A Look at “The Boys on the Bus” by Timothy Crouse

The Boys on the BusThe Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A gift from my daughter which hung around a bit before I got to it and I am glad I did. As I was picking through it I saw the foreword by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, read that, and knew I was all in. Author Timothy Crouse covered the media who covered the 1972 presidential race between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, highlighting the changing media landscape in 1972, and offering his take on how the media did its job.

Some of the critiques I saw of the book mention that it may not have aged well but I think it is worth a look. It may be less enjoyable for those that do not know or remember some of the very notable media giants that are covered. We have Evans and Novak, Jules Witcover, James Reston, R.W. (Johnny) Apple, Dan Rather, and many others, including the inimitable Dr. Thompson. Despite that the book does offer some amazing insights. This book shows us the start of modern political journalism, critiquing the press honestly, showing us the system that brought us the news as flawed, and subject to manipulation by press savvy media operations like President Nixon’s. Crouse is not a Nixon fan, with Press Secretary Ron Ziegler taking a pretty good beat down in the book. The Ziegler coverage betrays some grudging respect of the ruthless operation of the Nixon re-election effort, with access to the “inside” of the Nixon effort carefully rationed, with “bad” stories bringing punishment to the offending journalists. Crouse gives his take of Nixon, and the hard lessons he learned from his losing campaigns in 1960 and 1962:

“Richard Nixon, however, was different. Nixon felt a deep, abiding, and vindictive hatred for the press that no President, with the possible exception of Lyndon Johnson, had ever shared. Nixon had always taken personally everything that the press wrote about him. The press, he believed, never forgave him for pulling the mask off its darling, Alger Hiss; so the press tortured him, lied about him, hated him. Over the years Nixon conceived and nursed one of the monumental grudges of the century, a loathing so raw, ugly, and obvious that it only served to make him vulnerable. To borrow a phrase from Iago, Nixon wore his heart on his sleeve for daws to peck at. The daws had a field day. Painfully, Nixon learned his lesson. He learned to control and disguise his hatred, to use it in subtle ways to defeat his enemies in the press. It was precisely for this reason, because Nixon hated for so long and studied his foes so well, that he had become the nemesis of the press. No other President had ever worked so lovingly or painstakingly to emasculate reporters.”

Crouse, Timothy “The Boys on the Bus” page 180

Crouse is fair about looking at how the press did its job, hitting critical points but taking into account the difficult environment that they were operating in. The issue of “pack” writing is frankly looked at, as well as some of his criticism of the “objective” style of covering Nixon and McGovern, where both sides of a controversy are covered, with the reporter making no judgement in the story as to which side of the controversy may be more credible. It is a major criticism issued these days by Paul Krugman over at the New York Times. These challenges in journalism are covered pretty well in the book. We see the rivalry between print and TV, the differences in print between daily newspapers and news magazines, when news magazines had pretty big circulation numbers. Things have obviously changed considerably, but some things look the same (on steroids.)

Crouse was working for Rolling Stone when he wrote this book, connecting him to Hunter Thompson, and bringing to mind the Thompson book on the 1972 campaign, “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72.” I read that book many years ago but may need to take another look. Crouse includes some of the good Doctor’s more outrageous antics.

“The first sign that Hunter had caught on with the straight press was when they began searching newsstands all over the country or phoning their home offices to get them a copy of his lengthy chronicle of the Florida primary. Thompson had loaned his press card to a freak, who had run amuck aboard Muskie’s whistle-stop train, insulting reporters and heckling the candidate when he tried to speak at the final stop in Miami. Many of the reporters, seeing only the badge on the freak’s lapel, had taken him for Hunter S. Thompson of Rolling Stone. In the article, Thompson explained the mistake but revelled in its consequences. The piece was a big hit with the press corps, and they soon began to read him regularly. Thompson’s best lines were quoted in Newsweek. ‘Ed Muskie talked like a farmer with terminal cancer trying to borrow on next year’s crop.’Hubert Humphrey was a ‘treacherous, gutless old ward-healer who who should be put in a bottle and sent out with the Japanese current.’”

Crouse, Timothy “The Boys on the Bus” page 313

I always felt that Hunter Thompson was a bit hard on Humphrey, but I digress. The lifelong war with the press that Richard Nixon engaged in has been ramped up by the current occupant of the Oval Office, making Nixon, in my view, a piker by comparison. But the seeds of the coming war with the press were planted in the campaign of 1972, and Crouse covers it admirably. A good historical book, and a great media book. After all these years it still has relevance.

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NH DOT and Pease Development Meeting Scheduled for October 25 in Seabrook.

The Pease Development Authority Division of Ports and Harbors (Port Authority) is reaching out to all mooring holders and Pier users in the Hampton and Seabrook Harbors.

Arrangements have been made for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to hold an informational meeting with the users of Hampton and Seabrook Harbors to discuss the upcoming rehabilitation or replacement of the Hampton Harbor Bridge, also known as the Neil R. Underwood Bridge (NH DOT Bridge No. 235/025), which carries NH 1A over the inlet to Hampton Harbor and Seabrook Harbor.

The meeting is scheduled for October 25th at 4:00 p.m. at the Seabrook Beach Village District Building, 210 Ocean Blvd., Seabrook NH 03874.

For further meeting details please see the attached notice.

DOT Meeting Notice

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At the Seabrook Civic Association Monday October 15

Thank you to the Seabrook Civic Association, who invited me to be the guest speaker at their last meeting of the season on Monday evening. We discussed beach safety issues that had been the subject of discussion at the Board of Selectmen meeting earlier in the day, as well as the beach work, including the placement of storm fencing and the beach management movement of sand by our DPW. Thank you and congratulations to newly elected Civic Association President Vicki Sawyer.

