Christensen misses the mark on Art Pope

Buying in to the narrative:

But for McCrory, a rookie governor with little Raleigh experience, having Pope at his side during the early months of his administration has been an asset. McCrory can shoot hoops with the boys on Jones Streets. But Pope can throw some elbows.

While Rob does give a nod to the power Pope wields over the Legislature due to his fundraising/camapign contributions, he still casts him in a servile role, helping McCrory achieve his agenda. Not only does this go against human nature (power is not subservient), it also exposes one of the drawbacks of reporting on politics for too long: seeing patterns that may not exist:

There is some precedent for Pope’s role. When Democrat Jim Hunt was first elected governor in 1976, he was only 39, and had to deal with some old Democratic legislative bulls who thought they knew far more about how to run things in Raleigh.

Hunt relied on John A. Williams, a wealthy Raleigh businessman who was his budget director, to help shepherd his legislative program. Hunt was Mr. Positive. “John A.” was the muscle.

This kind of thing is bread and butter to political reporters. It's safe (focusing on a perceived pattern instead of a person), it gives the reporter an opportunity to remind everybody how knowledgeable and experienced he or she is, and the "both parties do it" aspect is a (constant) reminder that the reporter is non-partisan and objective.

And it's lazy, presumptuous, and misinformative. I know that's not going to win me any friends in the Capitol Press Corps, and it won't please a lot of people who treat politics like a favorite sport, with all the statistics and trivia that make for good dinner party conversation. But this ain't a game, as the tens of thousands of suffering families would tell you. If they had a voice, that is.

The lack of information continues:

Many will also disagree with Pope’s vision of limited government. North Carolina has traditionally been led by a progressive business community, while Pope’s political philosophy seems more libertarian in its leanings. But Pope does seem to have a healthy appreciation for the role of the state university system in the state’s economic development.

Ah, but not a word about Pope's attempts (and successes) to gain a foothold in various institutions of higher learning, either to artificially enhance the credibility of free market principles or combat multiculturalism by waving the pom-poms of Western Civilization. Of course, those things don't fit the narrative, so...

Comments

Honestly, I don't know

Honestly, I don't know anything about Rob, but it is not inconceivable that if he doesn't right puff pieces like this, he might lose his place at the table.

It is very heartening to me that the N@O has gotten more aggressive against the foolishness and mendacity of the R's in its editorials. They still give way too much free print to the various Pope organs, but they seem to have rediscovered their liberal impulses.

He is knowledgeable and experienced

Much moreso than I am, I'll freely admit. But that doesn't mean he isn't prone to shaping a narrative for one reason or another. As to this:

he might lose his place at the table.

I have a feeling that's why he shapes the narrative in such a fashion. Gaining access to elected officials and inside information is not easy, and the way you write your stories can affect your future access. I understand that. But if you're not going to properly inform your readership, after a while, those puff pieces start looking like "good career moves", as opposed to working towards greater (overall) exposure and transparency.

Soporific press, somnolent public

You're right, it's disturbing to see the Raleigh press reporting as if the role of money in politics today were no different from the past. Art Pope is no more a typical NC business leader than Sheldon Adelson is a typical casino magnate.

These wealthy individuals nowadays aren't just civic-minded individuals whose talents ran more to businens than politics, doing their best to contribute wherever they can. I believe that type has existed in the past, and still exists in many places.

But Pope, Adelson, and the Kochs are a very unusual phenomenon. Serious reporting needs to ask in detail, what might make our time different from other times.

Pope is somewhat of an enigma

Yeah, he has a vested interest in perpetuating poverty, so he can keep his cheap discount crap flashing across the cash registers. But I also think he's a true believer, too. That an Ayn Rand-ian future is not only workable but somehow fair and just, and will (eventually) cure most of society's problems.

It's that second thing that makes him dangerous, as far as I'm concerned. If he was just a garden-variety greedy businessman, there are limits to what changes he'd prefer to see. You screw around too much, and you can upset the consumer-based economic apple cart. But someone who really believes all that free-market hokum would try to make massive, radical changes, if he had half a chance. And that scares the crap out of me.

Retro to pre-Roosevelt days

The GOP is moving USA to its status pre-Roosevelt, and that's Theodore Roosevelt, not FDR. Same unlimited gains by large corporations and limited government programs to serve the needy. I agree that Art Pope is one of the true believers, but there are many others like him. Pragmatism has taken a big hit in recent decades.

Martha Brock

Lest we forget

Let us not forget that the Easley & Perdue administrations paved the way for Pope & McCrory. Had Easley & Perdue not stumbled Rob would have had a different subject for his column. Pope obviously has much influence which the previous two administrations have aided.

There is a huge difference in degrees here ...

Pope has influence because he is rich, is smart about how he spends his money and he is not afraid to play dirty. Any tailwind he might have picked up from Dem. errors is several order of magnitudes less than the political hurricane his money generated.

Unforced errors

Of course we can never know but I think the political winds dictated that McCrory was going to win irregardless. I personally believe the electorate was so disheartened with Mike and Bev that McCrory would have won even if Pope had come out in support of Walter. Pope's money generated much support but let's not forget that there is plenty of money floating around in political races. I think in this case much of the money on the left decided it was a bad investment as the race was pretty much over before it got started.