Is This The Best Tim Pawlenty Can Do?


Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has offered what the Wash Post's Chris Cillizza calls a "stinging critique" of his own party in a recent interview:

Pawlenty, who is retiring this fall after his second term as governor of Minnesota to explore a run for president, ascribed the electoral defeats of Republicans in recent elections to "a whole bunch of corruption and personal scandals that weren't compatible with the principles it claimed to stand for."

"We got fired for a reason," he added.

More here.

If this is a window into Pawlenty's mind, can someone shut the blinds on his presidential aspirations now? Sure, the garden-variety sex and corruption scandals of tools ranging from Mark Foley to Duke Cunningham and a cast of priapic spastics too numerous to mention didn't help the Party of Lincoln win any votes. But the real problem wasn't personal problems or penny-anted corruption. It was the fact that George W. Bush and a GOP Congress basically doubled real federal outlays when it was in power and exceeded every possible notion of limited government. And prosecuted (incompetently) two increasingly unpopular region-building exercises. And then Bush left office in an orgy of bed-wetting spending (sorry) on TARP, auto bailouts, etc., the likes of which hadn't been seen before.

The GOP can't rebound by dumping salt-peter in the chow at the C Street condo (home to any number of over-heated Republican sex maniacs). They need to come up with a credible plan to shrink government at every level (including the policing of the country's bedrooms) if they want to get a second look.

Lots of luck on that one, fellas.

Update: In the comments below, prolefeed suggests that I "conveniently" left out other bits from the Pawlenty interview. Not quite, mon ami. I didn't read the interview, relying instead in the Wash Post gloss I quote from (and link to) above. Which may be lazy but is certainly not[*] in bad faith. I did go to the Esquire interview and there's no question that Pawlenty talks a good game on many issues related to the economic issues, especially by calling bullshit on Hank Paulson's version of events surrounding TARP.

I don't know off the bat what sort of numbers that Pawlenty put up as head viking in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but I do think most readers will find his Esquire interview worth reading. Check it out.

[*]: D'oh on top of d'oh. Dropped word in original update.

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  1. Is that a picture of Soupy Sales?

  2. Hey, Nick, here’s the other thing Pawlenty said in the linked article that you conveniently chose to leave out of your rant:

    “We just lost our way. You can’t say that your hallmark issues are that we’re going to control spending, keep taxes low, and make government accountable, and then go to Washington and do the opposite…. Let’s face it, when Republicans had total control over it, they didn’t do what they said they were gonna do.”

    This was in the article RIGHT AFTER the words you quoted, so you couldn’t possibly have missed this.

    I call bullshit on your biased, highly selective editing, Nick. He said he’s for the same things you implied he isn’t for.

    1. Nice catch.

    2. Which may be lazy but is certainly not[*] in bad faith.

      Nick, is the quote below from your post a few days ago lazy,bad faith, or an outright lie?

      There is nothing in your link to support the statement that Shelby hypocritically (or in any other way) got his son off a drug charge

      I can’t fault you for leaving out that Sen Shelby lead the Senate opposition to the 2008 TARP, and all subsequent bailouts as it wasn’t really relevant to your hissy fit over his blocking Obama’s appointments.

      Shelby has long been known as a hypocrite on drug war issues, since he helped get his son sprung from a possession charge despite his support for draconian laws for the rest of us.

    3. @prolefeed, politicians say a lot of things. What has TP done to act on them?

  3. What’s his record as Governor look like?

    Does Minnesota have a budget surplus?

    1. No. No. No.

      And Pawlenty has had his thumb in that. When Ventura was leaving, there was a big budget crunch which Pawlenty (who was then in the state legislature) helped fix with all sorts of accounting gimmicks.

      Needless to say, since then we have been like a bad gambler chasing.

    2. He ain’t great, but he’s better than some.….._Yyc:aUUsA
      the Dem legislature has passed some deficit budgets which Pawlenty has line-item vetoed enough spending out of to balance.

  4. Prolefeed: good that you found the really important part of Gov Tim’s critique.

    As for Republicans actually looking to cut government, it remains a minority taste in the minority party. But Tom Campbell, running for Senate in California, has issued detailed proposals for $708 billion in cuts to the federal budget, which would get it down to MORE than Bush’s last spendfest.

  5. The fact that George W. Bush and a GOP Congress basically doubled real federal outlays when it was in power and exceeded every possible notion of limited government.

    I think we’ve learned in the last year that there were a whole host of ways to exceed the notion of limited government that Bush & Co. did not indulge in.

  6. It is no kind of excuse but I never see anyone point out that Bush, in his infamous “I had to abandon free market principles to save the free market” interview with CNN actually kinda,sorta blames his successor for TARP and the auto bailout in that he didn’t want to leave Obama the “mess”(Obama voted for both in the Senate).
    I still say tar and feathers are too good for him

  7. I haven’t listened to the interview yet, but I mainly wonder if it mentions the elephant in the room: the criminally stupid Iraq War. These Republican “we deserved it because we weren’t Republican enough” screeds never seem to go there.

