In Which I Paint Mark Dayton’s Gubernatorial Portrait

Mark Dayton gave a speech the other day.

John Gilmore at MN Conservatives heard the audio.

And we’ll get to that.  But first, the review:

Gov. Dayton’s first two years have been abysmal. What was it he wanted to do as governor anyway? Wouldn’t a house and senate controlled by republicans offer him the perfect opportunity to lead? To show compromise? To get things done as these political types like to pretend they can? If one was a real leader instead of a lost soul looking for external housing to shore up the inner, yes. But a leader is not who Gov. Dayton is and it is not who he will be in the coming two years, either.

John’s a good friend of this blog.  But I’m not sure whether he’s overestimating Dayton, or underestimating him.

On the one hand, the entire body of evidence that Mark Dayton has ever been that kind of politician is…the body of Mark Dayton’s spoken record claiming it.

On the other hand?  Mark Dayton, his beliefs, his “ideas” and “ideals” and “policy initiatives” – are about as relevant as mine are to the job – because Mark Dayton isn’t really the governor.  Indeed, when they paint Mark Dayton’s official gubernatorial portrait – hopefully in two years – it should look a little like this:

It’s an intercom speaker.  Dayton occupies a seat with the sole mission of repeating, like that intercom speaker, what Alita Messinger and Elliot Seid and Javier Morillo and Tom Dooher to say.

And when he doesn’t have electric cables tied to him, figuratively, to carry their messages, he may as well be that intercom speaker; he’s about as fluent a public speaker as a disconnected intercom.

Back to Gilmore:

Last week the Governor, sounding like a vaguely fascist mandarin, simply insisted without any intellectual depth or sustained engagement that taxes must increase because of his perceived need of all that government must do. His idea of the size & scope of government is not open to discussion. There is no opting out from it because he knows best. What’s that called again?

He made his statement at what, until just yesterday, I had been led to believe was simply a speech reported on by the press. Instead, as MinnPost reported the day before (as did the Pioneer Press), it was a University Lecture. MinnPost polished the knob by saying that the title “university lecturer” could be added to Mark Dayton’s resume. No, really.

Yet what shocked is that this was a lecture grandly titled: “Minnesota’s Future: Challenges and Opportunities” given to the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs Policy Fellows (there’s more intellectual diversity among supporters of Ron Paul by orders of magnitude; the Fellows are the stuff of David Mamet’s nightmares). This was a liberal/progressive/left confab with Little Lord Fauntleroy in attendance.

Now, listening to Mark Dayton speak is, to this speech teacher’s kid, a singularly masochistic thought.  The guy has the diction of Michael Stipe circa 1984.  He’s not a monotone – he’s got two or three tones, really.

And that’s just style points:

I listened to the audio of the Governor’s 25 minute speech. It is appallingly bad. To learn only after the fact that it was a university lecture proper for a set of fellows was mind boggling. He spoke from notes as best from what I could tell. Meandering, at times pointless, at others a non-sequitur minefield, his speech revealed that there is serious trouble with our Chief Executive.

Here’s the problem:

But wait there’s more! The event was closed to the public.

Pardon? Is this possible? Is Common Cause Minnesota on it? From whence shall our help come? Surely the event was taped and surely I will get my hands on it. Try making it private. The entire speech and question and answer session should be posted on the Humphrey School’s website without delay. This event was not a private function.

Huh.  Odd, that.

Where are Common Cause?  The ACLU?  All the usual watchdogs?  MPR’s “Poligraph?”

But here’s the real question:

Why would the press acquiesce in this? Access? Or just the usual hot dish politics? Both?

That’s easy.  For some of the media, it’s access.

For others, it’s that they see themselves as the DFL’s Praetorian Guard.

Remember – after over a decade of hearing about the Governor’s history of alcohol abuse and treatment, of mental illness and concomitant prescriptions for various psychotropic medication, the sum total of the Twin Cities mainstream media’s coverage of Candidate Dayton’s chemical and psychological history was one, single, solitary piece in the Strib by Rachel Stassen-Berger, in January 2010 – roughly nine months before anyone outside the wonk class gave a crap about the election.

Our Governor’s visual performance at this public event is what is being deliberately withheld from the public. What an odd thing to say about Minnesota politics.

Nothing odd about it.

Nothing new, either.

5 thoughts on “In Which I Paint Mark Dayton’s Gubernatorial Portrait

  1. A coworker of mine came up with the best explanation for Dayton’s “visual performance” — he says Dayton looks like someone who has a perpetual swarm of gnats flying about six inches in front of his face.

  2. To me suffering through a speech (or lecture) of Dayton’s would be comparable to suffering Raymond Babbitt, but without any of the Savant characteristics.

  3. The problem with his speeches is he needs someone competent to deliver them. A lot of famous people have ghost writers. If you’re a ghost governor, who do you call to be your mouthpiece? Let’s hope he never re-marries, because every time he divorces he compensates for his shortcomings by running for office.

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