How did veep talk go so far without Pawlenty’s pledge coming up?

It all depends on what the meaning of the word “will” is. Or the phrases “I am committed” and “that’s what I’m going to do.”

If someone says they “will” do something, and it is within the person’s power to do the thing, and they decide not to do it, has the person lied? Broken a pledge? Is it a blot on the person’s escutcheon, whatever an escutcheon is?

What? Please ponder that question for a moment, decide what you think, and we’ll come back to it in a second.

Top pick or tied
Yesterday, on “Meet the Press,” Tim Pawlenty rose to No. 1, or tied for it with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, in the speculation of likely running mates for John McCain.

Moderator Tim Russert went around his table of insiders and asked for names for the Repub veepstakes. Conservative columnist Robert Novak mentioned two names, neither of them Pawlenty or Sanford. National Review Washington Editor Kate O’Beirne gave three names, including Sanford and Pawlenty. Liberal columnist Mark Shields mentioned a couple of senators whom no one else mentioned, then ended: “I’d probably bet on Pawlenty at this point.” Bloomberg News’ Margaret Carlson mentioned Sanford and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Al Hunt, also of Bloomberg News,  went last and mentioned only Sanford and Pawlenty, making them the two speculatees (not a real word) mentioned by three of the five designated mentioners (and, if you need a tiebreaker, none of the Capital Gang members offered to bet on anyone other than our own TPaw).

McCain and Pawlenty, when asked about it, demur, asserting that they’ve never discussed the idea and any such discussion would be premature.

Now, back to the meaning of “will.”

Pretty clear statement
On May 31, 2006, as he announced his candidacy for a second term as Minn Guv, Pawlenty said:

“As to my future, if I run for governor and win, I will serve out my term for four years as governor.” (That “if I run” is pretty funny, coming as it did during his announcement speech. But he did run and win.)

On Jan. 15, 2007, after winning reelection, Pawlenty said:

“I am committed to serving out my term as governor. That’s what I am going to do.

My former co-blogger from Strib days of yore, Doug Tice, and I co-blogged about this several times, most recently, at least with my name on it, here and here, with the same quotes as above and the same basic point. Are we so comfortable with the idea that these guys are lying to us about matters like this that it isn’t even worth discussing?

It’s certainly premature to say that Pawlenty has broken his pledge to serve his full four-year term as governor. One year done and on he serves. It might be unfair to blame him for the fact that almost everything he says and does is interpreted as further evidence that he is burnishing his credentials to be McCain’s choice (except that he could end the speculation if he chose to remind people that he can’t run because he promised to serve his full term).

On the other hand, if “I am committed to” doing something and “that’s what I am going to do” means what my mother taught me it means, how is it possible for the TPaw veep speculation to be this sturdy with so little discussion of the admirably clear pledge he made not to do it?

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/18/2008 - 11:07 am.

    Sounds like he’s a good match for McCain.

  2. Submitted by John N. Finn on 02/18/2008 - 12:27 pm.

    That type of pledge is sort of like proclaiming a self-imposed term limit. Just something you say, nothing more. I might be OK with him running for VP if he had to quit the governorship to do so without first knowing if his Party would prevail. Would the Lt. Gov move up then? Much to ponder here.

  3. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/18/2008 - 11:52 am.

    You do remember that Robert Bruininks was not going to be a candidate for presidency of the University of Minnesota?

  4. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 02/18/2008 - 03:48 pm.

    I didn’t realize you meant THAT pledge, since his no-tax pledge is the one that does so much damage to Minnesota every time he uses his “tax protection pen.”

    Before George Bush could get Grover Norquist’s endorsement (Americans for Tax Reform, http://www.atr.org) for his run at the presidency, he had to promise Grover he would (without actually signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge) promise to be faithful to Grover’s instructions that he veto any attempt at raising taxes, enact huge tax cuts for the wealthy and consider any repeal of those cuts a tax increase, and generally starve any governmental program that might benefit a non-rich person.

    Now it seems that John McCain has done the same thing. He announced yesterday or today that there would be NO new taxes on his watch, doggone. Pawlenty could give him lessons on the destroy-all-government-that-might-improve-life-for-ordinary-people part. What a pair. Poor America.

  5. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 02/19/2008 - 08:42 am.

    It’s amazing to me that this pledge is expendable, but his pledge to the PAC Taxpayers League is carved in stone.

    Actually, I wouldn’t care too much about Pawlenty stepping down because he has been a mediocre governor at best. However with Carol Molnau waiting in the wings to step in, that makes me hope that he doesn’t.

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