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Sunday, February 14, 2010

PAWLENTY FOR PRESIDENT? A 2012 PRIMER

I've warned you about this guy before, Republican Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and now I'm warning you again. He is sneakily but continually maneuvering himself behind the scenes to obtain the Republican nomination for President in 2012. Like most Republicans, the guy is short-sighted and wholly self-serving. He is also as deceitful as Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, albeit smoother and less confrontational. But he is arrogant, sneaky, and untrustworthy, and a political chameleon as well. At various times of his choosing, he has portrayed himself as a moderate as well as a conservative. He molds himself to fit his needs of the moment. You'll be seeing a lot more of this guy over the next couple of years as he'll try to sneak his way into the White House. But believe me, my friends: you will NOT want him in the White House!

Below is a descriptive piece on Pawlenty which just appeared in the OpEd section of today's Minneapolis Star Tribune by staff writer Nick Coleman. It sums up the devious and medicre Tim Pawlenty rather well. (Just so you understand some of the localspeak: "DFL" refers to the Democratic Farmer Laborer Party, Minnesota's version of the Democratic Party).


Nick Coleman: The state of the state? A stepping stone
Pawlenty flirts with far-right fringe as he tilts toward the Oval Office.
By NICK COLEMAN, Star Tribune

Last update: February 13, 2010 - 5:31 PM
Featured comment


In his eighth and final State of the State address, Tim Pawlenty said he hopes not to put us through one of those endless and agonizing Minnesota "long goodbyes."

No need to worry, governor. We thought you were already long gone.

Pawlenty's State of the State address had an absent-minded and lackluster tone, which is understandable since it wasn't the most important speech he will give this month. Pawlenty, who spends more time on the road than Danica Patrick, has far more riding on a speech he will deliver this week to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. In that hotbed of right-wing activists Pawlenty will try to gain traction for his tilt at the White House windmill by appealing to folks who get passionate about the gold standard and government attempts to crack down on garlic supplements.

I'm not kidding: The John Birch Society, one of many fringe groups that will have a presence at CPAC, may be known for its pro-gun, anti-immigration efforts, but these days the Birchers are ticked off about a "freedom-destroying" effort in Congress to regulate the sale and use of untested health supplements. Saw palmetto tablet, anyone? The bill's author is that liberal kook John McCain, whom Pawlenty followed like a puppy in 2008 in the hopes of getting a vice-presidential rub on his head.

Two years later, Pawlenty has traveled far to the right of his erstwhile role model, and hopes to draw the spotlight at a conference where he will have to compete with deep thinkers Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Minnesota's own Michele Bachmann.

It won't be Pawlenty's first visit to CPAC. He delivered a coming-out speech last year, giving a humble-pie, aw-shucks, G-droppin' "I'm a bedrock guy from the Heartland" summary of the Conservative Catechism: "It all starts with acknowledging that God is our Creator and it is from God that we receive our values and our principles."

But Pawlenty's White House ambitions started earlier than most Minnesotans know, and coincided with his early disenchantment with being governor, a job that has become increasingly difficult as DFLers expanded their control of the Legislature while, at the same time, Pawlenty abandoned bipartisanship in favor of getting himself on the national radar.

David Schultz, law professor and political observer from Hamline University, recalls Pawlenty's out-of-the-blue demand in 2003 -- late in the first year of his first term -- that Minnesota revive its ancient death penalty after the murder of Dru Sjodin by a sex offender his administration had released. It was the start of Pawlentyism: Talk big and carry a small stick by proposing laws that have no chance of approval in Minnesota but will get you a guest shot on Sean Hannity. "He was looking for an agenda for himself, not for the state," Schultz says. "He throws out this extreme conservative stuff -- Bible-banging, anti-tax, anti-government conservative -- and takes a stand to try to get to the right of other Republican candidates."

It may be working for him. It hasn't worked for Minnesota.

"There is no (presidential) candidacy for Pawlenty if he doesn't move hard right," says Larry Jacobs, head of the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. The activists who control the process in both parties are far more extreme than the public at large, Jacobs says. "The governor has become more conservative than any previous governor," says Jacobs. "And more effective than any previous Republican politician in rising onto the short list for his party's nomination."

