But we can’t fret about that right now. Alabama has its own quandaries.
The state Legislature is, well, what can we say? Dysfynctional? An embarrassment? Dominated by a few demagogues and knuckle-dragging Neanderthals? (And we thought it was bad when Lt. Gov. Steve Windom found another use for a jug and Sen. Charles Bishop delivered a punch on the chamber floors.)
Roy Moore is on the ballot.
Luther Strange, the state attorney general, wants Alabama to opt out. Of everything.
Jefferson County, the state’s largest, has eloped with fiscal disarray.
The state’s first Republican Legislature since the invention of dirt has, in essence, allowed the Statehouse to be operated as it has for the last 130 or so years. (For evidence, review the transcripts of this week’s House and Senate debates.)
And there’s HB56, the state’s notorious illegal-immigration law.
Yet, we’re not in North Carolina’s shoes.
Thank the Lord.
It’s not that the Tar Heel state’s problems are necessarily worse than Alabama’s. Look around the Union and, quite frankly, it’s hard to find a state without a few loose screws. There’s a cottage industry that thrives on ranking states’ foibles, but that’s not what this is about.
North Carolina’s problem is that it can’t hide. Some states — especially middlin’ ones far from America’s media centers — can act like an unwed pregnant teen in the 1950s: They can retreat, silently, far from the glare of the national spotlight, until the storms blow over. (Alabama’s testing that principle with HB56; call it a failed attempt, for now.)
North Carolina is progressive for the South, a somewhat purple state in an increasingly polarized red-and-blue nation, though it isn’t Massachusetts or California or Ohio or Florida or New York. But it is a key Southern swing state — something Alabama is not — and will play host to the Democratic National Convention in September.
The president’s coming to town.
Like the final episode of MASH, the entire nation will watch.
Quick: Put everything away!
Lock the closet doors!
Maybe they won’t notice!
For perspective, consider this recent story from Bloomberg News:
“Obama Carolina convention plans going awry for Democrats.” In a nutshell, it said this is a dreadful time for the world’s focus to descend on Charlotte. Earlier this week, a Charlotte Observer columnist checked off the reasons why North Carolina’s timing is so out of whack: the state recently passed controversial Amendment 1, which banned same-sex marriage; the John Edwards trial won’t end; and state unemployment is well above that of other Southern states such as Mississippi.
In case you’re wondering, neither Obama nor the Democratic Party has any intention of finding an alternate site for its September shindig.
The convention is like an ugly Christmas-gift tie. Charlotte is stuck with it.
Don’t worry; Alabama couldn’t bid for it ’cause it barely has enough money to open its schoolhouse doors in the fall. Nevertheless, could you imagine if our state owned Carolina’s problem?
It’s fantasy — but think of the calamity. If Alabama were a swing state, if the Democratic Party was obsessed with winning Alabama’s electoral votes, and if Birmingham was the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention … Oh, my.
All those television cameras. All those reporters. All that attention — and, as we would rightly lament, all that attention not focused on our advances with educational initiatives, our successes with international industries, or our biblical ability to join hands and repair ourselves after April 27, 2011.
Instead, that attention would swarm like flies at a trash bin.
HB56: the law, the protests, the candlelight vigils, the “aborigines” comment by one of its authors.
The rejuvenated candidacy of Roy Moore, Mr. Ten Commandments.
The state Legislature, which in the last 24 months has been the home of federal indictments, FBI wiretaps, an historic Republican reworking and a disgraceful immigration bill that’s cementing the legacies of Sen. Scott Beason and Rep. Micky Hammon.
Oh, my, indeed.
There’s a part of me that wishes fantasy was reality — that Alabama, not North Carolina, was hosting the 2012 convention. It’s like college sports: if you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best. I’d like to think that the good of Alabama — of which there’s much — would bubble to the top.
So let’s cheer for Carolina. No one likes to see a friend fail.
Phillip Tutor — firstname.lastname@example.org — is The Star’s commentary editor. Follow him at Twitter.com/ptutor_star.