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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Pawlenty and McCain: Clumsy Dance Partners

Category: Tim Pawlenty
Posted: 05/01/08 20:43

by Dave Mindeman

Maybe Govnernor Pawlenty's mysterious scheduling has involved some secret trips to the Fred Astaire or Arthur Murray dance studios... because he has been doing a heckuva job with the Tennessee Two Step. Of course, when you have a close affiliation with John McCain, dancing around the issues becomes second nature. This time, its the I-35 Bridge in the Pioneer Press:

Pawlenty Dances Around McCain Bridge Collapse Remarks

I'm not sure McCain can be criticized for "politicizing" the Bridge Collapse with these remarks, because they don't make any sense:

McCain said Wednesday the Minneapolis bridge collapsed "because so much money was spent on wasteful unnecessary pork-barrel projects."

If memory serves, the I-35 Bridge wasn't on anyone's list for early repairs, and certainly not on any Federal request.... and it is even harder to fathom what list it would have been bumped off of, by any other Federal request. To summarize, there is no indication that the Bridge was competing for Federal money, so how could "pork barrel" projects be any kind of factor?

Today, McCain recalibrated:

McCain told reporters in Cleveland, "No, I said it would have received a higher priority, which it deserved."

I still don't get it. Was it on a list for Federal help? And if it was, isn't that an earmark request? And if it would have had a higher priority does that mean that somebody had made an urgent request for the bridge? There was no early plan to fix the bridge.

It is hard to categorize where this conversation falls in the realm of political pandering. Is McCain trying to cover for Governor Pawlenty on transportation? Or is McCain trying to draw attention to Minnesota to pave the way for national attention on Pawlenty?

And is this the way for Pawlenty to "dance" his way through:

Pawlenty, a potential McCain running mate, said he thinks the NTSB's findings and the senator's statements can be reconciled. "I don't think they're in conflict,"

Ummm, sorry, incorrect. They are in direct conflict. The NTSB is doing their best to stay away from maintenance issues -- It would seem McCain is headed right to repairs. That would be a conflict.

Oops, Pawlenty stepped on somebody's toes.....

And then we shuffle off to this:

Pawlenty: "He may not be aware of all the details of all the NTSB's work, and I think once he learns of that, I'm sure he'll incorporate that in his thinking."

I guess that would mean that Senator McCain would be talking about an issue without checking all the information.

Oops, Pawlenty stepped on another toe.....

As McCain limps around the dance floor, he leaves us with this:

"All I can do to respond to those critics is, my job is to make America as safe as possible," he told reporters.

Maybe we need to be protected from clumsy dancers.....
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Franken Has Issues But DFL "Leadership" Should Not Interfere

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 05/01/08 03:02, Edited: 05/01/08 03:09

by Dave Mindeman

I am amazed at all the coverage of Al Franken and his tax problems. It is like a Michael Brodkorb wet dream....he doesn't even have to write "BREAKING NEWS" in BIG CAP HEADLINES every 15 minutes to get the attention.

But beyond the obvious implications, there are a couple of outside observations I'd like to make.

First of all, there is a logistic concern about the Franken campaign itself. Although the response over the last 48 hours has been top notch, as MPR outlined well, it is troubling that all of this information was not vetted before the campaign began. The stakes in a US Senate campaign for any state are very high and the level of scrutiny afforded any candidate borders on insane. One of the basic rules in today's political climate is that an upstart campaign should begin by scrutinizing itself. Look at the candidate the way your opponent would. Democrats in Minnesota have had enough of these gotcha games to know that everything in their life, no matter how trivial, will be magnified to the point of absurdity... and taken out of context to the farthest degree possible.

The Franken campaign missed too many things and often have seemed unprepared to respond.....even though the most recent response has been much better.

The second thing that troubles me is in regards to the DFL party itself. When a candidate runs into difficulty, the DFL always seems to look for ways to bail out. The big donors start trotting out new names and rumors and the party machinery grinds to a halt.

In the Star Tribune coverage, the problem surfaced again:

Although most DFL activists interviewed Wednesday said they still support Franken, some party leaders acknowledged being nervous. And state Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said he had been approached "by numerous people in the last 16 hours" to enter the race.

Now if the activists are willing to stand by Franken, why would "some party leaders" be trotting out trial balloons for other candidates?

In the first place, Rep. Bakk will probably be a fine replacement for Jim Oberstar when he retires, but he is not state wide material....not yet. And secondly, this is a slap in the face to Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer who is running a strong enough candidacy in his own right and has also shown the courtesy not to exploit the Franken situation for himself.

If the Franken campaign falters, then let the political process run its course. We have another candidate in Pallmeyer who has been there from the beginning and is already a perfectly viable alternative. DFL "leaders" trying to manipulate things at this stage of the game only make the problem messier.

So, to the Franken campaign: Show us some magic.
To the DFL Party Leaders: Butt out.

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Minnesota Twins: Ranking 26th In Our Hearts

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 04/30/08 22:15, Edited: 04/30/08 22:17

by Dave Mindeman

Here is a cute little ranking survey for major league baseball teams. It titles it as MLB Ballpark Rankings but the categories include Fan IQ, Hospitality, and Promotions. So really it is more of a total franchise ranking. Now the rankings are determined this way:

They are based solely on results taken from an online survey of baseball fans in March, when we asked readers to rate their hometown ballpark in 10 categories. As a group, these fans know of what they speak: Nearly 15 percent of the responses came from season-ticket holders, and more than half of all the responses came from fans who attend at least five games per season.

So, essentially, fans are rating their own team. Minnesota fans rated the Twins at 26 out of the 30 teams. Looking at some of the individual categories:

Food: ranked at 25. What? You don't like those Hormel Dome Dogs? or Ice Cream in a helmet?

Fan I.Q.: ranked at 22. Maybe they took the survey during one of our April snowstorms and realized...Oh My God, what have we done ...an open air stadium???

Traffic: ranked at 15. Strangely enough, this was one of the higher rated categories for the Twins...even though it was still only mid level. Maybe they should have ranked parking?

Promotions: ranked at 26. Egad! Are they finally getting sick of bobbleheads? Perish the thought... I have 25 I can sell...cheap?

Anyway, I am sure that ranking will improve with a shiny new ballpark.... at least until that first April snowstorm makes it hard to see the ball.

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