One alternative to the permanent campaign: More substance

Pat McCrory 4In some regards, of course, there’s no avoiding the permanent campaign that modern politics has become. Especially when lots of individuals and corporations with fat wallets are willing to underwrite it, there’s not much a body can do about the endless, manipulative TV ads except change the channel.

That said, the notion that Gov. McCrory’s team is already revving up a TV campaign (and, frankly, not a very good one) to spruce up his badly battered image just eight months into his governorship does serve to highlight something very important that is missing from McCrory’s performance thus far: substance.

As we have noted in this space before, the Governor is a seemingly affable guy who can even display refreshing flashes of self-deprecation and humility on occasion. What he has failed to display during his first several months in office, however, is a real ability to immerse himself in complex subjects, master them and then translate that mastery into a consistent and persuasive message that resonates with the public. 

For whatever reason, he just doesn’t seem all there. From the failures to remember the names and pronunciations of the people that work for him to the improvised and constantly shifting explanations for administration gaffes to the inability to lead his own party to the obvious failures to absorb the substance of numerous bills he’s signed into law, the Governor seems distracted and unfocused.

Sometimes, when you listen to him, it’s as if you’re listening to a reasonably smart college student who didn’t do the reading and is trying to get by on charm and guile.

Obviously, the Guv is not the first politician to suffer from this problem. Some manage to get around it by surrounding themselves with super-smart, super-prepared staffers who can make up for their bosses’ short attention spans. Unfortunately, this is another area in which McCrory has come up short.

So, not that anyone over in the mansion is probably interested in advice from a progressive critic, but if the man really wants to turn things around for himself, he would do well to forget about the hastily-produced and annoying TV ads and do two very hard, but very important things ASAP:

1) The Guv should read more and become more of a policy wonk. He needs to get past the sound bites and really become the best-informed person in his administration on at least a couple of major subjects. As anyone who has ever lobbied the General Assembly can attest, there’s simply no substitute for knowing your subject better than your adversaries. McCrroy clearly is not there yet.

2) He needs to hire better help. This means ditching the reliance on far right ideologues and campaign flaks. The governor needs to hire more seasoned, professional public administrators — serious and experienced people who have worked in government and believe in it. This doesn’t mean they can’t be conservative, but they need to have significant relevant experience in managing a bureaucracy and the gravitas to be able to tell him when he’s full of baloney.

The bottom line: It’s still early in the Governor’s term — he can turn things around politically. But so long as his strategy for doing so is simply to ratchet up the spin, don’t look for him to be very effective.



  1. NCCaniac42

    September 10, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Favorite Comment “Sometimes, when you listen to him, it’s as if you’re listening to a reasonably smart college student who didn’t do the reading and is trying to get by on charm and guile”

  2. ML

    September 10, 2013 at 10:30 am

    NC’s motto: To be, rather than to seem
    His motto: To seem, rather than to be

  3. LayintheSmakDown

    September 10, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I look forward to seeing a democrat candidate and maybe future governor live by the “substance” creedo. Heck Dumplin and Sleazly did have some…..substance…..but it did not smell like a good substance.

  4. Gene Hoglan

    September 10, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    See, you guys don’t get it because you obviously don’t have economics degrees. McCrory’s merely clarifying his brand in order to not have his administration placed in the “All-time Worst Governors in NC History” silo.

  5. Alan

    September 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    To be this unpopular at this stage of the game should seriously worry the guv and the GOP, hence the upcoming adverts. I can’t recall any political ‘leader’ (I use the term loosely) that has become so universally disliked in such a short space of time as this guy. His lack of leadership, not to mention the disregard in which his own team have for him, clearly show he isn’t in charge and is nothing more than an empty suit.

    Keep up the good work Guv, the more you speak the worse it gets for you.

  6. LayintheSmakDown

    September 10, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Well considering the occupants that were in the office the past couple of decades, we are certainly at a step up. I am sure the next dem goober in the office will take it back down to the scummy levels of Dumpleazley and the state controlled press will ignore the “substance”.

  7. david esmay

    September 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    McCrory is known now to say anything for the sake of saying it, as he will say something which is not worth saying. He will go down as just another reactionary politician that will distort his own position and side with his reactionary ideology over the best interests of the people he allegedly represents.

  8. Alan

    September 11, 2013 at 8:37 am


    “We are certainly at a step up”, have you not been paying attention to the local, national, and yes, international news coverage this state has been getting in recent months? And by coverage, I certainly don’t mean in a positive manner, NC has become a national & international embarrassment. Not only has the NC GOP inflicted serious, and perhaps lasting damage to its own brand (here’s hoping…), but tarnished the good reputation the state of NC once had, and embarrasses the US around the world. I’m sure the flat-earthers in the NCGA probably don’t care too much “whut France thinks”, but take note of damage being done to the state, this will have direct implications for investment & job creation here. It’s difficult for me to imagine any company willing to invest in NC considering the negative attention we are receiving on an almost daily basis.

    Additionally, there is no “state controlled press”, that’s just paranoid right wing crazy-talk, the sort of stuff one would expect to hear from Faux News, or World Net Daily, or perhaps these days even from organizations like The Heritage Foundation. Considering the coverage NC has received in recent months, then every single newspaper & TV station, including those outside of the US, must all be under the same “state control”? Now, that’s just plain crazy…

Check Also

Veteran NC business attorney pens open letter to Sen. Tillis over child detention crisis

Press Millen is a veteran North Carolina business ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

With midterm elections around the corner, lawmakers have, unsurprisingly, taken aim at last minute c [...]

On May 25, the news headlines read that Democratic state Senate candidate Jen Mangrum had been disqu [...]

If it seemed impossible that neighbors of industrialized hog farms had any legal rights left to lose [...]

Can you put a price tag on victims' rights? A fiscal note obtained by NC Policy Watch that has [...]

The post SB 711 – The pig’s roast appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

In another effort to pander to the minority of Americans who want to make abortion and birth control [...]

The practice of loading down noncontroversial legislation with divisive and partisan provisions is a [...]

It usually happens a few times every legislative session: at some point during their annual stay in [...]