent candidate for a House seat in our district. My hope, too, is to run a campaign based more on ideas and respect than on lawn signs. You can find out more about my background and positions at my website, www.johnfreitag4vt.org, or by calling me at 802-765-4003.

John Freitag

South Strafford