The Great State of North Carolina™

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Office of the Governor
McCrory on Monday night

Gov. Pat’s first State of the State address, unlike his first few weeks in office, offered few surprises or specific policy prescriptions. It was the same stuff we heard on the campaign trail: Pro-growth policies, overhaul of an outdated tax system, education reform, more frugality and efficiency in state services. Hard for anyone to argue with; hard for anyone to get a firm grip on, either.

What struck me isn’t so much the meat of the speech but its casing. By now, we’re used to mayors, governors and presidents with business rather than governmental backgrounds echo the bromide that “government has to run like a business,” but I haven’t heard it expressed quite like McCrory did Monday night. You could practically hear the cash registers ringing.

He stressed “customer service” multiple times. He called for more efficiency and shorter wait time at DMV — a laudable goal, sure, but kind of small-bore, middle-management stuff for a State of the State. And early on, McCrory said something genuinely startling, so odd it was almost comical:

“We cannot live off of a brand that needs updating and major revamping to not only compete with our neighbors but to compete with the rest of the world.”

‘Scuse me, but did the new governor of the sovereign state of North Carolina just refer to said state as a “brand”?

I get it: corporate background, government has to be more efficient, we’re competing with neighboring states for jobs. (McCrory alluded to this when he mused that fellow governors Bob McDonnell, Nikki Haley and Bill Haslam are his partners on regional issues and competitors on economic ones.) Still, though, the notion that a state isn’t a state that has to resemble a corporate entity but a corporate entity itself?

I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but that seems to me like a new (and slightly alarming) thing. Welcome to North Carolina, may I take your order?

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest