I am a moderate Democrat on fiscal issues, leaning progressive on social issues. I did not attend a liberal Journalism School, rather I am a UNC Chapel Hill Economics major with an MPA (public policy) also from UNC. I tend to analyze things from a mathematical perspective and a people perspective. So here’s the deal from my middle row seat: the appointment of Art Pope is a political choice Governor-elect McCrory made and it will have political consequences. The extent of those consequences may not be felt immediately but the chatter will make it harder for him to get his message out, something he and his cohorts have already plotted out with the introduction of a new 501c4 foundation.
I don’t know Art Pope. Regardless, I give most folks the benefit of the doubt. No doubt he is a well-meaning person who does some “good” with his family foundation. But that “good” seems to be specifically focused on an extension of his political philosophy and his values. Pope has a right to his views and so does everyone else. There are many people who want to spread the “good” around but don’t have the means to do so. Does that mean Pope shouldn’t do it? Certainly not, but the extent to which he has done so and continues to do so puts a big ole target on his back. And now on McCrory’s. Anytime someone pushes an agenda, a set of values, a philosophy with so much passion, we can’t help but think there is little tolerance for other views.
Then there’s the case of Pope’s associations via “giving” with groups that ran and wrote misleading ads, misrepresenting ads that deceived voters. Okay. Maybe that’s fair in politics. Only the strong survive and you need to have a backbone of steel. But many of these ads have in the past really pushed the line of decency. I wonder how Pope might feel being featured in such an ad. Now that he’s on the inside, he’s fair game.
So, McCrory appoints Pope to a job on the inside of his administration. Why? There are many other Republicans who have served as business leaders and worked on budgets. Most of those folks have not funded a network of think tanks and SuperPacs who “helped” those with the same philosophy get elected for which we can only assume there is some level of gratitude.
The average voter will eventually see the hunger and lust for power. The average voter will eventually see obscene amounts of money with anonymous gift tags. Appearances are everything in politics. Pope could be on the outside and still be persuasive and persistent in the new Governor’s policy direction. The only answer for being appointed to the inside is so he can be the fireball of drastic changes to state government and to policy directions through appointments and reorganizations. That role necessitates he be on the inside so there is less appearance of conflict of interest. But, on the inside, he’s a viable and easy target of negative messaging. Being on the inside means he is a public servant who should be working for all taxpayers.
Appointing someone when you know there is controversy and will be more controversy casts a dark cloud on the Governor-Elect’s judgment in the opening days and a distraction for the issues affecting every North Carolinian.
Jeanne Bonds is a PR Consultant, Political Analyst and an NC SPIN panelist.
Cross-Post: NC Spin
Political Choices have Political Consequences