    1. The criminally stupid Iraq war was an electoral winner in ’04, (and also in ’02, in a way) so from a purely political POV, this critique only goes so far.

      1. “The criminally stupid Iraq war was an electoral winner in ’04, (and also in ’02, in a way) so from a purely political POV, this critique only goes so far.”

        I think the reasons for this is that the Democrat’s opposition to the war was NOT based upon principles but vapid partisan politics. If they had stood on principles like Ron Paul did I think the results would have been quite different. If I oppose you on an issue but I am clearly doing so for partisan reasons you cannot blame people for assuming you are correct and I am incorrect.

        1. I would argue the converse. That is, those that were fully and straightforwardly against the Iraq War (e.g. Howard Dean) were in fact principled but found their electoral prospects not a good as they should have been. In contrast, those that try to finesse their position (e.g. John Kerry) found some success, but not the ultimate prize as they tried to have it both both ways. (Hillary Clinton would also find this, but with the political winds blowing in the opposite direction).

          There are two possiblities if John Kerry would have ran a campaign that was four-square against the Iraq War. Either he would have actually won, or he would have lost by a bigger amount. It is plausible that the first could be true, but is more likely that (given the example of McGovern in ’72) that Kerry would have lost bigger.

          The people of the United States were for the Iraq War before they were against it. And they only became against it sometime in ’05. (right before Katrina).

          1. I think Kerry lost because he was John Kerry. His position on the war didnt matter at all.

  8. I don’t know off the bat what sort of numbers that Pawlenty put up as head viking in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

    Cato’s Fiscal Report Cards on governors gave him above average but not outstanding (outstanding would be, e.g., Mark Sanford and actually Joe Manchin (D-WV)) over most years surveyed.

    1. Thanks Mark Sanford for being a fucking idiot and ruining your chances.

  9. Which may be lazy but is certainly in bad faith.

    ‘*not* in bad faith’, n’est pas?

  10. What did you expect from “Good ole Nck”?
    He is a hack.

  11. LOL, Hes gonna have to to a LOT better than that! LOL


  12. Nick.

    Well done. Your thoughts and words cut to the very bone of Democratic and Republican hypocrisy and stupidity.

  13. Sorry, Nick. Love your stuff, love the jacket — but this is embarrassing.

    Pawlenty — who I have no particular brief for one way or another — said the exact things in this interview you excoriated him for NOT saying…you simply failed to do enough due diligence to READ THE ACTUAL INTERVIEW. That’s the sort of journalistic laziness you routinely lambast (and rightly so). Best to cop to it.

  14. Pawlenty is the Republican version of Bill Clinton. He may have done a few things right but only because they were also good for Tim Pawlenty.

    He took money from a GOP activist (60K) as a retainer for legal work. This is while he was running for governor the first time. He never did any work at all for that retainer.

    He has promised never to raise taxes. During budget woes he has raised taxes on cigarettes but called them “health impact fees” and thus not a breach of his promise to not raise “taxes”.

    He also allowed Hennepin county to create a special sales tax to fund a stadium for the Twins. There is a state law that was supposed to require new taxes for stadiums go to a referendum. The state legislator passed a waiver to that law for the Twins and Pawlenty signed it. Again, when asked how that squared with his no new tax pledge, he claimed it was the county that raised taxes not him.

    I really don’t get why there is any national buzz about Pawlenty. He has been a very mediocre governor. He has been exceptionally lucky in who ran against him. He didn’t so much win his last election in 2006 as his opponent beat himself.

    1. “He also allowed Hennepin county to create a special sales tax to fund a stadium for the Twins.”

      Wow, if letting a local government enact a tax hike on themselves is a disqualifier, then there is no electable politician in this country for Republicans.

      1. In Minnesota there was a state law that required any entity trying to raise money for a new stadium to get the tax approved via a referendum.

        The Twins had already lost at least 1 other such referendum (in St. Paul) and all polls indicated they would lose one in Hennepin county as well.

        Pawlenty signed off on the waiver allowing the new tax and then tried to deny that somehow his “No New Taxes” pledge was intact.

        So yeah, I do think it is hypocritical of Pawlenty to hold himself out as a hard liner on taxes when he is willing to circumvent existing laws in order to accommodate the billionaire owner of the Twins.

      2. Except that the existing law stated that they couldn’t. In not vetoing the law, TP was endorsing the possibility of a new tax.

        TP’s also done a lot to funnel gov’t money into stinker projects like rail transit and ethanol.

  15. “I didn’t read the interview, relying instead in the Wash Post gloss I quote from (and link to) above.”

    Why do you rely on journalists to give you the story? How many times do you have to be burned in order for you to learn that journalists don’t factually report the news but rather their own internal narrative of the news.

  16. THANK YOU for posting this! I really like your blog!!
    Common Cents

    ps. Link Exchange?

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