After weeks of staunchly defending HB2 and slamming opponents as a “politically correct” mob of perverts, left-wingers, their allies in the media and their corporate lackeys, Governor McCrory rose from his sickbed – at least, via video and one careful interview – to waffle, wiggle and waver.
As one wit said of McCrory’s executive order, “This is what happens when you sign a bill before you read it.”
It’s also what happens when you overreach.
Why did McCrory back down? Look no farther than WRAL’s poll. Voters statewide oppose HB2 by 50-38. And Roy Cooper now leads McCrory 47-43. And Cooper’s approval rating has gone up double-digits in the last month.
Most striking, the poll found that more than two-thirds of voters say a politician’s position on the bill will either “strongly” or “somewhat” influence their votes.
That’s a reflection of the wall-to-wall, 24-7 attention the bill has received since it was enacted. (That damn left-wing media!) That’s not likely to end soon, given the daily fallout over economic losses and given that the legislature returns in two weeks. Either to adopt McCrory’s fix or ignore him.
Now McCrory is struggling to make a nuanced argument on a simple, emotional issue, one that the Republicans created themselves.
The WRAL poll suggests that, if the bill had stuck to transgender people and which bathrooms they use, it would have support. Instead, HB2 went too far and wrote discrimination into law.
Most North Carolinians, to their credit, don’t like that.
The furor is likely to settle down before November. Other events surely will intrude.
But this comes at a critical time. Voters are just beginning to look at the candidates for Governor. Cooper is just now walking onto the public stage as the alternative to McCrory.
HB2 enables Cooper to look strong, courageous and principled, while McCrory looks weak, clueless or intolerant. Or all the above.
Once again, an iron law of politics applies: The worst wounds are self-inflicted.