John H. Sununu
John H. Sununu
|Chair of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee|
January 17, 2009 – January 22, 2011
|Preceded by||Fergus Cullen|
|Succeeded by||Jack Kimball|
|14th White House Chief of Staff|
January 20, 1989 – December 15, 1991
|President||George H. W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Ken Duberstein|
|Succeeded by||Samuel K. Skinner|
|75th Governor of New Hampshire|
January 6, 1983 – January 4, 1989
|Preceded by||Vesta M. Roy (acting)|
|Succeeded by||Judd Gregg|
|Chair of the National Governors Association|
July 28, 1987 – August 9, 1988
|Preceded by||Bill Clinton|
|Succeeded by||Gerald Baliles|
John Henry Sununu
July 2, 1939
|Children||8, including John and Chris|
|Education||Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS, MS, PhD)|
John Henry Sununu (born July 2, 1939) is an American politician who was the 75th Governor of New Hampshire (1983–1989) and later White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush. He is the father of John E. Sununu, the former United States Senator from New Hampshire, and Christopher Sununu, the current governor of New Hampshire. Sununu was the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2009 to 2011.
Early life and education
Sununu was born in Havana, Cuba while his parents were visiting Cuba on a business trip. He is the son of John Saleh Sununu, an international film distributor, and Victoria Sununu (née Dada). His father's family came to the United States from Lebanon at the turn of the 20th century. His father's ancestry is from the Greek Orthodox Lebanese and Palestinian communities in Jerusalem and Beirut. John Saleh Sununu was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His mother Victoria Dada was born in El Salvador. Her family were also Greek Orthodox practitioners of Lebanese and Palestinian descent and had settled in Central America at the turn of the 20th century. Sununu visited Beirut, Lebanon as a child in the late 1940s. He grew up in New York City and graduated from the La Salle Military Academy on Long Island.
Sununu earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1961, a Master of Science degree in 1963, and a Ph.D. in 1966 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in mechanical engineering. He is a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.
From 1966 to 1982 he taught at Tufts University, where he was an associate professor of mechanical engineering. He was the associate dean of the University's College of Engineering from 1968 to 1973. As of 1988, Sununu retained his title and family tuition benefits from Tufts during an "extremely rare" unpaid six-year leave of absence that coincided with his governorship. He was on the Advisory Board of the Technology and Policy Program at MIT from 1984 until 1989.
Sununu became New Hampshire's 75th Governor on January 6, 1983, and was re-elected twice to hold the position for three consecutive terms. He was the first Arab-American Governor of New Hampshire. Sununu was chairman of the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, the Republican Governors Association and, in 1987, the National Governors Association.
Sununu angered some when he was the only governor of a U.S. state not to call for repeal of the controversial UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 ("Zionism is racism"). He later reversed his position on this issue and supported the Republicans' pro-Israel 1988 platform.
White House Chief of Staff
Sununu is considered to have engineered Bush's mid-term abandonment of his 1988 campaign promise of "no new taxes". In his report Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change, Nathaniel Rich wrote that in November 1989 Sununu prevented the signing of a 67-nation commitment at the Noordwijk Climate Conference to freeze carbon dioxide emissions, with a reduction of 20 percent by 2005, and singled him out as a force starting coordinated efforts to bewilder the public on the topic of global warming and changing it from an urgent, nonpartisan and unimpeachable issue to a political one. Interviewed as to his involvement in preventing an agreement, he stated: "It couldn’t have happened, because, frankly, the leaders in the world at that time were at a stage where they were all looking how to seem like they were supporting the policy without having to make hard commitments that would cost their nations serious resources. Frankly, that’s about where we are today."
Sununu is responsible for recommending David Souter of New Hampshire to President George H. W. Bush for appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, at the behest of his close friend, then-U.S. Senator and fellow New Hampshirite Warren Rudman. The Wall Street Journal described the events leading up to the appointment of the "liberal jurist" in a 2000 editorial, saying Rudman in his "Yankee Republican liberalism" took "pride in recounting how he sold Mr. Souter to gullible White House chief of staff John Sununu as a confirmable conservative. Then they both sold the judge to President Bush, who wanted above all else to avoid a confirmation battle [after Robert Bork]." Rudman wrote in his memoir that he had "suspected all along" that Souter would not "overturn activist liberal precedents." Sununu later said that he had "a lot of disappointment" about Souter's positions on the Court and would have preferred him to be more similar to Justice Antonin Scalia.
As White House Chief of Staff, Sununu reportedly took personal trips, for skiing and other purposes, and classified them as official, for purposes such as conservation or promoting the Thousand Points of Light. The Washington Post wrote that Sununu's jets "took him to fat-cat Republican fund-raisers, ski lodges, golf resorts and even his dentist in Boston." Sununu had paid the government only $892 for his more than $615,000 worth of military jet travel. Sununu said that his use of the jets was necessary because he had to be near a telephone at all times for reasons of national security. Sununu became the subject of much late-night television humor over the incident. Sununu worsened the situation shortly afterwards when, after leaking rumors of financial difficulties in his family, he traveled to a rare stamp auction at Christie's auction house in New York City from Washington in a government limousine, spending $5,000 on rare stamps. Sununu then sent the car and driver back to Washington unoccupied while he returned on a corporate jet. In the course of one week, 45 newspapers ran editorials on Sununu, nearly all of them critical of his actions. Sununu resigned his White House post on December 4, 1991. Sununu repaid over $47,000 to the government for the flights on the orders of White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, with the help of the Republican Party. However, the reimbursements were at commercial rates, which are about one-tenth the cost of the actual flights; one ski trip to Vail, Colorado alone had cost taxpayers $86,330.
