Commentary

Saunders: C is for cookie ... and condescension, McCrory's critics say

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJuly 31, 2013 

And you thought he didn’t care.

You know all of those people who’ve been accusing Gov. Pat McCrory of being insensitive and unconcerned with anything other than slashing corporate taxes, Medicaid and unemployment insurance?

They were forced to eat their words Tuesday when the governor magnanimously delivered unto a group of protesters a plateful of chocolate chip cookies.

That’s right – cookies. To women.

You see, protesters who felt that Gov. McCrory had reneged on a Candidate McCrory promise to veto any laws restricting abortion access were gathered outside the Executive Mansion holding signs, when McCrory emerged with what looked to be a baker’s dozen of the sweets.

Accompanied by four bodyguards who stopped traffic, McCrory came as far as the middle of the street and motioned for one of the protesters to meet him halfway. The bodyguards were, of course, superfluous, since any motorist who saw the governor standing in the middle of the street holding a plateful of cookies at 2 p.m. would have slammed on brakes anyway – and taken a vow of sobriety henceforth.

‘Help me. Help me.’

After beckoning Jamie Sohn, presenting the plate to her and mouthing some platitudes, the governor, witness Paige Johnson said, turned back to the mansion with his bodyguards – leaving Sohn in the middle of the street to fend against traffic alone.

“She called out to them ,‘Help me. Help me,’” Johnson said.

“That’s when the mother hen in me came out,” said Johnson, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central N.C..

Johnson noted that Sohn had recently fallen and injured her knee. “She called the bodyguards and they came back” and stopped traffic for Sohn to limp back to the other side of the street, Johnson said.

If taking cookies to protesters isn’t a populist, man-of-the-people move, I’ll eat a dead possum fried in turpentine – which is more than the protesters did with the cookies. They took them back to the mansion gate with a note that read “Gov. McCrory, will take women’s health over cookies.”

How about respect?

The governor, before returning to the task of making life tougher for the poor and middle class, probably asked the question posed by Sigmund Freud and every other man: what do women want?

How about some face time? How about some respect?

They received neither, despite delivering to the governor a petition with more than 35,000 signatures last week asking him to keep his promise.

“We were more hopeful than anyone on the planet” when candidate McCrory said he’d veto any bill restricting abortion rights, Johnson said. The governor signing the bill Monday, she said, “was crushing, but expected. He’d already said Friday that he would sign it. We were prepared.”

Johnson said the protesters were not prepared, though, for what happened moments after McCrory signed the bill.

“He came out on the balcony and waved,” she said.

No, he didn’t, girlfriend.

“Yes, he did,” she said.

Oy.

“We weren’t prepared for the wave, and we certainly weren’t prepared for the cookies,” she said. “These women care passionately about women’s health, and they’d been standing out there for two days and he’d had no communications with us. We have volunteers who’ve traveled for hours to be here, who have taken off from work and gotten arrested” yet had not seen the governor.

“I can’t even explain to you how I felt – the condescension to bring women a plate of cookies. We were blown away,” she said.

When she returned home, Johnson said, even her 15-year-old son knew that what the governor did was sexist. “He said ‘Mom, he would have never brought cookies to men,’” Johnson said.

If he had, we’d have been equally outraged. “Do you think you can mollify us with cookies? What, no milk? You take this plate and ...”

We would have eaten the cookies and then thrown the empty plate at the mansion, by which time the state police would have descended upon us with billy clubs.

You don’t reckon that the governor, looking out the window and seeing that some of the women were dressed in early 1960s-era styles, concluded that polemic political activists had reverted to compliant, cookie-baking June Cleavers, do you?

Supporters of the governor will likely view this rejection of the cookies as yet another example of liberals and progressives not being appreciative of his outreach efforts.

Speaking of Freud, in one of his dream interpretations, the famed psychoanalyst supposedly told a patient that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Likewise, McCrory and his supporters will say, sometimes a cookie is just a cookie.

Of course, at other times it can be a veiled suggestion to protesting women that, “Now, this is how you bake a cookie, Cookie.”

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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