It’s been years since I’ve heard the name John H. Sununu, until this morning.  I guess — with his temper — I was expecting him to have keeled over from a heart attack long ago.

But there he is, in the news again, apparently this time as a “top surrogate” (I keep seeing those two words a lot lately, and what exactly does it mean … someone lining up for a Cabinet post by talking trash on the campaign trail and getting paid handsomely to do it?) to presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

John Sununu speaks for Mitt Romney.

For those unfamiliar with who John H. Sununu is, he was governor of New Hampshire from 1983-89 before becoming President George H.W. Bush’s White House chief of staff from 1989-91 before resigning — at the recommendation of future President George W. Bush — because he spent a bit too much time and taxpayer money using government transportation on personal junkets, like going to ski resorts and golf outings and his dentist in Boston — racking up a $615,000 bill just by using a military jet for such “urgent matters.”

There he was again on Tuesday, shooting his mouth off again on behalf of Romney, in a conference call with reporters before doing the “Sununu front-and-back step” he was so skilled at back in the “good old days” when his name was still prominent.

“I wish this president would learn how to be an American,” Sununu said of Barack Obama in a comment that smelled of birtherism, before “clarifying” later with the remark, “What I thought I said but what I didn’t say is the president has to learn the American formula for creating business.”

He gave off the aroma of a “birther” earlier on the Fox News Channel with this gem:  “(Obama) has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia.”

And in case the Romney campaign gets upset with the Obama campaign over any suggestion that Romney may have committed a felony over his business role being reported improperly to the Securities and Exchange Commission, there’s Sununu to continually throw out how the President was “wallowing with felons” in Chicago.

Yep, John H. Sununu is BAAAACK!

Just seeing the name “John Sununu” on Tuesday morning brought back a flood of memories for me, taking me back to the days in 1991 when he was all over the news with tales of trips taken on the taxpayers’ dime to places like stamp shows, and the late-night comedians were mentioning him on a daily basis.

I knew I’d written a few editorial columns poking at Sununu in my latter days back at the Blackfoot (Idaho) Morning News, so I went through some old clippings in a file cabinet and found my last “tribute” to John Sununu from just after he resigned in early December 1991.  Looking at the photo that used to accompany my columns took me back to those days when I was a few pounds lighter, my beard had a lot less gray in it, but I had the same attitude toward blowhards.

I’ll share it with you here.  The column was headlined “Mr. Sununu has an offer,” and it was “filed” under my personal satire category.


It had to happen sometime.

John Sununu found himself out of a job after resigning as White House chief of staff, so he had to find another way to stay in the news and ensure his place in the late-night talk show monologue circuit.

He decided it was time to write a book.

The only thing that surprised me was the fact that he showed up at my office to talk to me about it.

“John Sununu’s the name,” he said as he reached out to shake my hand.

Yeah, I recognize you.  The haircut, the eyes.  You’re Sununu all right.

“I guess you know I’m not the White House chief of staff any more.”

Yeah, I saw that.  It was a pretty big story.

“Well, now that I’ve got some free time on my hands, I’d like to get my memoirs into a book, tell it like it really was, you know?”

A “tell-all” book, eh?

“Yes, that’s right.”

So what brings you to me?

“Well, I read a lot of newspapers around the time I was involved in that controversy over using government planes — what a waste of time that was, eh? — and as I was riding in that limo to that stamp auction in New York City, I was looking for a reaction from small-town America.  I came across a column you wrote, saying that you’d remembered seeing me on a cross-country flight, talking about me giving the stewardesses a hard time.”

Oh, yeah, I remember that column.

“Showed a lot of imagination.  Pretty good bit of satire, I must say.”

Is that why you came to talk to me?

“Well, not really.  I was so impressed by your imagination that I thought I’d see if you’d like to write my memoirs.”

Would this be fiction or non-fiction?

“Heh-heh, good one.”


“No, this would purely consist of the facts.”

I see.  What kind of facts?

“Well, for instance, it was President Bush who suggested that I use military planes to take trips to ski resorts and to my dentist in Boston.”

No kidding?  What was the reasoning behind that?

“Simple.  He thought I was doing such a good job, he felt I deserved it.”

I see.

“He said it would be just between him and me.  But once the press found out about it, he acted like he didn’t know a thing about it and I came out looking like the bad guy.  The worm.”

I sense some strong resentment here.

“He pushed me out the door of the White House, said I was bad for his image.  After all I’d done for him and this country.”

But I thought Mr. Bush’s son came to you and said …

“President Bush basically slit my throat, all because the election’s coming up and he’s saving his hind end,” Sununu insisted, that familiar glare coming across his face.

But you were right there when the President named Samuel Skinner to replace you.  You were right there next to Mr. Skinner.

“Appearances are deceiving, ya know.  Skinner’s a lightweight.”

A lightweight? People say he’s a top-notch troubleshooter.  He received raves for the way he handled the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the San Francisco earthquake.  He was praised for nailing down a compromise on that $151 billion transportation bill.  You say he’s a lightweight?

“How’s he going to do in the trenches when it comes to the really tough negotiations, like the budget deficit.  That was my baby, ya know.”

Yeah, and you got a bad reputation as being pretty hard-headed over that, too.

“Listen, I don’t have to sit here and take this abuse from you.”

I’m just stating the facts, sir.

“Facts, schmacts.  This country’d be in the dumper big time if it wasn’t for me.”

You called Trent Lott of Mississippi — a fellow Republican, mind you — “insignificant” when you were hammering out that budget deal.  You’re painted as a totally insensitive person … a jerk, if you want to get down to the nuts and bolts.

“It’s a tough world out there, and you’ve gotta be tough to get ahead and stay ahead, especially in politics.  That’s where nice guys really do finish last.  Now, are you going to write my book or not?”

How demanding are you going to be?


Have you gone to anyone else with this request?

“I went to Mike Royko.  He laughed in my face.  Garry Trudeau would be good, but I don’t want this looking like a comic book.”

Have you tried Kitty Kelly?

“Don’t be absurd.”

Well, I’m sorry but I’ve got to turn you down, Mr. Sununu.  I don’t think I could stretch the truth as much as you’d expect me to.

“Why, you spineless …”

With that, John Sununu stormed out of the office, shouting expletives all the way out the door.

I thought of the riches that would have come my way if I’d accepted his offer.  I thought about the shot in the arm it would have given my career.

Was I wrong in turning him down?  Should I have pushed my pride and self-respect aside and groveled before this man with three degrees from MIT?  Should I run outside and catch him and tell him I was wrong?  Should I …


See ya in the funny papers, Mr. Sununu!

The original column from December 1991.

Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media

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