McCrory facing problems with leadership

July 15, 2013 

Well, the whole confused and even rather bizarre tale of Gov. Pat McCrory’s encounters with Moral Monday demonstrators was sort of an amusing little aside by the time the governor’s office got around to explaining that, no, the chief executive didn’t mean that he had attended any protest. What he did, the governor later said, was meet and talk to folks while walking to work and around town.

The story seemed a little peculiar given that a governor has a rather visible security detail that is properly fussy about his interactions. But the truth is, this bit of back-and-forth is really insignificant in the scheme of things.

The scheme has been pretty complicated lately. So much so that McCrory at times seems like a fellow who’s learning the hard way, the very hard way, that one can be the mayor of big-city Charlotte for 14 years, as he has been, and still be perplexed by a promotion to governor.

In running for governor in 2008 and 2012, McCrory seemed to be a rather conservative but occasionally moderate business-type Republican in the mold of his two Republican predecessors of the 20th century, Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin. But once in office, the governor named conservative businessman Art Pope as his budget chief, and in that role Pope, a big contributor to the campaigns of a number of GOP legislators, seems to be involved in a lot more policy than number crunching.

Political power

But now a cantankerous General Assembly, run by Republicans, has been doing a little number on itself, with the Senate fussing with the House over tax reform, the Commerce Department’s role in business recruitment, abortion and the state budget. McCrory seems more aligned with the House.

On Monday, McCrory did seem to shake off some cobwebs, announcing with House Speaker Thom Tillis and Phil Berger, president pro tem of the Senate, what he billed as revolutionary tax reform, vowing it would put more money in every pocket. Unfortunately, reform will come with a huge loss in anticipated revenue and seems at first glance to benefit wealthier people more than the middle class. Then there’s the theme of needing to make the state more “competitive” for business. It already is ranked as pro-business.

And there’s still the state budget hanging out there. Likewise, attempts to change requirements for abortion clinics, a move some opponents suspect is a not-so-veiled ideological attempt to curb abortion rights. The Commerce Department changes are lingering ... somewhere.

All this after Republicans, including McCrory, vowed to bring organization and efficiency and money-savings and job creation to the state – and quickly. Government was broken, McCrory said in his campaigns.

Elusive ‘comeback’

McCrory’s response to a recent New York Times editorial about North Carolina’s seeming retreat from progressive government was more stump speech than a strong statement of purpose. He spoke of “problem-solving leadership,” of “significant movement,” of economic development, of “collaborative, problem-solving, focused leadership” of the kind he showed in Charlotte.

The problem is, if there has been a “comeback” of the type McCrory claimed in that letter to the editor of the Times, it’s not obvious to the unemployed North Carolinians still desperately looking for work or to business recruiters who fear the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment pushed by Republicans will cost the state new business. Republican attacks on public education have prompted that same type of fear.

Republicans, including McCrory, said they were going to accomplish things. So far, they’ve broken the eggs, but they haven’t delivered the omelette.

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