From 1963 until 1983, he was President of JHS Engineering Company and Thermal Research Inc. In addition, he helped establish and worked as chief engineer for Astro Dynamics Inc. from 1960 until 1965.
Sununu is President of JHS Associates, Ltd. and is a partner in Trinity International Partners, a private financial firm. He is also a member of Honorary Council of Advisors for U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC).
Awards and honors
He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1990 for exceptionally significant creativity in energy systems development, in engineering education, and in integration of technological advances with public policy.
In his report Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change, Nathaniel Rich wrote that in November 1989 Sununu prevented the signing of a 67-nation commitment to freeze carbon dioxide emissions, with a reduction of 20 percent by 2005, and singled him out as a force starting coordinated efforts to bewilder the public on the topic of global warming and changing it from an urgent, nonpartisan and unimpeachable issue to a political issue, and an increasingly intractable one.
Sununu is married to the former Nancy Hayes, and they have eight children, including former U.S. Senator John E. Sununu and Chris Sununu, formerly a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council and currently the Governor of New Hampshire. In recent years, he moved from Salem, New Hampshire to Hampton Falls, New Hampshire to be closer to relatives. He and his wife were subsequently elected as the town's honorary hog reeves and poundkeepers. The title is usually given to an unsuspecting newcomer each year.
Sununu is a fluent Spanish speaker.
In popular culture
In January 1995, John Sununu made a cameo appearance on the first episode of the Delta Burke CBS sitcom, Women of the House, titled "Miss Sugarbaker Goes to Washington". In the episode, Suzanne Sugarbaker is a guest on the CNN political program, Crossfire. Michael Kinsley also appears.
In the 1996 film Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, a clip (from This Island Earth) of a jet plane prompts Tom Servo to quip, "John Sununu goes for a haircut." The joke was a recurring one on the original series, as well.
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- "Remarks by Senator John Sununu at ATFP Inaugural Gala". ATFP. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
- "Behind the Sununu Surname". The New York Times. November 21, 1988. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
- "Sununu Known for Delight in Exerting Power". November 18, 1988.
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- AP (November 28, 1988). "Sununu Keeps Link to Tufts 6 Years After Quitting Faculty - The New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
- Pichirallo, Joe; Rezendes, Michael (March 12, 1989). "THE FORCEFUL STYLE OF JOHN SUNUNU". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
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- "Bush's Bad Cop"
- York, Byron (December 10, 2011). "Read-my-lips feud returns in Romney-Gingrich fight". washingtonexaminer.com. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- Nathaniel Rich (August 1, 2018). "Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
- "Editorial: A chilling story about climate change". Concord Monitor. August 26, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- "Chief Justice Souter?". Wall Street Journal. February 29, 2000.
- Tinsley E. Yarbrough (2005). "David Hackett Souter: Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court". Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195347906. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
- Bush, George W. (2010). Decision Points. Crown. pp. 81–82. ISBN 978-0-307-59061-9.
- NY Times (xx 1991) "Sununu as Symbol; Departure of Embattled Chief of Staff Removes Convenient Target of Critics"
- Rosenthal, Andrew (December 4, 1991). "SUNUNU RESIGNS UNDER FIRE AS CHIEF AIDE TO PRESIDENT; CITES FEAR OF HURTING BUSH". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
- SUNUNU RESIGNS UNDER FIRE AS CHIEF AIDE TO PRESIDENT; CITES FEAR OF HURTING BUSH
- "Air Sununu Grounded". The Washington Post. May 10, 1991.
- "The control tower takes over Air Sununu". US News & World Report. May 20, 1991.
- Rosenthal, Andrew (April 23, 1991). "Sununu Travel Records to Be Opened". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
- Duffy, Michael (July 1, 1991). "The White House: A Bad Case of the Perks". Time. Archived from the original on January 27, 2008. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
- "Too Much Sununu News?; Post Said to Ignore Democrats' Abuses". The Washington Post. June 28, 1991.
- "My so-called famous classmate". Salon. June 1, 2004. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
- "The flights of Air Sununu; the White House chief of staff mixed politics and playtime on some of his 'official' trips. (John Sununu)". US News & World Report. May 6, 1991.
- "Sununu Known for Delight in Exerting Power". Los Angeles Times. November 18, 1988. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
- "USACC. Brent Scowcroft". Archived from the original on April 11, 2009. Retrieved April 22, 2010.
- Nathaniel Rich (August 1, 2018). "Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved August 1, 2018.[verification needed]
- Morse, Susan. "From governor to hog reeve". Portsmouth Herald. March 25, 2007
- McQuaid, Cate (July 2, 2010). "On the waterfront New Hampshire museum's dazzling if uneven exhibit is a sprawling take on contemporary art, 'At the Edge'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear at IMDb
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 1, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
Media related to John H. Sununu at Wikimedia Commons