The Republican governor who most compares with Pawlenty in terms of the national attention he received was Harold Stassen (another lawyer from South St. Paul), who was elected governor during the Depression, resigned to help fight World War II and helped establish the United Nations. That's where the comparison ends: Pawlenty's raw ambition has led him to play footsie with extreme right-wing forces who want to abolish the U.N.

A gifted politician who never won a majority but led Minnesota through a difficult decade of change and challenge, Pawlenty's legacy remains to be decided by historians. But there is little to brag about. And judging from his speeches this month, he remains devoted to sound bites, not substance.

"The only thing he can say he did is that he didn't directly raise taxes," says Schultz, who believes Pawlenty would not have won again had he chosen to run for a third term. "So that old Ronald Reagan line comes into play: 'Is the state better off now than it was eight years ago?' Unless your sole barometer is to say we have less taxes, the answer from most people is probably no."

Good luck and goodbye, governor. Wherever you are.

Nick Coleman is a senior fellow at the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy & Civic Engagement at the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University. He can be reached at nickcoleman@gmail.com.

------------------------------------
Tim Pawlenty is a typically unoriginal "tax cuts [for the wealthy] will solve all problems" economic and social conservative Republican. Like most in his party, he does not undersatand, nor does he want to, the wants and needs of average everyday working Americans. His only "vision" is seeing himself as President. Somehow, at this point in our history, that's not quite good enough. Pawlenty has neglected the needs of his own state and put his quest for President far in front of them. In the best George W. Bush tradition, he is irresponsibly coasting his last year in office and leaving a myriad of problems for his successor to deal with. His old-fashioned, 1920s-style approach to economics may please the far-right conservatives of his exclusive little Republican party, but they are disastrous prescriptions for this country today and going forward, as the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2007 have abundantly proven.

But keep your eye on this snake-in-the-grass. He'll be rising high in Republican Party circles. As evidenced by their fascination with Sarah Palin and Michael Steele, they love medicre, ineffectual "leaders" of this sort.

But they, and all of us, deserve far, far better!

43 comments:

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Hey Professor! I see your affiliation and points here Jack. Pawlenty is the typical sneaky rethug.
Yet: I disagree with Mr. Coleman's description of the 'supplements bill' (and I tell ya, I'm only aware of the national ones... state ones fall into line with - is my understanding) just because the John Birch-ers [spit! pitouey! pitouey!] are against it doesn't mean that is the correct side of argument... though you might be all for that "regulation / testing" scam. Big pharma is behind it trying to engulf and devour many cottage companies (including mine) by 'regulating' the purchase of essential oils. The AMA has successfully kept world standards in qualifications for alternative modalities such as aromatherapy and acupuncture from being nationally introduced and certified for insurance purposes,etc. I am a British trained aromatherapist and over there I can write a prescription and be paid for consults by national insurance in most western European countries. Here... care givers are a racket. Pisses me off ... you've hit on a personal issue.
But it got nothing to do with how sneaky Pawlenty is!
Just chimming in ... :-)

TRUTH 101 said...

Well, if Pawlenty ends up like Stassen, running for president every election for 40 years and losing, that will will be good.




I think it was Stassen that did that, wasn't it?

Stimpson said...

He at least has more brains than Palin. But then that's not saying much, and I'm not sure it's a good thing from a liberal/left/reality-based perspective.

Jack Jodell said...

Gwendolyn,
Thanks for the background. It just goes to show how deeply the tentacles of the pharma industry have put themselves around the necks of the rest of the country.
---------------
Truth101,
Great point. It was indeed Stassen who perpetually ran for President and perpetually lost.
---------------
Stimpson,
Pawlenty has more brains than Palin, to be sure, but his free-market beliefs and his outlook on government as a hindrance to, rather than potential helper of, average working people is a proven ideological flaw. Pawlenty's world is corporatist and more in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling than with that of everyday working people who are the overwhelming majority of the population. Those who choose to ignore the overwhelming majority to favor a small economic elite, as George W. Bush did, do not belong in the White House anymore. In fact, they don't even belong on the public payroll.

Holte Ender said...

