If you had a life in the mid-1970s – which means you probably didn’t have zits the size of Volkswagens on your forehead that condemned you to hanging out in your room the way Quasimodo stayed in that bell tower – you probably don’t remember a TV show called “Carter Country.”
I, therefore, remember it well.
It was set in a fictional Georgia town and was intended to capitalize on the election of President Carter during that brief period when country was cool with the rest of world and every society doyenne was scrambling to figure out what color wine goes with grits.
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“Carter Country” wasn’t a great show, but it was good and it had memorable characters, among them a sheriff named Roy Mobey and an effete mayor named Teddy Burnside.
Whenever the mayor got exasperated with his sheriff, which happened at least once per episode, he’d slowly shake his head and repeat “Roy, Roy, Roy,” making the name sound as though it had two syllables, minimum.
That’s what Democratic voters ought to be doing now, shaking their heads exasperatedly and going “Roy, Roy, Roy.”
It appears that North Carolina’s best-known Roy – attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper – is fixing to commit the same politically fatal faux pas that ended Kay Hagan’s political career after one unmemorable term in the U.S. Senate: he, as she did, is fleeing the candidate at the top of the national Democratic ticket the way a vegan flees an undercooked hog maw.
Who can forget the way Kay Hagan, the incumbent who owed her political fortunes to President Obama’s coattails in 2008, made it a point to never be in the same hemisphere as the president when he came to the state?
Who can forget the way Hagan, the incumbent who owed her political fortunes to President Obama’s coattails in 2008, made it a point to never be in the same hemisphere as the president when he came to the state?
One time, I think, she said she was washing her hair when he came a-callin’.
Whatever she was doing, she was no doubt adhering to the counsel of pollsters who’d convinced her that victory lay in, if not repudiating a president deemed to be toxically unpopular in the state - turns out he wasn’t - then in at least never being seen with him. Hagan followed the advice of these advisers, even though most of them were so unattuned to North Carolina that they couldn’t find Fuquay-Varina if you put them on Highway 55 from Durham with a full tank of gas.
Cooper may be using that same playbook.
When Hillary Clinton spoke at the State Fairgrounds last week, Cooper wasn’t there.
Neither was Deborah Ross, the Senate candidate. She, at least, had an excuse: she had a previously scheduled event all the way across the country in High Point. The logistics of getting from High Point to Raleigh in a timely manner are indeed challenging - if, that is, you take a bus from El Segundo.
It is, otherwise, a 90-minute drive.
Ross’s excuse for missing Clinton’s visit was better than the one offered by Cooper: he didn’t have one. When I asked Ford Porter, Cooper’s spokesman, if his candidate was intentionally keeping distance between Hillary and himself, he said “Not at all. I’m not certain what the schedule was, but we look forward to working with her to save the state from a Trump-McCrory administration.”
Despite such assurances, Democrats should hope that both candidates at the top of the state’s ticket won’t, like one-hit wonder Hagan, try to float through the election to victory without embracing the person at the top of the national ticket.
Most voters are astute enough to understand that just because you stand on a stage with a candidate, you don’t necessarily stand for everything she or he does.
If the state’s top-ticket candidates are intentionally avoiding Clinton, sisterwoman may be forced to go into her musical bag and entreat them to join her onstage like another one-hit wonder, The Floaters, and their epochal song “Float On.” Maestro, hit it:
Vote on, vote on.
Vote on, vote on.
Scorpio, and my name is Hillary. I like all the voters of the world. I like a man who can hold his own, a man who’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes in. If this is you, just listen:
Take my hand
Come with me baby to tour this land
Let me show you how sweet it could be
Sharing a stage with Hillary.
I want you to
Vote on Vote on.
Gemini, and my name is Roy. Now, I like a woman who’s quiet, who carries herself like Miss Universe, a woman who’s loved by everything and everybody, a woman who hasn’t been investigated for the past 30 years even though she hasn’t been charged or convicted of a single thing. If you fit this description, baby, this is all I’ve got to say:
Take my hand
Ride with me baby down to Hoffman.
Then we’ll ride over to Chapel Hill
Where they’re so liberal you can even bring Bill.
Vote on, vote on.
Vote with me, baby.