Category: Tim Pawlenty
Posted: 01/31/08 03:12, Edited: 02/01/08 10:54
by Dave Mindeman
There are two current things in life that bug me immensely...one is people who leave there shopping carts cross wise in an aisle while looking for something, guaranteeing nobody can get by... and two, Governor Pawlenty's approval ratings.
All I can do with the former is keep clearing my throat until the shopper gets the hint.... and all I can do with the latter is wonder how many of those shopping cart imbeciles were called for the poll.
I often contemplate about how people define a good job for a politician. What is it, exactly, that Tim Pawlenty has done so well? Has Minnesota's economy been improving? No, it has gotten much, much worse. Have our bridges and roads gotten better? That's a big no. Has education funding been adequate? Judge that by the number of referendums.
Pawlenty exudes that clean cut, All American guy image. Just like the guy in high school who wins all the class contests for student council or class president, and then tells you any complaints you have about the school are all in your head.... don't rock the boat.
Pawlenty also manages to have a good "deflector" dish. For instance, when it comes to transportation, its always Carol Molnau on the hot seat. She makes a great punching bag... she is arrogant, defiant, and stubborn as hell. Perfect foille for the governor with the perfect hair cut.....and he can let her twist in the wind while he stands quietly in the background, nodding his head and gently pushing her to the front.
When the Health Dept screwed up the cancer reporting from the Iron Range, Pawlenty let Diane Mandernach hang herself, while he promised to get to the bottom of it.
And then there is the fate of the surrounding political players. When Pawlenty was elected in 2002, the Republicans were riding a wave.
Norm Coleman just won (stole) his Senate seat and John Kline had unseated Bill Luther giving the GOP a 4-4 split in Congress. The State House had a huge GOP majority under Speaker Sviggum and the State Senate Democrats barely held onto control, with Sen. Dick Day leading a vocal minority there. Plus the Republicans held all the Constitutional offices except Attorney General. It was GOP hog heaven!
But in each subsequent election cycle, the cast of players have been disappearing. GOP House control shifted to a large Democratic majority by 2006 -- Speaker Sviggum is gone. The Democratic majority in the Senate has burgeoned to a veto proof number -- and Dick Day is opting for immigration wars. The Minnesota Congressional delegation changed to a 5-3 DFL majority. Gutnknecht and Kennedy are long gone and Jim Ramstad is retiring. Mark Dayton retired but Amy Klobuchar simply took over the spot. And while the Democrats held the Attorney General slot, they added Secretary of State and State Auditor.
The last man standing.... Tim Pawlenty.
And then there is the masterful way T-Paw has of minimizing potential trouble. Remember back in 2003 when Pawlenty was associated with Elam Baer's telecom scandal. The press was digging into it, so Pawlenty called a news conference where one of his quotes was:"I don't want to say I wasn't responsible," he hedged. "All I want to say are the facts. Should I have known? If the answer is yes, then I am responsible, no question about it."
What the heck does that mean? I don't think the press figured it out either. The whole affair was glossed over and Pawlenty moved on.
And then there was the campaign finance violation in his first campaign... a mere $800,000 worth. His explanation:"Integrity is really important to me," he said. "This whole situation angers me. It frustrates me. And it gives me a lot of personal pain. But a strong leader takes responsibility. And today, I am going to take full, unequivocal responsibility for the decisions and actions that were the subject of the campaign board's decision yesterday."
Translation: Ah shucks, they caught me on that one...but I am powerful sorry about it.... (at least about the getting caught part).
The press gets taken in by that unflappable demeanor. He chooses his words carefully and then shrugs off the criticism. It's always a version of, "C'mon, let's move on, people."
You have to admire that kind of masterful manipulation of any situation. He chastises the press... the Democrats... his critics. And they always back off. He's not only encased in teflon.... it's also bulletproof.
What's going to change any of that? His friends take the political defeats without a whimper. The legislature treats his veto pen as if it were a Harry Potter wand. And the press corps is at his beckon call because he's quotable and gosh darn it, such a nice guy. Add a little national attention with the VP speculation and gushing words of admiration from the conservative press and look where you end up..... Tim Pawlenty, 59% approval and rising.
As for me, I still see a guy whose shopping cart is parked crossways.