Let’s Call It Au Revoir.

Perhaps you heard (it was in all the papers) that Tim Pawlenty pulled out of the GOP Presidential Race yesterday.

“TPaw” is an engaging guy, a  natural politician – which is both a positive and a negative – and very, very underrated as a stump speaker.  And I thought he had a great shot at winning the White House, had he gotten the nomination.  All the polls show that a “Generic Republican” would trounce Barack Obama if an election were held today – and Tim Pawlenty spent his whole campaign trying to set himself up as that generic conservative Republican.

But as Jazz and Ed noted, he could not get the nomination – or, more accurately, it looked unlikely that he’d be able to scare up enough donors to fund a continued race against the rest of the pack.  “Generic Republican” was the wrong brand in a year when the GOP straw-poll-voting base wanted red, principled meat

I think TPaw battled a couple of misconceptions.  The one from the left – that he left Minnesota with a “Six Billion Dollar Deficit” – is the easiest to dispatch.  TPaw left the state with a small operating surplus and a DFL-dominated bureaucracy that, as he left office, demanded six billion dollars more than the state was taking in at the time.  It was aforecast, not a budget.  It was of no weight whatsoever – not that that mattered to the media, who waved the figure around as if it was a hard budget number.   Pawlenty also left the state with among the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.

Harder to tackle is the flak he took from the right.  Sue Jeffers – a friend and fellow MN CD4 activist, who hosts a show at the lesser Twin Cities conservative talk station, and who mounted a primary challenge form the right against the incumbent Pawlenty in 2006 – insists that Pawlenty was a “RINO”, because of a variety of policies that were, by conservative standards, miscues; his support of a state version of “cap and trade” (which failed to pass), his flirtation with the global warming orthodoxy, his “health impact fee” and a few other issues.  If you were a Sullivan supporter in 2002 – and I was – then he was not the governor you wanted.

But he was the governor we got, as opposed to Roger Moe or Mike Hatch.  Thank God.  And while Pawlenty squibbed on several hottish-button conservative issues, he held the line on the bigdaddy animalmotha of them all; taxes and the budget.  Not perfectly – but then, he faced a divided legislature until 2006, and an entirely DFL legislature, and an executive branch in which he was the sole GOP elected official, since then.

And yet he did an admirable job of holding the line on the budget for those four years, outmaneuvering the DFL to the point that they basically spun themselves into near-irrelevance in the process (the DFL endorsement is basically the kiss of death in Minnesota, and for their current chairman they had to import the chair of a “progressive” attack-PAC), and taking the path of greatest resistance; if he were a “moderate”, giving way on taxes would have been the easy route.

And yet he didn’t; he vetoed the DFL’s tax hikes every chance he got, succumbing only to the perfidy of the “Override Six”.

So he wasn’t the perfect governor, but he was paw-lenty good enough.

(Sue hates when I say that.  “It’s that kind of thinking that got us into trouble” during the Bush years.  There’s a point to that.  But go ahead, go down the road of uncompromising purism; wave “hi” to the Libertarians and the Greens on your way past!  The solution, of course, is to make sure “good enough” really is good enough – which is what we’re doing right now, in every GOP precinct in the US.  And at the presidential level, I’m feeling a lot better about things now than I have in decades; if you remember the Bob Dole coronation, and years when the most conservative candidate we had was dark-horse Steve Forbes, then you should oughtta be thanking your lucky stars for the field we have).

Will TPaw run for Senate against Amy “A-Klo” Klobuchar, or sit on the sidelines and build up a war chest to run againstAl ” Stuart Smalley’ Franken?  It’s a tough call; Franken’s a much weaker candidate (remember his 300-vote margin of “victory” in 2008, on Obama’s coat-tails and in a terrible year for the GOP?), but right now Hooters waitresses have longer coattails than Barack Obama; the iron may be hot for the striking now.  The state GOP thinks so: chairman Tony Sutton is already talking”Pawlenty For Senate”.

Either way, I hope he does.  I don’t think he got his due in this presidential race.


11 thoughts on “Let’s Call It Au Revoir.

  1. Pawlenty was my first choice.
    I’m leaning towards Perry now, but I know it would be very easy for the D’s to paint him as the reincarnation of George W. Bush. Still, Perry has the reputation of being a street fighter and conservatives have not had one of those at the top of the ticket in a very long time. Also Perry’s campaigns are supposed to somehow attract luck. The cards fall right for him and wrong for his opponents.

  2. I don’t know enough about Perry other than that he’s not Obama, so he’s got the first and foremost qualification for office down. Heck, my dog would do better than Obama as President: he’d at least follow the Hippocratic Oath in that he would first do no harm since he’d do nothing other than sleep on the couch for four years!

    TPaw would have been a good President. He’s just not been able to get enough media buzz to overcome the herd that is the GOP nomination seekers. In a more normal election cycle he would have done well so there is still hope for him in the future.

    But Bachmann did very well on the talk shows on Sunday despite all the hard questioning that Obama never got. All that badgering from the local leftie press really helped her in her national debut in a way that Palin really could have benefited from. Bachmann’s been a backbencher for a while and in the minority for most of her career so she might not be as effective a president as TPaw, but there’s no doubt about her backbone or beliefs (unlike McCain, who’s unilateral cancellation of campaigning in the middle of a financial crisis was just bizarre).

