Gov. Pat McCrory has a lot of nerve praising former N.C. Gov. Jim Holshouser, who died Monday at age 78.
Holshouser came into office on Richard Nixon's coattails in 1972, becoming the first GOP governor in North Carolina since Reconstruction. He quickly gained a reputation as a governor who worked well with the legislature, a genuine moderate - you know, like McCrory was supposed to be - who enthusiastically supported several programs that today's version of the GOP would condemn as "socialism" or worse.
Holshouser established rural health centers, which previous Democratic governors had talked about for years without following through. He was opposed to the death penalty for religious reasons. He was a huge supporter of public education, pouring state money into the university system, starting public kindergartens in the state, raising teacher pay from 48th in the nation to 27th. He gave African Americans and women important jobs in his administration. He also got the Coastal Area Management Act going, which led to stricter enforcement of environmental laws for the state's vulnerable coastline. All these actions by Holshouser were praised in McCrory's tribute to the former governor yesterday. And don't forget that Holshouser's progressive actions happened during the years when Nixon was cranking up the Environmental Protection Agency and launching other environmental programs. How time and circumstance have changed Holshouser's and Nixon's party.
Holshouser left the governor's office in early 1977, and he eventually became an early supporter of McCrory's career. He valued the young Charlotte politician's willingness to work with both parties to build consensus for action on major issues. Once McCrory became governor, the state GOP had moved to the right of Genghis Khan and was intent on running roughshod over any progressive ideas or programs instituted in the past 55 years. McCrory, rather than live up to his supposedly moderate reputation, essentially handed state government over to a radical legislative body that has undermined the very types of programs Holshouser, as well as subsequent Republican N.C. Gov. Jim Martin, supported. As a result of McCrory's acquiescence to whatever his party's fire-breathers want, education funding is being cut; the Coastal Commission is being told to ignore scientific facts about rising sea levels; ugly-ass and environmentally harmful groins will soon be back in style on N.C. beaches; health care access for the poor is on the chopping block; and African-Americans' voting rights are being suppressed via the voter ID law.
You can't have it both ways, GuvPat. You can't talk up how much Jim Holshouser, the quintessential North Carolina Republican moderate, meant to you and how many good things he did, while simultaneously helping dismantle the type of gradual, considered progress your former mentor fought for. Why not, you may ask. Well, Pat, it's called hypocrisy. Look it up some time.