Saunders: Choice for governor isn't black and white

bsaunders@newsobserver.comSeptember 30, 2012 

Who died and made Walter Dalton Soul Brother No. 1?

Somebody must have, based on the reason some of his supporters in the N.C. Governor’s race are attacking his opponent Pat McCrory. The former Charlotte mayor, some black Dalton suppporters claim in an online ad, “just doesn’t understand the black experience in North Carolina.”

And Lt. Gov. Walter “Get Down” Dalton does? Rat on.

That’s what some of Dalton’s black backers seem to think because of what they see as McCrory’s effort to appeal to white voters’ fears.

I asked state Rep. Floyd McKissick, who appears in the ad denouncing McCrory’s ad, if Dalton himself understands the black experience in North Carolina.

“I think Dalton certainly has the sensitivity to be as inclusive as possible, which is what we need... He recognizes that education has provided a stairway to the middle class not just for blacks, but for everyone.”

McCrory, McKissick said, would not be a friend of public education in the state.

Of course, you don’t have to be black or a Democrat to relate to black issues or white to speak to white issues. After all, those noted urbanologists Mac Davis and Elvis Presley teamed to write and perform the hit song that, to many, summarized the black experience during the 1960s and ‘70s – “In the Ghetto.”

(I know, I know. That really doesn’t represent our experience any more than a song about a poor white family of 12 living in a rundown doublewide in Appalachia represents the white experience, but some people like their stereotypes neatly wrapped. So keep your nasty letters to yourself.)

McCrory’s side accuses Dalton of making the very same racial appeal that he is accusing them of making.

If guilty, neither Dalton nor McCrory invented racial appeals in political advertising, and there are enough examples of it on both sides without seeing them where they don’t exist. For example, when Newt Gingrich calls President Obama the “food stamp President” or says the president is “lazy,” you almost want to thank Newt for making it so easy to see the real him.

“Almost” my eye: Thanks, Newt.

But does what former Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay says represent the real McCrory?

Gay, after losing a primary bid for re-election in 2010, went on television “and made some insensitive and divisive remarks,” McKissick said. “He accused black people of voting for his opponent only because he was black. He lost that race by (24) points. More than just African-Americans voted for his opponent.”

McKissick blasted McCrory for “buddying up to this guy, despite knowing his history. I wouldn’t do that.”

Neither would I, but is that reason enough to accuse McCrory of race-baiting? No.

Of poor judgment? Yes.

Reasons to fear a McCrory governorship are numerous. His aforementioned stand on funding education and his infuriating tendency in those unctuous television ads to drop his “g’s” as a way of signifying he’s just a good ol’ boy like the rest of us are but two.

Yo, Pat. We are all known by the company we keep. Your chummying up to Gay does imply at least a tacit acceptance of Gay’s tactics. Here’s the deal, though: Regardless of Gay’s views on race or anything else, all you need to know about him is that, after he lost his re-election bid, he turned on black voters and he turned on the Democratic party.

How long, Pat, do you suspect it’ll be before he turns on you?

Saunders: 919-836-2811

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