Under the Dome

John Hood: There is not a moderate Pat and a conservative Pat

John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, says its a myth that there are two Pat McCrory's - a moderate Pat and a conservative Pat. This is what he wrote on his column, Daily Journal.

"With Pat McCrory not yet inaugurated as the next governor of North Carolina, there is already a conventional wisdom about his administration – that he will have to choose “which Pat” will move into the governor’s mansion.

Will it be the former mayor of Charlotte, ask the pundits, who governed as a moderate booster of mass transit and urban development? Or will it be the conservative candidate of 2012, who moved to the Right to capture the Republican nomination and build relations with the conservatives who now run the General Assembly?

I’ve seen or heard some version of this “whither Pat?” theme at least a dozen times since Election Day. I’ve read it in newspapers, heard it on the radio, and seen it on television. I’ve been asked about it by several different news reporters preparing profile stories about McCrory.

I’ll tell you what I told them: This is a made-up issue. As far as I can determine, the reason some pundits think it’s valid is that they’ve read or seen other pundits claim it’s valid. I’m reminded of the phenomenon of self-perpetuating fame. Paris Hilton gained notoriety not so much for anything she had actually done of consequence but because of who she was. Essentially, she is famous for being famous. And the political split-personality of Pat McCrory is a newly established “fact” because people have claimed it to be, not because of any correspondence to real events.

During his longtime service as mayor of Charlotte, McCrory championed several ideas – a sales-tax increase to fund rail transit and government subsidies for downtown developments – that conservatives in the Queen City and beyond disliked. I was one of those. I still think they were bad ideas. But McCrory still believes they were good ideas. He’s actually quite proud of them. There’s no ideological shift here.

As for the issues McCrory championed during the gubernatorial election that are more popular among conservatives – such as pro-growth tax reform, voter ID requirements, and reforming the state’s regulatory system – I can’t think of a single instance in which he changed a prior, moderate position in order to “move to the Right.” I’ve known McCrory since the early 1990s. I’ve invited him to make speeches or appear on several panels hosted by the John Locke Foundation. He has consistently argued that state government is too big, that state tax rates are too high, that cumbersome state regulations inhibit economic growth, and that education reform should focus on high standards for students and teachers. And as far as I know, he’s never opposed voter ID requirements.

To suggest that all Republicans or all conservatives agree on all things is to reveal oneself as either unfamiliar with or contemptuous of Republicans and conservatives. Either condition is sufficient to weaken the credibility of those who purport to analyze conservative ideas or internal Republican politics. For example, McCrory is hardly the only political conservative who thinks mass transit is a wise and proper use of tax dollars. Paul Weyrich, a longtime activist and former Capitol Hill staffer who co-founded the Heritage Foundation, was a prominent mass transit booster for decades. I didn’t agree with him. But I never doubted that his espousal of other conservative positions was anything other than genuine.

McCrory is what he appears to be – a politician experienced in city government who is now moving into a field, state government, with different responsibilities and challenges. His touchstones are reformist Republican governors such as Mitch Daniels (Indiana), Jeb Bush (Florida), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), Bob McDonnell (Virginia), and Chris Christie (New Jersey). These individuals don’t agree on everything. But they are all properly called conservatives when it comes to the main issues facing state governors.

The burden of proof ought to be on those making the “split-personality” claim about Pat McCrory to cite at least one concrete example of the phenomenon. Show me a case where he has shifted his position on any issue of consequence, and you might actually have an argument. Right now, it’s just a rhetorical twitch.

Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation and author of Our Best Foot Forward: An Investment Plan for North Carolina’s Economic Recovery.



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Hood willfully ignores McCrory's flip-flops

Hood's willful blindness is laughable.

For starters, how about the biggest issue in state politics for the past 2 weeks -- the Dix property?

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