Speaking of Wrenn (again)

Ok, some of you might be getting tired of me posting Wrenn's stuff here, but I think it's interesting and he came up with another that I think has bipartisan appeal. Granted, he seems to be promoting past speaker Robert Morgan's book, but I can't hold that against him. Morgan is actually far more interesting than newspaper headlines along might suggest.

This one I've edited because I didn't want to do that whatever it is to link to the link that this post actually starts off with. Carter posted a link from "BOSTON LEGAL" that shows Denny Crane getting mugged. He goes on to write:

Former House Speaker Richard Morgan’s book, The Fourth Witch: A Memoir of Politics and Sinning, has the same virtue as William Shatner’s video: Humor. No one gets shot by a gun-toting Boston lawyer but there are plenty of other good stories straight out of North Carolina politics.

He then excerpts a few, and for those of you who enjoy politics and political anecdotes, I strongly recommend you check it out ~


Politics and Sinning

Most times, when a fellow runs for office and you ask him, Why, he’ll take a deep breath and give you a high-sounding reason – like he’s going to stop the ice caps melting, save family values, or single-handedly end poverty.

But I can tell you – first hand – most politicians have earthier goals: Like greed, vanity or ambition.

A few years ago we elected a farmer to the United States Senate. When hog prices dropped he sponsored a bill to subsidize trade with the Russians – to sell them more hogs.

The biggest Bible thumper I served with in the House – a hard-shell fundamentalist who taught at The Gospel Light Christian School – took a fifty-thousand-dollar bribe to vote with the same Democrats who’d killed every bill he’d introduced to ban abortion.

Another legislator owned a multi-million dollar beer and wine distributorship and saw nothing wrong with serving on the House Committee that regulates alcohol.

Another legislator managed a successful architectural firm that received ten million dollars in unbid state contracts.

Once, when I was Speaker, leaving the House Chamber I came face to face with an old man, a county commissioner wearing khakis, a denim shirt and a thick-soled pair of boots.

I stopped, nodded and asked, ‘So, tell me, how did you get into politics?’

He scratched his head then grinned. ‘Well, that was simple – like most young people I was interested in sinning.’

‘You learn much?’

‘Probably not as much as you.’

He smacked his lips. ‘You know ole Jim Hunt?’

After Governor Hunt was elected the third time Republicans and Democrats in the House had a knock-down, drag-out fight over the budget and one spring night, dead set on breaking the deadlock, Hunt walked out of the Governor’s Mansion, trekked down the block to the condominium I shared with House Speaker Harold Brubaker and strolled through the door carrying a six-pack of hard full-sugar Pepsi under his arm.

A Republican couldn’t be too careful when dealing with Governor Hunt. One moment he’d be all charm and the next, as soon as you let your guard down, he’d pounce and before you could stop your lips from moving out of a spirit of comity and good will you’d agree to vote for a bill you hadn’t seen yourself supporting in a thousand years.

What stopped Hunt dead in his tracks that night was one of those new vibrating recliner chairs from Sharper Image my wife had given me after I won my first election. Hunt settled all the way back in that chair and it started to hum and he grinned, ‘Mighty fine,’ and any orneriness he felt flew right out the window.

We put steaks on the grill and passed the next three and a half hours without a harsh word as Hunt drank that whole six-pack of hard Pepsi.

Ten years later, looking back at the old county commissioner, I said carefully, ‘Yes sir. I knew Governor Hunt.’

‘That boy give you a hard time?’

I remembered the first morning Hunt called and woke me out of a sound sleep just after the crack of dawn to talk about a bill.

‘He tended to burn the midnight oil and forget normal folks sleep at night.’

He grunted. ‘That boy always did have a red-hot passion for politics.’

‘There I’d have to say you’re wrong.’

The ridges in the old man’s face hardened. ‘I reckon you figure you got a better explanation?’

‘I’d say the reason for that passion was pure sugar.’

posted @ Wednesday, October 29, 2008 10:22 AM by Carter Wrenn

He also posted a link for buying Morgan's book, but I ain't doin' that neither. (I'm sure as hell gonna look it up, though.)


Newcomers to NC might be interested

to know that Robert Morgan shared the speaker's gavel with Jim Hunt as a result of a deal worked out by the two of 'em and certain other party members.

This interesting mini-era is also remembered for the scandal that brought Michael Decker down. Decker is the Republican Morgan mentions who turned Democrat in exchange for a lotta cash and a favor for his son (a job). The purpose of his turning Democrat was to secure the speakership for Black. Decker, born again Christian who was born again "Democrat," was summarily kicked out of office by the voters he betrayed, so Black arranged a job for him at the Dept. of Cultural Resources. This was the prologue to other scandals that eventually landed Black in prison.

