In the middle of George Bush’s second term, as he was under fire for a myriad of failures, Newsweek ran an animated cover that showed Bush floating in huge bubble. Obama’s critics have lodged the same complaint about him, that he’s isolated from people with differing opinions and dismissive of the criticism of his administration. Both of these instances have occurred in the second term of presidents increasingly separated from the general public, in large part, because of the threat of terrorist attacks in the post-911 world.
In North Carolina, though, Pat McCrory and the Republican legislature are creating their own bubbles while we watch. In the legislature, the GOP’s right-wing trotted out bills that appalled many North Carolinians and made the state a national laughing stock. While Speaker Thom Tillis reined in some their antics, his counterpart in the Senate, Phil Berger, has pandered to the more extreme elements of the party.
In the state Senate, it seems, Republicans are trying justify their actions by creating polling information that supports their positions. That’s only fooling yourself. We saw this same phenomenon with the Romney campaign and it didn’t work out so well for them.
In the executive branch, Pat McCrory has generally been hiding from the bad publicity of the legislature but has condoned the type of insider influence peddling that finally brought down the Democrats. His Chief of Staff and Secretary of Public Safety both have wives running lobbying operations. The Governor told journalists this week that he’s set up precautions and “firewalls” to ensure that there are no conflicts of interests.
Sorry, Gov, but from the outside looking in, just hiring your Chief of Staff’s wife for government relations work sure looks like a conflict of interest. Nobody really believes a firewall exists at the breakfast table.
Bubbles usually occur after years of being in power and increasingly removed from the voters who originally elected you. In the North Carolina legislature, they’re being created because the ideologues are justifying their actions by only talking to themselves. The Governor’s bubble seems to be a product of inexperience in the Raleigh political world and a fundamental lack of understanding of the sacrifices of public service.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >