Friday, July 1, 2011

ANALYSIS: Does Binnie have the temperament to be U.S. Senator?

September 3, 2010 by ShawnMillerick  
Filed under News & Politics

They call it the world’s greatest deliberative body – the United States Senate. Some of the greatest names in U.S. history have been members: Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun. It has been the stepping stone to the presidency; sixteen senators later became presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Barak Obama and NH’s own Franklin Pierce. And New Hampshire has always sent distinguished and honorable people to represent it in this august body: John Langdon, Styles Bridges, Warren Rudman, Judd Gregg; NH’s John Hale was the first anti-slavery senator elected to the senate and the senior senator from NH to this day still sits at Daniel Webster’s desk.

And now country club owner Bill Binnie wants to join their ranks. But lately more and more people are whispering that Binnie might not have to stature or temperament to join these storied ranks.

To start, Binnie clearly cannot handle the rough and tumble of politics. There have been reports of him flying off the handle, exploding over campaign set-backs, and putting his well-known temper on display. And Binnie has shown a tendency to feel sorry for himself and whine about how everything is unfair. His recent interview for WKXL and his sputtering, red-faced performance at the Franklin Pierce debate left mouths agape and heads shaking.

There have also been numerous news reports about Binnie’s inability to get along with others. NHPR did a piece on all of the lawsuits Binnie filed against his neighbors and some of the petty things he did to strike back at people who opposed him, like throw them out of his country club or plant 60 foot trees so that his neighbors’ scenic views were obscured; a judge even called Binnie’s actions “spiteful”. The Concord Monitor wrote about a case where Binnie sued a condo owner over the color of the sash he had in his window.
The Concord Monitor has also written about the fear Binnie instills in people. The paper reported that people were “scared” to talk on the record out of fear that Binnie would “sue them or blackball them at his club.” The Monitor went on the say that “several neighbors – and others who have dealt with Binnie – said they are scared to cross him.”

Binnie is also difficult to deal with. In the Monitor article, the head of the condo association Binnie belongs to is quoted as saying, “He’d fly off the handle sometimes. I was really shocked at his temperament, how unreasonable and difficult he could be. He was the most difficult person in the association to deal with.”
Binnie also served on the board of a charter school, but left after a year. The head of the school said that there was “tension” and that Binnie is “a man who’s of strong opinions and “was used to being in charge” as opposed to others on the board who were “very collaborative and very collegial.”
Binnie also served on the on the investment committee of the board of trustees of Strawbery Banke Museum. The Monitor reported that “again, Binnie’s strong opinions caused tensions”. Some board members wouldn’t talk about Binnie on the record, again fearing retribution. But one did say that Binnie pursued his ideas “very forcefully” and another said, “I didn’t find him easy to work with. He does not always work well with others.”

Even his friends admit Binnie’s shortcomings. Bob Eberhart of Rye, one of Binnie’s closest friends, described him as, “adversarial.”

And even Binnie himself seemed to acknowledge that he was difficult when he admitted in the Monitor article that he was used to getting his own way.

Binnie was the most difficult member of the condo association, tough to work with on the board of Strawbery Banke, unreasonable and temperamental on the board of a charter school; how will he behave in the U.S. Senate? Is he going to be the most difficult senator as well? The senate is known for its decorum and protocols. More importantly, how effective is he going to be? The job of any legislator is a collaborative one, necessitating the building of coalitions and winning of support. How will he do this if he keeps flying off of the handle because he can’t get his own way? And let’s face it, if Binnie couldn’t get things done on the board of Strawbery Banke or a charter school, is he really ready to serve in the U.S. Senate?
Vengeful. Temperamental. Petty. Spiteful. The adjectives used to describe Binnie are not the ones New Hampshirites are used to ascribing to the distinguished gentlemen they send to represent them in Washington, DC. Are voters ready to vote for someone who inspires fear, someone people are scared of crossing because he will seek retribution?

Is this the type of man New Hampshire wants to sit at Daniel Webster’s desk?

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