When the rumor surfaced yesterday that arch-right-wing money bags and politcal attack ad king Art Pope would be Pat McCrory’s new budget director, there was a lot denial amongst the folks we talk with over here at Policy Watch. Folks simply couldn’t believe that the new Guv would take such an outrageous and politically risky step.
This would be like a President Romney appointing the Koch brothers as his directors of the EPA and IRS.
But, here we are, 24 hours later, getting our arms around the idea that the man actually did it! Today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File will explore this momentous decision in more detail so be on the lookout, but here is a preliminary take:
In one fell swoop, before he’s even taken office, Pat McCrory has done at least three very ill-advised things:
1. He’s destroyed any notion that he has moderate tendencies that might allow him to govern somewhere closer to the middle. Pope is the leader of one of the nation’s most extreme, right-wing Tea Party groups, Americans for Prosperity. You can’t place such a man in charge of your most important legislation (i.e. the state budget) and pretend to be a moderate.
2. He’s raised enormous ethical issues for himself and his administration. How do state lawmakers work with a man with millions of dollars and a record as long as your arm of mounting destructive attack ad campaigns against politicians with whom he disagrees?
3. He’s called his own authority and role into question. How can McCrory be Pope’s boss when it is Pope who has all the money and power? Is he really going to crack the whip and tell Pope to toe the line that he establishes? Obviously, to ask that question is to answer it. If anyone’s going to be giving orders in the new administration, it’s clearly going to be Pope. The bottom line, if Pope is now the state’s “deputy budget director,” Pat McCrory is now Deputy Governor.
J.W. Williamson was the founding editor in 1972 of the Appalachian Journal: A Regional Studies Review, which he edited until July of 2000. He has taught college classes in Appalachian history, cultural politics, and literature, and he has lectured widely on the pop-culture history of "Appalachia" in the American consciousness. His books include Interviewing Appalachia, Southern Mountaineers in Silent Films, and Hillbillyland: What the Mountains Did to the Movies and What the Movies Did to the Mountains. He has won the Thomas Wolfe Award given by the Western North Carolina Historical Society, the Laurel Leaves Award given by the Appalachian Consortium, a special Weatherford Award given by Berea College, and the Cratis Williams-James Brown Award given by the Appalachian Studies Association.
The views expressed on WataugaWatch are solely those of J.W. Williamson or individual contributors and are not necessarily shared nor endorsed by the Watauga County Democratic Party nor by any other adults of sound mind in this or any other universe.