Richard Morgan

It was Richard Morgan. He is now running against June Atkinson for State Superintendant of Education.

And I believe it was Jim Black with whom Morgan shared co-speakership. :)

Democratic Corruption in NC

Does anyone have any particular books/publications/websites they could recommend for someone (me) wanting to learn more about this?


"Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war." - John McCain

There are a few out there

Christensen recently published one, Paul Luebke has also published one, and there's a third that I can't recall at the moment. I feel bad about recommending something I haven't read yet, but I have these three books about NC politics right there on the nightstand staring at me, waiting to be read.

Christensen's was pretty well reviewed, I think. Still, one of the best ways to keep up is still the political columns, such as Marc Binker's for Greensboro, Jack Betts for Charlotte and the Dome at N&O (which is mostly Ryan Teague Beckwith, but other staffers contribute).

I think Winston Salem has a new political columnist since O'Connor retired, but I am not sure what his name is and haven't check on that one.

OH, and despite the idiots who blog there (I'm afraid I must count myself among them but hereby note that "Huh" blogs there and he is not an idiot), Gary Pearce and Carter Wrenn are two of the best political observers and commentators around. www.talkingaboutpolitics.com.

Rep. Paul Luebke wrote a

Rep. Paul Luebke wrote a great book about NC politics. I think it is called Tar Heel Politics: Myths and Realities with an updated version, Tar Heel Politics 2000.

I'm a moderate Democrat.


ARGH! I knew that, Linda, but had a brain fade. and damn but that was a bad bad typo -- switching Hunt's name for Black's. I don't think of those two as being anything LIKE one another.

Ugh. ptooieee~ bad, bad, bad Brunette!!!!!


I'm sorry but Wrenn is using their email list for some jaded last minute attacks on Perdue. It's pretty sad. I though they were more sophisticated than that.

Richard Moore Morgan is fine to talk with sitting on a bale of hay on his farm in Moore County and I'd support him against Art Pope but he's a little too confused politically to be running for anything so soon after Jim Black.

You mean Richard Morgan

I got that email, but the blog sends those out periodically. There's certainly no question that Wrenn is anti-Perdue and that he's pro-Republican.

I don't think I've suggested that Wrenn is no longer Wrenn or that his commentary is interesting because his politics have changed. His commentary is interesting for the same reason Pearce's is, because it is insightful and intelligent. That is separate and apart from whether one agrees with either writer's points.

And that's the point I've tried to make on this blog by citing Wrenn. You don't have to subscribe to a writer's personal or political philosophy to appreciate whether he or she has valid insights or a logical thought process. In fact, I think we often learn more from people with whom we disagree than we do from those whose opinions mesh with our own.

I enjoy politics (most of the time), I care deeply about policy, platform and agenda, and I become as impassioned and emotionally invested as anyone else, but regard for reasoning is inseparable from that passion.

The media love to talk about the fact that Bush got elected because he seemed to be the kind of person one could enjoy having a beer with. I doubt I'd enjoy having a beer with Bush, jovial as he seems to be. I would rather spend the time with someone who can stimulate me mentally -- and that has nothing to do with political agreement. Sometimes what makes the conversation work is that you both care about politics and you respect the other person's ability to clearly and reasonably defend a position or observation -- whether or not you concur with the position.

Thus, for those who assume that because I cite to Carter Wrenn or refer to the fact that Richard Morgan is an interesting critter I am thereby implying political agreement with one or support for the campaign of the other, you've made an unwarranted inference.


The email looked like something old that he found while clearing out his inbox. The video is one of only two on the TAP YouTube site, both same production, both anti-Perdue.

Yes he's a smart guy, which is why it seems so lame. Could you possibly imagine that I can agree and disagree with you at the same time?

Can I possibly imagine? Oh you di'int ask that~

I think that's a fairly recent post, though. Every now and then one of these comes in via email, but they seem to alternate between Gary and Carter. The first time I got one I wrote them to say I didn't want 'em, but they come anyway.

Yes, I can "possibly imagine" that you can agree and disagree with me at the same time. I'm so imaginative, Greg, that I thought it possible that that that was understood.

I don't think I'm out of line for suggesting that there is a tendency, whether one is on a "liberal" or "conservative" blog, for people to have knee jerk reactions to the "other" side, whichever side that is.

We fall into the habit of demonizing the other side to the point that we lose interest in objectively assessing a given point. This is not an outlandish reaction during campaigns, when both sides are in battle-mode and a lot of what is posited for discussion is really just propaganda.

That's one reason I felt it necessary to explain what ought not have to be explained -- that just because I'm not damning or otherwise criticizing a Carter Wrenn or Richard Morgan doesn't mean I am endorsing their political philosophies.