North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory continues to tie himself in knots trying to explain the indefensible House Bill 2, North Carolina's notorious bathroom law.
Here are four whoppers he's been telling:
1) That the city of Charlotte and now the Federal government, have engaged in unprecedented "overreach." Clearly, Governor McCrory did not take a psychology class while in college. Had he, he would have been introduced to the concept of "projection," whereby humans project their own sins onto others as a way of deflecting their own guilt. The City of Charlotte passed a law, scheduled to take effect April 1, that would have mandated that public bathrooms allow for people to use the facility corresponding with their preferred gender identity.
In response, the Republican dominated state legislature raced back into special session and, twelve hours later, rammed through a sweeping law that the governor quickly signed. Its key provisions:
a) mandate that bathroom use in all public accommodations be restricted to gender identity as assigned at birth.
b) eliminate all existing local and municipal discrimination protections based on sexuality
c) bar local and municipal governments from passing their own minimum wage laws
d) prevent all individuals from bringing suit in state courts for any employment discrimination claims, not limited to those based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
See the overreach?
The federal government's alleged overreach has consisted in, among other things, only giving the state of North Carolina three business days to respond to the Department of Justice's notice last week that HB2 was in violation of federal civil rights laws. In other words, Governor McCrory is now whining about an affront to due deliberation, notwithstanding that the law he signed came at the end of a hastily called 12-hour special session that blocked any testimony or input from opponents of the bill.
Rash, overreaching, an affront to ordinary democratic processes - the content of HB2 and the manner of its passage hit the trifecta. So, naturally, McCrory is flailing about trying to accuse others of same.
2) Recently, McCrory told Megyn Kelly that it was the left, not the right, that started the controversial discussion over bathrooms. It's a line he's repeated endlessly. In an interview yesterday with Chris Wallace, Wallace pressed the governor to cite a single solitary instance of a transgender individual using the cover of their identity to molest someone in a bathroom. McCrory demurred. Instead, he whined about how it was the city of Charlotte and "liberals" who started this bathroom fight. But if McCrory now accepts the incontrovertible fact that there are no safety issues at stake in bathroom laws like the one passed by Charlotte, then there is no reason to pass a law to overturn it. This was the point Wallace kept making. And McCrory kept pushing this very same, utterly irrelevant talking point in response.
3) On a related note, McCrory is now desperately trying to test-market the least damaging messaging. Unfortunately, his own previous statements and his putative political allies are not cooperating. In her interview with the governor, Kelly tried to get him to explain how, in women's restrooms, there was a threat to girls or women, when there are only single-use stalls, when most sexual predators are heterosexual men and when a law like this would not address the real threat of gender-based violence in any way. McCrory said he agreed with Kelly and insisted that he never claimed that the law was about safety - that this was a concoction of the left and of "some" on the right. Instead McCrory said, the law was only meant to protect common sense notions of privacy for both males and females.
But a look back at McCrory's public statements on HB2 exposes as a lie his new claim that he has not invoked safety concerns as a rationale for signing the bill.
First, McCrory has repeatedly used the example of men sneaking into girls' bathrooms. He essentially never cites the prospect of girls or women going into male bathrooms. That's because the supposedly gender-neutral privacy argument he tried to slip by Kelly is bullshit.
Furthermore, on McCrory's single highest profile national media appearance, on Sunday's Meet the Press with Chuck Todd on April 17, the governor responded to Todd's criticisms of the law with an anecdote. It's one that many people don't believe really happened. But it's most revealing. McCrory told what he clearly intended as a heartwarming tale of having walked into an "African American buffet restaurant" in Hamlet, North Carolina and having people walk up to him and thank him "for protecting us." Given McCrory's later fabrication - that the law is not about fear, or protection from threats, one has to wonder: what were those folks thanking him for protecting them from?
McCrory's twitter feed is also chock full of approving references to those who support the governor's efforts at "protecting women and children in public restrooms."
Additionally, as intense criticisms began pouring in upon passage of the law, McCrory's office issued a "myths and facts" sheet trying to debunk all of the "dishonest" things that were being said about HB2.
Here's part of that statement:
Why did North Carolina pass this law in the first place?
Answer: The bill was passed after the Charlotte City Council voted to impose a regulation requiring businesses to allow a man into a women's restroom, shower, or locker room if they choose. This ordinance would have eliminated the basic expectations of privacy people have when using the rest room by allowing people to use the restroom of their choice. This new local regulation brought up serious privacy concerns by parents, businesses and others across the state, as well as safety concerns that this new local rule could be used by people who would take advantage of this to do harm to others (my bold).
Finally, even if McCrory weren't being transparently insincere when he told Kelly he didn't like the fact that some on the right were using the fear card, has he called out a single one of those people by name? Has he any intention of doing so? Yes, those are rhetorical questions. Indeed, virtually every right-wing leader in the state has shamelessly played the fear card in defending HB2.
To provide one of countless examples, here's a statement from McCrory's own lieutenant governor Dan Forrest, in response to last week's DOJ notice:
"To use our children and their educational futures as pawns to advance an agenda that will ultimately open those same children up to exploitation at the hands of sexual predators is by far, the sickest example of the depths the Obama Administration will stoop to 'fundamentally transform our nation.'"
In short, the governor, his office and his allies have repeatedly defended the law by invoking non-existent threats from predators who would take advantage of bathroom provisions like the one passed by Charlotte. Given this fact, and the tremendous damage and he's already inflicted on a marginalized and vulnerable group of people, it is particularly disgraceful for the governor now to try to deny that he himself has slithered his way through such fevered swamps.
4) Lastly, already evident in the above: the governor has endlessly attacked his opponents for trying to "politicize" this issue. This absurd statement is a particularly classic case of projection - the purpose of the bill was, of course, precisely to politicize contempt for a marginalized group and to engender the kind of fear that, its supporters hoped, would motivate like-minded partisans to come to the polls in November. Such motives were particularly obvious in the case of McCrory, an unpopular governor facing a closely contested re-election campaign.
Politics alone - and of the worst sort imaginable - motivated McCrory's signing of the bill.
McCrory's feckless attempts to blame anyone but himself for the awful position in which he's put the state of North Carolina don't change that fact.
Divorce: A Love Story, my co-authored memoir with my ex-wife, about our divorce, is available here.