ELLIOT: Coopers scorched-state politics: destroying North Carolina to save it

For months, it has been well known that North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic nominee for governor, has encouraged job loss in North Carolina by pressuring companies not to expand in the state based on House Bill 2. The evidence, including a Wall Street Journal article, was strong but limited — one phone call to one company, a call that cost North Carolina 250 jobs from Deutsche Bank AG.But now, thanks to the WikiLeaks release of more than 19,000 internal emails of the Democratic National Committee, we now know that the activity was even more orchestrated than we thought.When events were cancelled in response to the law, Democratic officials — externally — were somber, admitting that “North Carolinians who work in the hospitality industry are going to be hurt” by the cancellations. But in secret — in reality — they were cheering. Anything for a political edge, evidently, no matter how many it hurts.Andy Crystal, the DNC staffer who apparently wrote that an event cancellation was “awesome,” lives in Washington and is a member of the New York bar. And media relations staffer T.J. Helmstetter, in an email about another cancelled event, apparently wrote “this is great.” (It is unclear whether he was referring to the cancellation itself or the wording of a DNC news release on the bad news.) Helmstetter too has a D.C./New York background.Let me be clear: I’m not pointing out the staffers’ big-city backgrounds as a case of “outside agitators” stirring things up in our state, however true that might be. My point is that Crystal and Helmstetter get to sit in D.C. and play politics when real people’s livelihoods are at stake. They don’t have to look North Carolinians who lost their shifts in the eye. Do they understand that these were real people with real rent to make and real groceries to buy? Not so “awesome” for those folks.The petty schadenfreude of the DNC staff is alarmingly callous, but it pales compared to Roy Cooper’s acts of economic sabotage against his home state. Before we get to his real M.O. as an inside instigator, first consider how Cooper handled a question at the first gubernatorial debate in June. Cooper was asked what he would advise a hypothetical son or daughter who wanted to teach in North Carolina.”I’d tell them to teach right here in North Carolina because hold on, I’m coming,” Cooper said to laughs and applause from the audience.It was a great answer to a tricky question. Cooper was able to paint teacher compensation as lackluster while anointing himself as the certain savior of the situation.But as we now know, Cooper’s answer was pure political talking point. While he was telling voters in public that he wouldn’t dare hurt the state by urging a good teacher to go elsewhere, he and his political allies were doing much worse in secret.North Carolinians could rightly shake their heads and lament “politics as usual” about the DNC emails. But for Roy Cooper, it is Bên Tre.Bên Tre was the Vietnamese village that was levelled to flush out the Viet Cong. Journalist Peter Arnett quoted an Army officer as saying “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”Even the ultra-left Independent Weekly has taken the stance of “don’t hurt us to help us.” But for Cooper, this state must be destroyed in order to be saved.Fortunately for North Carolina, Cooper’s scorched-state politics aren’t working very well. North Carolina’s unemployment rate stands at 4.9 percent, down from 5.5 percent when H.B. 2 was passed. That marks the first time since September 2007 that the rate has been below 5 percent.It seems that not many companies are willing to take a stand in order to help Cooper get his next job. We can be thankful that even though Cooper is willing to lob shells at his fellow North Carolinians, most of them have turned out to be duds.