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
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 email@example.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!