  3. We live in a Hollywood culture. Obama and his handlers understand this. Tim hasn’t got any charisma. In a presidential race, that is a fatal flaw. Bachmann scares the crap out of the Democrats. Anyone who has watched her speak live can see the energy and passion she presents. I’m about 90% sure that whoever gets the top slot will tap her as the VP candidate. And she will kick ass.

  4. Pawlenty was my first choice as well. Bachmann’s not going to get the endorsement and I’m hesitant to support either Romney or Perry at this point. That could change as the race develops but for now, I’m on the sidelines watching carefully and critically.

  5. We live in a Hollywood culture.

    I agree but I don’t think that’s limited to just the left side of the aisle. There are far too many conservatives who fawn over their preferred candidates and project all sorts of undeserved virtues on them much the same way that many on the left did for Obama in 2008. My rule of thumb is – if you’re referring to someone famous who you aren’t actually personally acquainted with by their first name or some cutesy nickname, you’re probably in danger of doing this.

  6. Kerm, Bachmann accepting the VP slot at this point in her career would be career ending. She’s still on the rise, while accepting VP would tie her to whomever did the nominating in a way that would limit her future options severely. Unlike the Democrats, losing the GOP nomination isn’t a death knell to future aspirations, it’s almost a requirement since the GOP nomination requires convincing so many skeptical folks, so I don’t see her doing accepting a VP nomination. She’s too smart for that.

  7. I have mixed feelings about Pawlenty’s early exit. I was both pleasantly surprised and disappointed. After coming in third in Iowa’s straw poll, he seemed like a dead man walking. Without much popular support, financial support will all but dry up. On one hand, it was nice to see Pawlenty quickly recognizing the facts as they are, rather than throwing what little money he had away. On the other hand, it also showed an absence of intestinal fortitude that you would expect from a presidential contender. Especially for a candidate that was an early and stanch supporter of Senator McCain in 2008, even during McCain’s most austere moments when the Senator was campaigning alone, flying by commercial airlines.

    Everybody comments on Pawlenty’s galactically stupid tactical blunder in avoiding Romney in the N.H. debate, after the Romneycare shot across the bow remark, making him appear passive-aggressive. It was huge, no question. However, he made a much greater strategic mistake that insured him of obscurity entering the nomination contest. When surveying his political prospects in early 2009, he concluded winning a third term as governor would be difficult and potentially a politically fatal career decision. He failed to foresee the rise of the Tea Party and the unpopularity of President Obama’s policies, particularly Obamacare and the stimulus. Had Pawlenty pressed on and ran for a third term, history shows that he would not have succumbed to the fate of the weak Tom Emmer, but would have prevailed over Dayton, notwithstanding a third party candidate. Had Pawlenty been in the Governor’s mansion in early 2011 with a Republican dominated state house and senate, Pawlenty would have been in the position to institute the (Wisconsin) Governor Scott Walker like reforms to union collective bargaining and voter ID check, in addition to slashing the state budget. He would have made himself into a national household name as Walker has, but without exposing his party to recall elections as Wisconsin legislators are susceptible to. And unlike Walker, with Pawlenty’s two terms of experience, his 2011 success would likely have catalyzed a presidential draft far greater than we have seen for Governor Perry.

    Waiting until 2016 to challenge Mark Dayton or Stuart Smalley would be the path of least resistance, and given Pawlenty’s track record of avoiding the big fights, these are the races from which I expect him to choose. Compared to Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Amy Klobachar is considerably smarter, harder working, personally likeable, and sane, thus she is a much greater challenge. Nothing in his history suggests Pawlenty has the cojones for such a fight. But only through such a fight will he earn the respect from Republicans nationally to shed his wimp image.

  8. Nerd, the VP slot is often the springboard for the top job. Unless you’re Walter Mondale or Al Gore. It would make her President of the Senate. It would raise her national profile. Case in point: Sarah Palin. Running for VP under the dismal John McCain didn’t hurt her much, and she’s still being touted as a POTUS candidate.

  9. Kerm, Bachmann accepting the VP slot at this point in her career would be career ending.

    For her or for whoever is running at the top of the ticket?

    I don’t see whoever becomes the GOP nominee seriously considering a Representative as the number two person on the ticket. I think at a minimum Perry or Romney or whoever gets the nomination is going to want someone who has successfully won a Statewide race and can deliver a State or two that would likely go for Obama. Or go the Dick Cheney route and pick someone who would make a good President to help govern. Bachman’s never won a Statewide race and doesn’t bring any executive or legislative leadership experience to the table so I don’t think she’ll be seriously considered as a running mate.

  10. I don’t think Bachmann is anyone’s VP. For one thing, I bet that she’s going to campaign aggressively enough that she’s not going to be making new friends among her rivals.

    Pawlenty won’t get the nod. I bet that Perry’s dream VP right now is Petraeus. Or someone who has significant homegrown popularity in Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Florida.

  11. I like T-Paw for Senate, if nothing else it turns a likely/safe D seat into a tossup and forces the dems to play defense in a year that they have to play a TON of that to keep us from getting the gavel in the senate. His aw shucks attitude that killed him in the presidential campaign would be a huge asset in a senate run, plus he could go after Amy on issues and hopefully eliminate the need for a bloody primary on our side.

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