Tuesday’s Blue Wave by Craig Fuller

Share

The pundits will parse and analyze every aspect of this week’s election, especially in our neighboring state of Virginia. There, Democrats from the top of the ticket through state legislative races were swept into office.

While it’s stating the obvious, voters made the difference!

When all the ads were over, and all the rhetoric was set aside, the most remarkable fact about the Virginia election was that the turnout for this gubernatorial election was the highest in 20 years. While both sides brought out more voters, the Democrats in large population areas came out in larger numbers.

With a President who received just under 50% of the popular vote in his own election last year that produced a smaller voter turnout (under 60%) than recent national elections, the message of yesterday seems loud and clear: The White House faces the immediate future without a true governing majority and the likelihood of significant change in the balance of Congress in next year’s elections just increased considerably.

Will this change the way the President approaches his choices going forward? Who knows?

It will inevitably cause current Members of Congress and their prospective challengers to reevaluate their options. Some in Congress may simply decide it is time to retire. The reality today suggests that high voter turnout in November 2018 could turn yesterday’s Blue Wave into next year’s Tsunami unless voters see less divisiveness and more results in Washington.

At least this is my soundbite on the week’s elections.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Fire: So Unrelenting by Craig Fuller

Share

Anguish and heartbreak descend upon those caught in natural disasters. To be sure, they have visited too many, too often this year. There is no hierarchy when it comes to anguish and heartbreak, no one disaster worse or less severe than the next. There is only anguish and heartbreak.

I comment on the tragedy surrounding the fires in California perhaps because they impact me more directly.

I am from California.

I have made frequent visits to the California wine country since 1971.

I have family and friends living in the Napa and Sonoma areas.

I have lost a house to a fire.

Oh, and I was there when these fires started last Sunday night.

We just finished dinner during our fourth and final night of a tour through the Napa Valley as part of a celebration of a good friend’s birthday. I had a camera with me and a member of the wait staff suggested I go outside and take a picture of the fires. It was 10:00 PM local time in Yountville, California with 50 mile per hour winds wiping the fire across the ridge of nearby mountains. Twelve hours later we would be airborne in our aircraft headed back home, but those twelve hours were long and draining.

While never in imminent danger, the uncertainty as one fire became two and then six was stressful, to say the least. Power failed at one of the Napa Valley’s finest hotels. The hotel had generators, but soon they failed. Cellphone service began to fail in what a day or so later we learned was failure caused by the destruction from the fire of over 80 cellphone towers.

Inexplicably, through most of the early morning hours on Monday, the internet worked and I found a site to monitor fire emergency radio transmissions. However, being informed didn’t reduce anxiety as repeatedly dispatchers would say, “…we have no resources to send to that address.” And, this was when “that address” had been reported as a structure on fire.

While lacking resources, the first responders never lost their cool professionalism. Dispatchers guided firefighters to where they were needed most. They reminded that the first priority was protecting the lives of citizens and their own lives.

Sitting in the middle of the Napa Valley proved to be the safest place to be. At one point, there were some 30 fires reported. When we departed and even as I write this many of the fires have containment defined as “zero.” The anguish and heartbreak continue!

As bad as the reports look some three days after the fires started, it will get worse. Probably, it will get much worse.

Fire simply destroys everything in its path. It came suddenly upon the Valley. It was dark. People were asleep. There were no “forecasts” warning of tides or rainfalls. Fire just lit up the sky and overran everything in its path.

Anyone who spends time with the winemaking community in the Napa and Sonoma areas knows of their total commitment to caring for the earth, the crops, the harvest and for each other. These communities are filled with some of the finest people I’ve ever met. I am certain they will band together and rebuild even though there will be a long and painful process ahead.

While our group of ten people are safely back on this side of the country and for that we are very grateful, our hearts and prayers are with old friends and new as they face the challenges of the future.


Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Grass: Cut vs. Hire by Craig Fuller

Share

Several days ago, a person I was riding next to in a golf cart noticed how the grass was growing and commented that such rapid growth was sure good for the people who cut grass. I thought to myself, that would be me, but it wasn’t what was meant, of course.

It caused me to reflect on the reality that there are those of us who cut our grass and those who hire someone to do same. Not that one is right or wrong, better or worse….it’s just a different point of view. And, I wondered why.

President Reagan Clears Brush

Many years ago, I attended a small luncheon at a fairly exclusive club in San Francisco with David Packard of Hewlett-Packard. He was a man of great stature and when he entered the room and sat down, all eyes went to the horrible knot with a crusty scab on his forehead. Noticing our collective reaction, he said, “…oh, yeah, a big rock flew up from under my tractor last weekend and hit me right in the forehead.” Seems weekend work on a tractor for this giant of the technology industry of the day was a favorite pastime.

Years later, working for and traveling with President Ronald Reagan to his ranch near Santa Barbara, I came to appreciate how important it was to the leader of the free world to go out on his ranch and clear brush. We could travel to his ranch and brief him on some of the world’s most perilous circumstances in the morning, as long as we moved along so he could go to work removing all manner of dead wood and plant growth before the sun went down.

Growing up and throughout my adult life, I confess to finding any number of reasons to avoid yard work. Allergies became the common rationale for avoiding the work. Of course, the allergy was more directly related to the work than to the grass.

Which brings me to the Eastern Shore.

I’m not sure whether it was the influence of Packard or Reagan or both, but when we settled into our wonderful place on Trippe Creek with a generous portion of lawn and with more time, I decided that I’d cut my own grass. This decision lead me to Atlantic Tractor in New Market where I quickly learned that a small discount tractor just would not do. It was good advice and Atlantic’s service and support have been superb even though my John Deere x380 has been virtually trouble free through nearly 170 hours of operation.

I immediately learned how much I liked every aspect of this work. I enjoy getting the tractor fueled and ready to go to work. I like carefully covering every square inch of our acreage and marvel with satisfaction when every blade of grass sits at precisely the same height. After nearly 3 hours, I am dusty, dirty, thirsty and immensely satisfied!

At this point, there are no small number of you saying, “this is nuts!” My wife calls it crazy…but, she does like the fact that the lawn has never looked better!

The neighbors go by and wave. Some choose to cut their lawns and others hire one of the very capable teams of professionals we have in the area. By the way, the professionals wave every bit as much as the neighbors….it’s a bond of sorts. Only a few people tell me they would never cut their own lawn. However, several who I’ve seen cutting their own lawn share privately how much they, too, enjoy it.

And, so it goes. In an era when it seems so much divides us, those who cut and those who hire manage to happily coexist throughout Kent and Talbot Counties proving you can be different but neighborly at the same time!

Lastly, I’m curious. Where do you fall? If you click below on “cut” or “hire” you can share why you fall into the camp you’ve chosen. I’ll share the results when the votes are in.

Take the CUT or HIRE Survey here

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.