Chanting Points Memo: Emmer’s “Big Lie”

Did Tom Emmer lie?


But we’ll come back to that.  We’ve got a bit of business to take care of first.


It’s time to inaugurate a new Berg’s Law.  These laws of human and political behavior are based on decades of observing people and their behavior, and, as “laws”, have passed beyond mere theory.

Anyway – there were nine.  Now there are ten.  Here’s the new one:

Berg’s Tenth Law of Quantum Context: When a liberal says a conservative is “lying”, the odds of the “lie” being merely an ambiguity triggerging some form of cognitive dissonance increases in geometric proportion with the volume and stridency of the liberal’s declaration.

That law will rear its head shortly.


If there’s one thing I like about Tom Emmer, it’s that he’s a real guy.

When Emmer talks, you know you’re getting Tom Emmer, and not some slickee-boy focus-group-polished polibot facade.   That’s played against the part of his public image his opponents and the Twin Cities media (they are, at an institutional level, one and the same) have chosen to spotlight; “he has a temper”, intones a Twin Cities media that spent a couple of decades covering for congenital martinet Mike Hatch’s Queeg-like administration at the Attorney General’s office and his legendary temper.

He’s a big, beefy guy with an iron handshake and a sense of dynamic magnetism that wins people over when they actually meet him – which is why the DFL and media (pardon the redundancy) are playing such eager ball on “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”‘s smear campaign.

Which shows off, by the way, some of the media’ s hypocrisy; their editorials will bemoan, for three years at a shot, the impossibility of “real people”, with families and warts and skeletons and real-life jobs and careers and stories, getting into politics, and how opposition research will eventually limit the political gene pool to people who’ve bred themselves for campaigning from childhood – people who can not possibly related to regular voters.  And then we get exactly such a regular guy – and the media spends two months misrepresenting his civil court records and his 20-and-30-year-old reckless driving convictions.

Anyway: like most people, Emmer’s great strength is also a weakness.  His passion for his cause and his campaign, and everything it stands for, makes every room he’s in positively throb with energy.  That’s a huge strength;  watching Emmer on a stage with with his opponents is a study in contrasts; Tom Horner is like a human MP3 player loaded with message lines stuck on “shuffle”; Mark Dayton looks like he’s about to demand to go watch Wapner.  Emmer, on the other hand, is sharp, engaged, and thinks on his feet as well as anyone in Minnesota politics.

As opposed to “consistently repeats a rehearsed, focus-grouped, finely-tuned message vetted by his message cops”.

And that’s the downside of Emmer’s big strength; he occasionally ad-libs; often it’s a home run; sometimes he fans; once in a while – the tip flap – he bats into a double play.

I give Emmer – or anyone who speaks exemporaneously but genuinely, including the likes of Paul Wellstone, who was a spotty public speaker but nothing if not geuine, warts and all – a lot of slack.  Because that’s how real people who are passionate about what they think and believe speak; straight from the gut, damn the torpedoes.

I like that quality in Emmer, because that’s how I speak.  I’m usually dead-on; I occasionally muff one.  I pick myself up, dust myself off, and go forth to kick more ass.


So the other day, Emmer released the first installment of his budget plan.  It is, for the moment, a high-level set of goals and principles, as befits a guy from the party not in power (yeah, Pawenty’s the goverrnor, but his power, brilliantly as he’s exercised it, has been entirely defensive).

And as part of presenting that installment, Emmer said that the  proposal had been vetted by the Department of Revenue.

Someone from DoR, asked later that day, said that “Emmer’s plan” had not been vetted.

“Lie!”, screamed the usual assortment of DFL chanting-point bots in the blogs and on Twitter.

That’s where Berg’s Tenth Law comes in.

I talked with two different sources close to the episode.  Both said that Emmer – speaking extemporaneously and on a bit of a roll – wrote a rhetorical check that the bank needed to run through two times; he mis-spoke just a tad.  Because “the plan” had not, in its entirety, been vetted by the DoR.

But every single part of it, individually, has been.

Because there is, in fact, nothing new in Emmer’s plan.  All of it has come out in one proposal in the house or another over the past few years, from the conservative bloc led by Emmer and Mark Buesgens and Laura Brod and Keith Downey and a few other notable fiscalcons.   And each of those proposals has, in turn, been vetted by DoR when they were going through the legislative process, according to the same two sources with intimate knowledge of the gestation of Emmer’s budget proposal.

So while nobody has walked Emmer’s entire budget proposal into the DoR and gotten the entire document signed off, there is nothing new in the proposal as far as the DoR is concerned.

More on that later.

So Emmer turned many small approvals, in the heat of the moment and on a stage at a moment when his campaign was making a great leap forward, into one big one that happened not to exist.

Is it a “lie?”

Depends on what the definition of the word “is” is, doesn’t it?


So does a conflation of many approvals into one for purposes of giving a speech – an infinitesimal rhetorical bobble under any normal circumstances – make Tom Emmer a bad candidate?

Hell no.  The underlying facts are worthy of debate (which is why the media and the DFL chanting point bots are focusing so hard on everything but the underlying facts).  So what if Tom Emmer bobbles the occasional I or T?  I will take a real, genuine person with passion for his principles every single time, all other things being equal, over a focus-grouped talking-point-bot.

Every single time.

So, I think, would most Minnesotans, if they thought about it.

Which is why the Twin Cities media and the DFL’s noise machine is trying to keep people from thinking about it.

5 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: Emmer’s “Big Lie”

  1. Ah, two great movie references in one post:

    Mike Hatch’s Queeg-like administration

    Mark Dayton looks like he’s about to demand to go watch Wapner

    I must once again stand in awe of a master.

  2. Me three, and I’ll add another new classic Mitch quote:

    ‘Tom Horner is like a human MP3 player loaded with message lines stuck on “shuffle”’

  3. Wait just a cotton pickin’ minute here!

    I thought that Tom Horner was an independent? If so, then why is he “a human MP3 player stuck on shuffle” just like liberats? I am just gobsmacked!

  4. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » Chanting Points Memo: “Unvetted”

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