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McCrory’s cookies? One pat on head too many

By Fannie Flono
Associate Editor
Jack Betts
Fannie Flono writes on news, politics and life in The Carolinas. Her column appears on the Editorial pages of The Charlotte Observer.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory must like getting cussed out. Otherwise, he would have kept those #$% cookies for himself.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the guv was complaining that protesters were “cussing” him when he went “out in the crowd” and tried to talk to them. Of course, he had to backpedal and parse his words when he couldn’t provide any proof he’d been in the crowds trying to talk to them – let alone being cussed out by them.

But it’s not hard to imagine the expletives that might have swirled through the minds of the women gathered in protest in front of the governor’s mansion on Tuesday. Protesters of McCrory’s policies had tried for weeks to get him to talk to them about the issues, particularly about women’s health issues and his reneging on a campaign pledge not to support legislation further restricting access to abortions. They wanted to at least provide additional perspective on the matter.

Instead, McCrory snubbed them, signed the legislation on Monday, and on Tuesday, gave them – cookies.

Can we all say the word “clueless” together, please?

I’m going to give Gov. Pat the benefit of the doubt, and say he meant well. After all, he did say “God bless you” – three times no less – as he handed the chocolate chips to an admittedly stunned young woman whom he’d summoned to the middle of the street to receive them.

His bodyguards had stopped traffic as they escorted the governor for the exchange. Unfortunately, in another clueless moment, he and they left her there as traffic resumed. Protesters reportedly had to summon the guards back to escort the woman back across the street.

Whatever the governor’s intentions, someone – maybe a female on his staff – should have dissuaded him from the cookie exchange. While he was having an open-minded conversation with those protesters about their differences on these matters, refreshments would have been appropriate. But as a substitute for a discussion, the offer came off as demeaning, dismissive and disdainful.

It was also patronizing. It’s hard to believe the governor would have done the same thing for a group of men protesting. So that chant from the women: “Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn’t give cookies to a dude” had resonance.

Adding more insult, later that night a McCrory staff member delivered slices of cake to a young girl and her mother who were protesting outside the mansion with Occupy Raleigh members. “I was like, ‘Thank you very much, but it would be nice if we could have some rights with that,’ ” 12-year-old Madison Kimrey told reporters. McCrory didn’t know about the cake incident, his staff said. But Madison’s reaction was spot on, nonetheless: “I was like, ‘Why? You do realize this is just giving us more ammo against (the governor).’ I would rather sit down with (him) while we’re eating cookies.”

Duh. A 12-year-old gets the point but McCrory and his staff don’t?

The sad thing about these incidents is that they are part of a pattern of condescension and dismissal by this legislature and this governor. With lawmakers calling constituents who disagree with them “morons” and “crazies,” and shutting them down with declarations of “I am the senator, you are the citizen. You need to be quiet,” the denigration has been stark.

Lawmakers’ discourtesy toward N.C. women has felt particularly raw. Following the way legislators sneakily rolled out the abortion bill without public notice on the day before the July 4th holiday, with the Senate attaching the controversial changes to an unrelated Sharia law bill, and the House to an unrelated motorcycle safety bill, McCrory’s offer of cookies was just one pat on the head too many.

It’s too bad the governor couldn’t see that, or didn’t care to. The protesters wanted to be heard – and they deserved to be. They’ll get another chance at the polls.

Email: fflono@charlotteobserver.com.
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