Pawlenty - What an appropriate name for a sneaky, snake-in-the-grass, SOB, knock-kneed, bow-legged etc. etc., he has more brains than Palin, but so does my stool.

Oso said...

Jack,
Sounds like a typical soulless weasel who sucks up to power and rose far higher than he should have.

I think the lack of any charismatic qualities will Peter Principle his ass.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jack, nice piece. I've been convinced for some time that the GOP will take the 2012 election. They will also enjoy huge gains in the upcoming November elections.
With their current paltry numbers in the House and Senate, the GOP has been able to do an incredibly effective job of blocking Obama's agenda.
Imagine how effective they'll be if they gain a bunch of seats in November.
Then, when this happens, you can bet they'll appoint a Ken Starr-like special prosecutor to go after Obama and completely derail his presidency. As was the case with Bill Clinton, it doesn't really matter if this special prosecutor finds anything on Obama---that's not the point.
The bottom line, people, is that Obama and the Dems had their chance. But they blew it. Instead of taking off the gloves and playing hard-ball, they meekly let the GOP sh*t all over them.
Now, the GOP is poised for big gains in the coming years.
I hope to God I'm wrong about all this. But I don't think I will be.

Jack Jodell said...

Holte Ender,
LOL---yes, here in Minnesota, we've had paw-lenty of Pawlenty! :-)
---------------
Oso,
Great summarization. I expect him to fail.
---------------
Hi Marc.
Thanks for your observation. I certainly hope things don't get as bad as what you have stated. I'm counting on a few teabagger/GOP splits similar to what happened in NY's 23rd to help blunt the Republican mini-trend. I think we need to keep in mind, too, that because they're shouting at a volume of 11, they're getting all the media's attention and therefore seem bigger and badder than they actually are. But the public is aware of GOP obstruction tactics and does not like them. They also know the GOP has put forth no real agenda except for a return to the miserable past we just rejected 2 years ago. For these reasons, I don't expect this fall's midterms to be an utter catastrophe. As for 2012, it's still Obama's to win or lose. To prevent catastrophe, though, progressives like you and I have to keep getting the word out---in newspapers, talk radio, magazines, and in the blogosphere. AND---we have to GET OUT THE VOTE! Blog on, brother!

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Holte?! Something about this arsehole vexes thee? LOL

TomCat said...

The guy scares me Jack. He's the type that can privately assure the leaders of the neocons, theocons, corporocons and tea baggers that he's on their side, which he indubitably is, while publicly appearing to be a centrist... just like Crawford Caligula.

Jack Jodell said...

That's why I'm ringin' the alarm bell early, TomCat. Like you, I've had it with these slithery Nixon-W-Cheney types, and the last thing we need is another one of them.

Oso said...

Jack,
Off-topic, I was thinking about making a post at Mikes based on your fiction piece awhile back about a future with the teabaggers in charge?

Wanted to run it by you first, see if you minded if I expand a little on the idea.Maybe a little darker.

Jack Jodell said...

Oso,
I'm flattered by your request. You have my blessing, my good man, and I will be anxious to read your emellishment! :-)

Oso said...

Jack,
Called it "Jack's an Optimist"!

H. Ghr said...

You also wrote “how will you be able to for example research your genetic or epigenetic profile unless you have access to the data first?” Interesting question, but with VERY little impact today. The NIH doesn’t even have the first version of a general data dictionary for genetic data. It will be at least 2 years before the medical association who has contracted to build this data dictionary produces its first draft!

M. Pote said...

Pawlenty's world is corporatist and more in line with the recent Supreme Court ruling than with that of everyday working people who are the overwhelming majority of the population.

S. Trad said...

The bottom line, people, is that Obama and the Dems had their chance. But they blew it. Instead of taking off the gloves and playing hard-ball, they meekly let the GOP sh*t all over them.

D. Rad said...

The public is aware of GOP obstruction tactics and does not like them. They also know the GOP has put forth no real agenda except for a return to the miserable past we just rejected 2 years ago.

seduce flirt  said...

What an appropriate name for a sneaky, snake-in-the-grass, SOB, knock-kneed, bow-legged etc. etc., he has more brains than Palin, but so does my stool.

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