This piece was originally posted on August 29, 2013 and part of our Best of PoliticsNC 2013 series. If you enjoy reading PoliticsNC, please consider a donation to keep us afloat. Thanks
Pat McCrory just can’t help himself. When he meets with reporters, he tells them what he thinks sounds good, regardless of whether it’s true or not. Gary Pearce pointed out this trait earlier in the summer. Now that people have noticed, you would think that he would stop. I don’t think he can.
The latest flap has to do with another self-inflicted wound–the hiring of unqualified campaign staffers to high paying jobs that became even higher paying after $20,000 raises. McCrory should have been shocked and dismayed to have learned about this situation. Instead, he jumped in feet first to defend the indefensible. And he did it in such a way that he left himself no exit.
McCrory said, repeatedly, that these guys were the best qualified applicants for the job and that they beat out older, more experienced people. He went on to say that their pay was increased to meet the state pay scale for people with their skills and abilities. Well, it turns out that nobody can find these other applicants and they don’t have enough education and experience to qualify them for even entry level positions.
At some point, McCrory is going to tell the fib that makes him permanently damaged goods. The question is whether or not he has already done that. If not, he’s close.
I have a hunch that his approval ratings are in free fall right now. Other governors have seen their approval ratings in the toilet and have recovered. However, usually, their numbers tanked because of the economy or specific incidents and they had the political skills to recover.
McCrory does not. He has no sense of nuance and he makes definitive statements that leave him no room to maneuver. The most obvious example is his pledge not to sign the abortion restrictions that he later signed. But there are numerous other examples.
He said he went to Moral Monday protests but he didn’t. He said he never met the video sweepstakes operators but he did. Just last week, McCrory told a WLOS reporter that he “inherited a terrible budget from the previous administration.” In fact, the budget he inherited was from fellow Republicans Thom Tillis and Phil Berger. And in the latest episode, he told reporters that he was involved in the hiring process and that there were more applicants when there really weren’t.
So how does he back off of that? He can’t. So he just digs in and blames the media for his bad press.
And that’s his real problem. To recover, he needs the press. But after eight months of lying to reporters, blaming them for bad headlines and calling them incompetent, he’s lost credibility with the people he needs most. Unless he can rebuild those relationships, Pat McCrory is probably one and done.