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Seabrook Regional Household Hazardous Waste Day Saturday October 20, 2018

Seabrook will participate in a regional hazardous waste day on Saturday October 20, 2018 at the Exeter Public Works Garage, Newfields Road (Route 85) between 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The below flyer has the details. For more information please call the Department of Public Works at 603-474-9771.

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Beach Safety Issues Memorandum Board Meeting October 15 2018

The Seabrook Board of Selectmen have instructed me to deliver a preliminary report on the options available to the Board relative to increasing safety measures at Seabrook Beach. That report, attached below, will be delivered at today’s meeting, along with the draft of a potential warrant article.

Board Memo Beach Safety Issues

Lifeguard Warrant Article Draft 2018

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Seabrook Harbor Dredge Project Receives Important Federal Funding

The Seabrook-Hampton Dredge project, which has had some preliminary engineering work done by the U.S. Army Corps, has received great news from Senators Shaheen and Hassan. The bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 has passed both houses of Congress, and will now await the signature of the President. Terrific news for the region, and for the fishing industry on the seacoast. Thank you to the N.H. Legislative delegation, and to Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan for their tireless work in support of this project. Below is the joint statement from Senators Shaheen and Hassan.

Shaheen & Hassan Provisions to Address Mitigation Efforts at Hampton-Seabrook & Portsmouth Harbors Head to President’s Desk as Part of Water Infrastructure Bill

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) issued the following statements after the bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 passed the Senate 99-1. The biennial legislation authorizes water infrastructure projects around the country, and Shaheen and Hassan helped secure approval of mitigation efforts at Hampton-Seabrook and Portsmouth Harbors. The legislation will now head to the President’s desk to be signed into law, having passed both chambers.

“The shoaling of Hampton-Seabrook Harbor is so extreme that it has started to threaten the welfare of our fishermen and the sustainability of our Seacoast economy. As it has become increasingly more difficult for vessels to navigate the harbor, public safety and accessibility to and from the open water have become serious concerns – that’s why I’ve repeatedly fought to push forward on emergency dredging,” said Shaheen. “I’m glad to share that this legislation prioritizes emergency dredging for Hampton-Seabrook Harbor, as well as widening the uppermost turning basin on the Piscataqua River to address similar navigation safety issues. I urge the President to act quickly and sign this bill into law so efforts can move forward to deliver much-needed relief to New Hampshire’s coastal community.”

“Funding for mitigation efforts at Hampton-Seabrook and Portsmouth Harbors will help ensure the safety and vitality of our Seacoast,” said Hassan. “If fisherman cannot get their boats out to the open water, our coastal communities and small businesses will suffer, which could create a ripple effect throughout our state. I am pleased that the measures Senator Shaheen and I pushed for were included in the passage of this bipartisan bill and I am eager to see it become law.”

Addressing the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) leadership earlier this year, Shaheen and Hassan requested the Committee support emergency dredging at Hampton-Seabrook Harbor and the Portsmouth Harbor & Piscataqua River Navigation Improvement Project. Shaheen and Hassan’s letter can be read here.

The final America’s Water Infrastructure Act includes the language secured by Shaheen and Hassan that would permit emergency dredging for Hampton-Seabrook Harbor. Significant shoaling at Hampton-Seabrook has caused sand to pile high enough to prevent boats from exiting and entering the harbor at low tides. For Portsmouth Harbor, the current 800-foot width of the turning basin on the Piscataqua River is a safety concern for large cargo ships. Their provision will permit the basin to be widened by 400 feet, which will allow for broader use of area ports, improve navigational safety and provide an economic boost for New Hampshire and the region. In addition to Congressional approval, these mitigation efforts would need to be included in the Army Corps of Engineers’ (the Corps) work plan.

Additionally, Senator Shaheen successfully added language to the final bill to require the Corps to adhere to existing law requiring the regular release of a project report detailing all authorized Corps projects around the nation. Shaheen’s reporting requirement compels the Corps to issue the annual Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Report to improve transparency so that Congress and the public are aware of all ongoing projects, including the status, funding levels and other relevant information on all Corps infrastructure priorities.

Senators Shaheen and Hassan have been fierce advocates on behalf of New Hampshire fishermen and coastal communities in Hampton and Portsmouth. In September, the New Hampshire delegation called on the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James to include emergency dredging for Hampton-Seabrook Harbor in the OMB and the Corps’ fiscal year 2019 work plan. The New Hampshire delegation has repeatedly called for the Corps to dredge Hampton-Seabrook Harbor. Shaheen toured Hampton-Seabrook Harbor in the spring and released an exclusive video showing how badly the shoaling is occurring in the harbor, underscoring the need for federal assistance to perform emergency dredging.

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Mayor Dennis DiZoglio Authors New Book “The Value of Political Capital”

Former Methuen Mayor Dennis DiZoglio has authored a new book “The Value of Political Capital” which is now for sale at Amazon and bookstores everywhere. Mayor DiZoglio had a book signing event at the Nevins Library, where I got my signed copy and listened to his overview of lessons learned, and important concepts in local government that we can all glean from Mayor DiZoglio’s many years of service in local government. While I have not read it yet it is next in the reading line, and yes I will write a review that you can read here. Congratulations to Mayor DiZoglio for this work. (He told me to look in Chapter Two!)

The book can be found here.

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