Pat McCrory was supposed to have another job by now. After voters tossed the former Republican North Carolina governor out of office—thanks in large part to HB2, the deeply unpopular anti-LGBTQ bill he championed—McCrory groveled at Trump Tower, clearly expecting a consolation prize from the new president. But here we are in mid-March, and Donald Trump, who famously dislikes losers, has yet to offer him a role in the new administration.
Bereft of employment, McCrory has slid into the role of professional victim, blaming his humiliating downfall on LGBTQ advocates, corporations, protesters, nonprofits, athletic leagues, transgender children, “silent” conservatives, and pretty much everyone but himself. Recently, he took his tearful tirade to the podcast Listening In, whining to host Warren Cole Smith, who is best known for declaring that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism made him unfit for public office. The interview provides a fascinating glimpse into McCrory’s troubled mind, revealing that he veers between extreme paranoia and rather piteous delusions of grandeur. Here are some highlights from McCrory and Smith’s 20-minute conversation.
1. McCrory says he can’t get a job because of HB2.
The Human Rights Campaign led the public opposition to HB2, criticizing the bill for barring transgender people from certain public bathrooms. In his interview, McCrory repeatedly blamed the HRC for his defeat, asserting that the group is “more powerful than NRA.”
“I said that nine months ago and everyone laughed,” McCrory confided in Smith, “and now everyone’s going, ‘you know, maybe they are,’ because they put their pressure on corporations. The NRA puts pressure on politicians. The HRC puts public pressure, threatened boycotts on major corporations through the U.S. with a false narrative, and it worked.”
(For the record, the NRA also “puts pressure” on corporations, boycotting any gun manufacturers that agree to make firearms safer.)
“Even after I left office,” McCrory continued, “people are reluctant to hire me because, ‘oh my gosh, he’s a bigot,’ which is the last thing I am. I’m actually in some ways rather liberal on some of these issues. I’m a libertarian on many of these issues. But I don’t think a city government or state government or federal government should be able to tell the private sector what the new definition of gender is.”
Smith later asked McCrory to elaborate on this allegation, but McCrory would not specify who had refused to hire him or in what context. Indeed, when pressed on this claim, McCrory seemed to walk it back, then changed the subject.
2. McCrory thinks transgender rights are “Orwellian” and enforced by “thought police.”
“It’s almost Orwellian,” McCrory told Smith, “that if you disagree with the thought police, the politically correct thought police on this new definition of gender, you’re a bigot, you’re the worst of evil. It’s almost as though I broke a law!”
(A federal judge has found that McCrory’s HB2 did literally break the law.)
“As you know,” McCrory said, “during my tenure in … government, one thing you never questioned was my ethics. Or my values. And I do what I think is right. And yet these new thought police now are saying just the opposite. And it’s a bad part of our nation going on right now. You see the same techniques being used against Trump right now.”
Actually, McCrory’s governorship was plagued with ethics scandals. Most notoriously, McCrory’s administration appeared to dole out favors to Duke Energy, where the governor worked for 29 years. In June 2015, two weeks after the company agreed to pay a $102 million fine for illegally dumping tons of coal ash into the Dan River, McCrory had dinner with its CEO at the governor’s mansion. And just four days after that meeting, his administration granted the company new permits for coal ash storage. Then, in July 2016, McCrory signed a law—late on a Friday afternoon—allowing Duke Energy to leave the toxic coal ash in place for an extended period of time.
Incidentally, McCrory also failed to disclose his ownership of Duke Energy stock while in office. He claimed that the disclosure form was too confusing.
3. McCrory does not understand gender—or transgender people.
According to McCrory, LGBTQ activists have an “agenda—and that is changing the definition of gender.”
“Instead of having doctors determine the definition of gender,” he told Smith, “they actually want politicians to determine the definition of gender. … On the issue of gender, I think it’s a well-established definition: It’s the doctor who determines the gender of a baby. You ask the doctor, is it a boy or a girl. You don’t ask the baby! Should we have fifth-graders decide what gender they are? I just think it’s common sense. I’m a pragmatic conservative. Now I’m called an extremist and a radical. This is part of their agenda.”
The twistifications and contradictions of this statement are really quite incredible. Here is Pat McCrory—a man who signed a bill that defined gender as the “biological sex” recorded on a birth certificate—proclaiming that “politicians” should not “determine the definition of gender.” The entire purpose of HB2 was to determine the definition of gender! That was its explicit intent! HB2 literally codified Republican politicians’ cramped understanding of gender into law!
Does McCrory simply not know what HB2 did? Has he read it? Has he read a summary of it? It is breathtaking to hear him disparage politicians defining gender when he, Pat McCrory, is indisputably the person most closely associated with politicians defining gender. And how, after nearly a year of litigation over the bill, does he still not comprehend gender identity? What would he recommend doctors do to children who identify with a gender other than the one listed on their birth certificate? Subject them to conversion therapy? How would he recommend doctors classify children born intersex? McCrory says gender is just “common sense.” If that’s true, he should be able to answer these questions easily.
4. McCrory believes he has a secret, silent fan base—and vicious, violent enemies.
“I get all these people coming up to me,” McCrory said, “and going, ‘Hey, governor, I agree with you on this issue, we’re behind you.’ They were whispering. And this is one fault I have of the silent majority: The silent majority’s too silent! And they let the loud minority actually speak and win the election. So I’m starting to wonder—maybe the silent majority’s no longer the majority anymore.”
Why are McCrory’s supporters so silent? In short, they need a safe space.
“People are reluctant,” McCrory explained, “to say, ‘you know what, I want to stick with original definition of how we define boys and girls and men and women, and I think men ought to use men’s locker rooms and showers.’ People are reluctant to say it for fear of backlash, for fear of being called a bigot.”
To make matters worse, “the left wing is more intolerant than the right wing,” and the “intolerant left” assaults those who disagree with them.
“I mean, I got attacked on the streets of Washington, D.C., during the inauguration,” McCrory told Smith, “where someone went, ‘There’s Pat McCrory, let’s get him!’ And I’m sitting there without security, going, is this really happening? And it’s over this issue! And I was chased several blocks down an alley and I was in fear of my safety.”
You can watch a video of this “attack,” during which protesters slowly walk behind an awkwardly smiling McCrory while shouting “shame,” at the News Observer.
5. McCrory hates corporations and loves Trump.
Over and over again, McCrory blasted corporations for using their free speech rights to oppose HB2. He believes these companies vilified and victimized him, declaring that they should have stayed neutral and declined to support transgender employees who were targeted by the bill. But, he said proudly, “I’m having the courage to call them out on [their] selective hypocrisy.”
McCrory reserved his warmest words for Trump. After noting sadly that “a certain percentage of Trump voters skipped over us” in November, he told Smith that “there wasn’t even a hesitation for me to support him over Hillary Clinton. … I got to know him very well on the campaign trail … and I grew to like him. We had phone conversations, talked one-on-one—I went up to Trump Tower and talked to him. I think he’s a breath of fresh air in many areas.”
But, McCrory warned, the “intolerant left” is already persecuting the Trump administration and its supporters. “People are reluctant to say they’re for Trump,” McCrory said, because they’re afraid of being called bigots.
At the end of Smith and McCrory’s conversation—which took place in an Orlando hotel room—McCrory declined to rule out another run for the North Carolina governorship in 2020. Until then, it seems he will be waiting for a phone call from the president that, with each passing day, seems less and less likely to arrive.