As the national news and opinion stories about North Carolina’s recent disastrous policy turns (especially the decision to terminate federal emergency unemployment benefits) pile up, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is not good news for any political aspirations that Gov. Pat McCrory might harbor.
While conservatives will dismiss stories in the New York Times, Time, the BBC and various national magazines as merely the work of the “liberal media,” the plain truth is that no one is going to develop any kind of positive national political profile with such coverage. Oh sure, McCrory can — like Scott Walker before him — win the plaudits of Fox News and the Washington Times, but that is simply not going to cut it in the long run with the bulk of the mainstream national political establishment. This is especially true if, as has been the case, McCrory is continually portrayed as the lapdog of Art Pope and the Koch Brothers.
Now, all of this may be academic — like both Mike Easley and Bev Perdue, McCrory has never really given the impression that he possesses the requisite intellectual heft or political gifts to be a real national political player — but it’s also clear to anyone who has paid any attention at all to the ambitious former Charlotte mayor that he’s thought about it and has aspirations. Stories touting him as a “Republican to watch” were easy to come by after his electoral victory last fall.
Now, however, after six months of being kicked around by a legislature of his own party and several absurd, reactionary and unpopular policy gaffes (not to mention the fact that he remains essentially invisible in the state capital), it’s already becoming quite clear that North Carolina’s long, post-Jim Hunt run without a governor of any meaningful national profile will continue for the foreseeable future.