I wasn’t going to write anything more about Pat McCrory.
I’d been thinking about it. Here was the most center-stage player in my life of radio and punditry in Charlotte – South Carolina’s Mystery Man Senate nominee Alvin Greene and screw-loose congressional candidate Tim D’Annunzio notwithstanding – having been shown the door by voters and slipping out over New Year’s weekend. So many memories.
Pat McCrory was my first guest my first day on WBT in June 2002. He was mayor, I was the new guy, and somebody – not me – had gotten the idea he should welcome me to town.
This he did masterfully, glowing about the World Class City Charlotte was turning into with an arena to be built to bring the NBA back and light rail trains a-coming. He was friendly, funny, and effusive about the city. Things changed quickly.
It started over the arena. He didn’t like anyone reminding voters they had already turned down an arena project. Then there were the trains. He didn’t like people pointing out the projection of $750 million for five rail lines was ballooning to billions; to nearly $500 million for the first one, the Blue Line, alone. He hated that I called it The McCrory Line.
About this time he got his own WBT weekend show, which he used to push back at people he thought were poking him too hard. It was called, “The Rest of the Story with Pat McCrory.” I was his first guest.
Things came to a head when a group of citizens tried to repeal the transit tax. McCrory literally laughed at the uprising but stormed out of the studio. That was 2007. He never returned while I was on the air.
I didn’t see him again until shortly after he was elected governor. It was at his dedication of a historic marker uptown where WBT and WBTV had long lived. He was friendly, funny, and effusive about music and concerts. We yapped until aides yanked him away. When McCrory toured Waxhaw, the mayor asked me to join the welcoming entourage. We spent most of the tour together, me introducing McCrory to friends and business people along Main Street.
So, I’d been thinking about writing about Pat McCrory, a piece wondering whether he is the most affable – or – the thinnest-skinned politician, I’ve known. But I thought, why? He had to concede, he’s slipping out the back door while Roy Cooper is sworn in, I’m going to let him alone.
Then I saw his farewell video.
He was whining about the media two minutes in. “You don’t read about this on the front page of the Raleigh or Charlotte newspaper, these accomplishments,” he said, referring to budget-balancing moves. Before the three-and-a-half minute mark McCrory was crying that the media didn’t give him enough credit for helping teachers. Eventually came the Big One that you knew had to.
He was asked, looking back, if he’d have done anything differently. He laid the passive-aggressive “Poor Pat” on thick.
“I wish,” he lamented wistfully, “with this manufactured crisis that occurred in Charlotte regarding a social issue that none of us had heard of, I wish I would have been successful in convincing Charlotte not to start this ... and I was unsuccessful ... in convincing the legislature maybe not to overreact.”
The most affable – and – thinnest-skinned politician I’ve known.
That is the Rest of the Story on Pat McCrory.
Observer contributor Keith Larson can be heard live Monday-Friday at 9-11 a.m. on TheLarsonPage.com