The old “take a theatrical look in the dictionary to set up today’s column” trick is an old favorite for writers who’ve hit bottom in the idea bag but still need to crank something out.
I am, of course, nowhere near the bottom of the barrel – and I’ve always found the whole “Hey, lookit what I pulled out of the dictionary!” thing to be a tiresome cliché.
Still, I found myself drawn, mirabile dictu, to the dictionary this morning. For some reason, I felt the need to look up “flack“. ‘Strooth! And here’s what it said:
flack /flæk/ [flak]
–noun Sometimes Disparaging .
1. press agent.
–verb (used without object)
3. to serve as a press agent or publicist: to flack for a new rock group.
–verb (used with object)
4. to promote; publicize: to flack a new record.
Use flack in a Sentence
1935–40; said to be after Gene Flack, a movie publicity agent
Utterly unrelated to my trip to the dictionary (pinky swear!), I read yesterday’s Lori Sturdevant column in the Strib. No, I know – I constantly accuse Sturdevant of being, well, a flack for the DFL. But there is, I swear to Jah Rastafari, no connection. Really!
Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s self-congratulatory performance Thursday in response to that day’s whale-of-a-deficit state budget forecast sent me to the dictionary [Oh, snap! – Ed.] to check the meaning of the word “chutzpah.”
“Supreme self-confidence: nerve, gall,” Merriam-Webster Online said.
If chutzpah isn’t a fitting label for the show in the governor’s reception room, it surely comes close. It also may be apt for the temperament required for a governor who has presided over eight years of persistent fiscal trouble to mount a bid for the presidency.
Poor Lori. Tim Pawlenty, governor and in the front ranks of Sturdevant’s phalanx of betes noir of eight years, is moving on to bigger and better things – certainly a run at the Presidency, and most likely a really, really great career in some capacity or another no matter what happens, while the DFL is set to endure at least four years in the Legislative cold and with, frankly, the worst governor in Minnesota history (even before inauguration), as she wraps up her career in a dying industry. Tha’ts gotta stink.
No other governor in Minnesota’s 152-year history has handed his successor a $6.2 billion deficit forecast along with the keys to the Capitol’s executive suite.
But to be fair to Governor Pawlenty (an idea that no doubt causes Ms. Sturdevant abdominal pain), no other governor in Minnesota history has had to face such a grossly, profligately irresponsible legislative majority. The DFL majority this past four years has set the “standard” for rodentine cowardice and expedient buck-passing.
Best of all – Sturdevant admits it herself, later in the piece.
But we’ll get to that.
But if Pawlenty has any remorse or regrets about passing that much trouble along to the next occupant, he didn’t display them. Instead, he boasted that he was ending his watch with the state “on the right track” and with “money in the bank.”
And so he should! Minnesota has – despite the DFL majority’s best efforts – an unemployment rate two points below the national average. He kept (to a gratifyingly great extent) his 2002 “no new taxes” promise, and held the line against a crushing DFL majority for the past four years.
Though Thursday’s numbers foretold a worsening problem in 2012-13, Pawlenty pronounced it “very manageable.” He allowed that most of it would have vanished already if his old nemeses, the DFLers who controlled the 2009-10 Legislature, would have done his bidding.
And Pawlenty was absolutely right.
Had he been paired with a legislature that was focused on anything other than catastrophic spending as a matter of principle, we wouldn’t be in this jam.
But this is the DFL – the party that believes your money belongs to the government first and foremost.
Even though the 2010 Legislature gave its blessing to virtually all of the spending cuts and shifts Pawlenty imposed unilaterally (and, it turned out, illegally) in 2009, it deviated from the governor’s script in one respect. The cuts were designed to boomerang back for reconsideration by a new governor and the 2011 Legislature. (Those crafty DFLers didn’t anticipate that in the 2011 Legislature, they would be in the minority.
Did you catch that? Sturdevant is saying that the DFL engineered the “budget crisis” to try to embarass the GOP!
The DFL – the Party of Fiscal Sabotage! Lori Sturdevant says so! And if there’s an official voice of the DFL, Sturdevant is it in all but official name.
How very statesmanlike of the DFL! Way to look out for the future of Minnesota!
The answer is simple; the GOP majority should show the new “Governor” no mercy, and no quarter. He and his constitutional officers are the last vestiges of a party that gambled with Minnesota’s fiscal well-being, and lost. If that’s what the DFL did – essentially set a fiscal IED to try to pad their own political nest – then they deserve a good crushing.
Spanish has a good word for that; Degüello. Applied rhetorically, of course. I – insignificant schnook blogger that I am – certainly plan to practice it for the next four years.
Look it up in the dictionary yourself. It’s your cliché, not mine.