Richard Greene

When being trashed by strangers comes with the territory

Friends often ask me how I feel when I am excoriated by readers who don’t like what I’ve had to say in some of my weekly commentaries.

I respond with two consistent answers.

First, I explain those who embrace liberal views of how our country ought to be governed are as passionate about socialist policies as I am about conservative values.

Second, I tell them I am not bothered by responses from those who resort to personal trashing instead of defending their disagreement with me on the merits of issues and the behaviors of those elected to serve us.

My experience with people who stoop to personal attack is that such grouches have little substance for their argument and that leaves them with only the cheap shots of name-calling.

I don’t get such nastiness from people who know me.

They may not always agree with me, but they are courteous in their comments.

It is those I’ve never met who decide to malign me personally and hold me in contempt because they don’t like my opinions.

A great example is provided by the writer of a recent letter to the editor who labeled me an incompetent political hack and said my description of my role in service to the United States was sanctimonious.

His invective was supported by his own hackery, born of blind allegiance to Hillary Clinton and defense of her indefensible violations of federal law and rules that have now been fully documented in sworn testimony before congressional investigators.

Reports of increased scrutiny by the FBI of all her complicated email practices seem to contradict any conclusion that no such rules existed, as the writer claimed.

He went on to say my description of her unique private arrangement with herself was nonsensical.

If the FBI agreed, they wouldn’t be wasting their time.

He also asserted I obtained my federal appointment from President George W. Bush as an act of cronyism, saying I was unqualified for the job the president assigned to me.

Since he wasn’t privy to the call when the president asked me to take on the role of a regional administrator at the EPA, his conclusion exposes his ignorance and desire to simply be hateful.

Just a cursory look at Arlington’s emergence as a leader in the region’s environmental protection and sustainability initiatives during my 10-year tenure as mayor would produce qualifications in that area of public life for which the letter writer is totally oblivious.

However, it wasn’t the experience in environmental matters as much as it was that of the workings of local government for which the president sought in my service.

Citing the reality that political appointees to the agency are surrounded by many thousands of the world’s best environmental professionals carrying out the daily work given to them by Congress, the president wanted something else from me.

He felt the next era of advancing the cause of protecting the environment would be achieved at the local level.

His knowledge of my 22 years of serving in appointive and elective office led him to believe I could encourage a greater role of city and county leaders in joining that effort.

By the end of his two terms in office, President Bush was able to look back and see that our nation’s air was cleaner, the water purer and the land better protected than an any time in the history of the EPA.

To what extent I was able to contribute to that outcome is a matter for history to interpret from the record left behind from those years.

I’m entirely comfortable with that, and it’s why I can so readily accommodate hateful characterizations of my service and my opinions.

Richard Greene is a former Arlington mayor and served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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