Imagine if Democrats controlled Congress and ignored what President Obama wants. Think about him vetoing bills they passed and both houses overriding his vetoes. Congress passes legislation that he thinks is unimportant but when he sets a major policy goal, oh, that’s another matter. The Democrats said, well, maybe. We’ll think about it.
It would be embarrassing for Obama, a wonderful opportunity for Republicans to make fun of his lack of leadership ability and a campaign issue that the man can’t even control his own party. (Update: When this happens nationally, this is how the N.Y. Times describes it.)
Welcome to North Carolina, except that it’s the GOP mocking the governor.
Republicans control the General Assembly and the governor’s mansion. But there’s no visible sign that Gov. Pat McCrory, the top-ranking state official, wields much power. He’s more like the mayor in a weak-mayor city. He can do ribbon-cuttings and political rallies, but he has no vote. Let’s look:
* He vetoed legislation that gives businesses the right to sue employees who expose trade secrets or take pictures of their workplaces. It was overridden, no problem.
* He vetoed legislation to allow some state employees to opt-out of performing same-sex marriages. It was overridden, no problem.
* He opposes — along with the state’s sheriffs association — an omnibus gun bill that would loosen handgun restrictions. It hasn’t passed yet, but it could be.
* He has expressed mild dismay.about the legislature meddling in local government affairs, which hasn’t slowed legislators down one bit.
* The legislature continues to place further restrictions on women’s access to abortion, with no regard to McCrory’s campaign statement that he would not support any restrictions. (He doesn’t pay any regard to his statement either, redefining the meaning of the word “restrictions.”)
* His big ticket item, the thing that he travels around the state campaigning for, are two bond packages totaling $2.8 billion for road construction, infrastructure and college buildings. What do the leaders of the legislature think? Speaker of the House Tim Moore: “I think there’ll be some significant differences in what the bond proposal that I’ve seen with the executive branch and what our bond proposal would look like.” Senate leader Phil Berger: “I don’t think there’s substantial support for the transportation side of the bonds.”
No, the governor isn’t having the best year, bless his heart. I’m wondering why the legislature continues to embarrass the governor of its own party. When the Democrats controlled two of the three branches of state government, they never did their governor this way — even if, say, one of the more recent ones deserved it.
* The GOP legislators have the power and they ain’t giving it up for anyone. Period. And they don’t care what happens as long as they get their way right now.
* The GOP legislators are true believers in their causes and aren’t stopping for any objections.
* The GOP legislators don’t care for the governor and enjoy making him out to be a loser.
* The governor actually agrees with 99.9% of the laws the legislature is sending him and is truly happy about the way things are going.
* The governor vetoed a couple of the laws to kick-start his re-election campaign, hoping that middle-of-the-road Democrats would think that moderate Pat was back and think, “well, with that Legislature, what are you going to do?”
* The governor (and staff) doesn’t know how to throw the sharp elbows necessary to get things done in politics.
I don’t know which or how many of these are right. To me, making the governor out to be powerless is a short-sighted strategy. It weakens him, both in the eyes of his own party and to moderate Democrats and Independents. And a weakened incumbent against a decent opponent is beatable.
No one likes to be associated with loser, and that’s what Gov. McCrory is shaping up to be.
Update: Gov. McCrory released a statement in response to the legislature’s override of his veto this morning. Its last sentence is interesting: “While some people inside the beltline are focusing on symbolic issues, I remain focused on the issues that are going to have the greatest impact on the next generation such as creating jobs, building roads, strengthening education and improving our quality of life.”
I conclude that he doesn’t care much about the social issues that polarize the state.