LET THEM EAT COOKIES: NC Gov. Hand-Delivers Cookies To Protesters,Then Signs Abortion Bill

In a move that might make cookies an act of political passive-aggressiveness, the governor doled out sexism, chocolate chips, and a side of condescension.. Image courtesy of Irene Godinez @ NewsObserver

In a move that might make cookies an act of political passive-aggressiveness, the governor doled out sexism, chocolate chips, and a side of condescension.. Image courtesy of Irene Godinez @ NewsObserver

Apparently GOP Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina has been taking history lessons – or, perhaps, culinary lessons – from the 18th century French. Just as myth has it that Queen Marie Antoinette sniffed “Let them eat cake!” when told of the peasants’ lack of bread during the famine of 1789, North Carolina’s head of state seems to think political unrest can be best assuaged with an equally inappropriate confection. This time it’s chocolate chip cookies.

Animation  @ StraightDope

Animation @ StraightDope

In a move that might make cookies – perhaps for the first time in American history – an act of political condescension, the governor stepped outside of the palace – I mean, the governor’s mansion – phalanxed by four security guards, and approached the crowd of 17 or so women gathered in a peaceful but passionate protest against the state’s push for more draconian abortion restrictions. The women, dressed in 60s garb as a statement against the regressive nature of the legislation, were stunned to see the governor personally approach them… to talk, perhaps? Naw. He was out there to give the little ladies a little refreshment… you know how tired those gals can get.

From the Charlotte Observer:

Before stepping onto common ground with the protesters – he went as far as the middle of the street between his mansion and the vigil – McCrory pointed directly at Jamie Sohn, a Chapel Hill resident.

“I was like, ‘Me?’ and he nodded,” she said during an interview shortly after.

The security guards stopped incoming traffic. Sohn walked out into the street to meet McCrory.

Sohn said McCrory told her: “ ‘These are for you. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.’ ” He handed her the plate of cookies, and waved as he walked away. She said she was too stunned to say anything back.

Stunned for so many reasons, not the least of which is that the governor has been unwilling to take the time to actually meet with the protesters to discuss their concerns. Apparently procuring and hand-delivering cookies is viewed as a worthy substitute for mature, productive dialogue.

What also struck a sour note was the “pat them on the head” patriarchal sexism inherent in the gesture. We’ve got a topic that’s deeply personal and profoundly affecting to women – the right to choose (which, last time we checked, was still protected by the Constitution) – being protested by a group composed largely of women, and somehow the male governor thinks it’s appropriate to pass off “blessings” and a plate of cookies like they were all gathered there for the monthly house and garden club. Not surprising that the crowd chanted in response:

 “Hey Pat, that was rude. You wouldn’t give cookies to a dude.”

McCrory, does, in fact, seem flummoxed in general by the pushback coming from all quarters of his state against the checklist of rigid conservative legislation he and his GOP cronies are ramrodding into law. Beyond abortion, there are bills related to voter suppression, food stamps, unemployment, guns, state religion, racial justice and so on. Big ticket GOP items. And in a state that is generally considered red (it is the south, after all), McCrory has had to deal with well-organized, highly publicized and growing resistance in the form of the wildly popular “Moral Monday” protests. Organized by the NAACP and various other progressive groups, Moral Monday is a weekly show of civil disobedience designed to bring attention – and, hopefully, productive debate – to the effort to stop the sweeping GOP agenda from decimating laws and programs in place to help average citizens, including minorities, those in need, and, in the case of abortion laws, North Carolina women who choose make their own decisions about their own healthcare. The Moral Monday protests are getting so noisy and nationally publicized (total arrests are now up to almost 1000) that McCrory’s dismissal of them is starting to look much like that deluded, detached queen Marie of yore. But a plate of cookies?

Despite the 12-hour vigil the protesters waged outside the gates of the governor’s mansion, McCrory signed the abortion bill on Monday night, claiming the protesters and others are exaggerating its restrictive elements. From the Washington Post:

In a statement, McCrory said critics were exaggerating the impact of the law, which will make abortion clinics adopt some of the regulations that apply to ambulatory surgery centers, require pregnant women to take an initial dose of abortion medication under a doctor’s supervision in a clinic, allows health-care providers to opt out of performing abortions if they object. eliminates abortion insurance coverage for city and county employees and bars state residents from paying for the coverage through state health exchange plans. [… ]

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards issued a statement Monday night calling it “appalling that Governor McCrory would go back on his campaign promise and sign into law legislation that is on the wrong side of public opinion and dangerous for women’s health.” [… ]

“While today is a sad day for the people of North Carolina and beyond, the fight is not over,” she added. “The record number of sneak attacks on women’s health in North Carolina, Texas and beyond has created a whole new generation of activists who are ready to hold their elected officials accountable.”

And the reaction to the cookies? Social media was swift:
On Twitter, #letthemeatcookies began to appear in tweets discussing the event. Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Central North Carolina wrote, “We want healthcare, not cookies,” in one tweet. [Source]
As for the women who were the actual recipients of the governor’s cookie klatch… they left the plate of untouched cookies at the gate with a note that read:
“Governor McCory, Will take women’s health over cookies!”
Apparently he didn’t get that message.
Image courtesy of Corey Lowenstein  @ News Observer

Image courtesy of Corey Lowenstein @ News Observer