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March 19. 2012 7:07PM

A leader's incivility: A telling tolerance

At a party dinner on Friday, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley called Republican New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien one of two words: either “baboon” or “buffoon.” Reports conflict. When asked by a reporter for this newspaper what he had said, here was Buckley's clarification:

“I called him a buffoon. I wouldn't want to insult baboons.”

What class.

This is hardly a first for Buckley, who in fact is well-known for making cheap, personal insults. He regularly refers to Republicans as clowns. Last September, at the state Democratic Party convention, he referred to Republicans as “that whole whack-a-do gang.”

One might expect this kind of sophomoric sniping from an overzealous unpaid intern for the College Democrats. Buckley, though, is the official head of the state Democratic Party, and has been since 2007.

A decade ago, then-Manchester Republican Committee Chairman Joe-Kelly Levasseur called then-state Democratic Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan a pig. In response, the Manchester Democratic Committee chairman denounced Levasseur's incivility and established a Civility Fund to raise money to elect city Democrats. That chairman was Ray Buckley.

As always with Buckley, it's never about principle, but politics. He is for civility when being for civility helps his party, and against it when that helps his party.

That is not the case for all Democrats in New Hampshire. Gov. Lynch, for example, is as civil and kind a man as one will find in politics. That he and others continue to silently tolerate Buckley's childishness year after year is a mark against them.

Will any high-profile New Hampshire Democrats speak out publicly against this name-calling? Probably not. And that's something to remember the next time they denounce a Republican for not being civil.


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