Palin and the tomato

Minnesotans never seemed to have gotten over the Victorian convention of throwing food to express contempt, for some reason: We’ve thrown eggs at Norm Coleman, pies at Jesse Ventura and noxiously tossed a bagel onto the ice at a St. Louis Park hockey game. The latest beneficiary of our comestible outrage was Sarah Palin, who found herself the target of a tomato thrower Monday during her book signing at the Mall of America. According to WCCO, she was not hit, but two Bloomington police officers were struck by fragments, which must have been terrifying, just terrifying.

Gawker has already rushed to the defense of the tomato thrower, which includes an impressive history of food tossing and a collection of videos of politicians and the like who have been on the receiving end of some outraged victual tossers; they’re primary defense for the activity seems to be that they think it’s funny. Minnesota Public Radio’s Bob Collins tweeted about the event, pointing out hypocrisy or false equivalency, depending on your viewpoint, saying, “Notice that many of the same people who were upset at the ‘you lie’ insult are applauding hurling tomatoes at Sarah Palin.”

But for that one incident (two perhaps, if you count the prankster who tried to get Palin to sign the recent City Pages issue that parodied Palin’s book on its cover), the event seems to have gone smoothly, so the local press, including MinnPost, focused on interviewing her fans, and here is a sampling of the quotes they got: The Pioneer Press notes that many at the event were attracted more to Palin’s personality than her politics, quoting one attendee as saying, “She is a very plain-spoken, straight-talking woman, and I cannot tell you how many of my female friends, even those left of center, find that very appealing.” James Lileks of the Star Tribune interviewed Palin fans on video: He asks a youth in the crowd what the appeal is, and heard back that “She is just one of us,” while another fan, dressed in a spangled Palin shirt, described himself as “normal” before copping to traveling around the Midwest to seven different Palin book signings. KARE11 quotes an attendee who gushed about learning that Palin’s husband, Todd, was also in attendance: “We didn’t know the first dude would be here. That was exciting.

The unsigned copy of City Pages wasn’t the only thing linking Palin and Michele Bachmann at this event: Minnesota Public Radio nabbed a photo of two people wearing Palin/Bachmann 2012 hoodies (scroll down here for the image), and MPR’s Tim Pugmire pointed out that both women would be at a private fundraiser following the book signing (“I hope I can get a book and maybe get it signed,” Bachmann says). Asked about who she would support in a presidential run, Palin or Tim Pawlenty, Bachmann waffles: “I like both of them.” It’s probably also worth noting that both women will be speaking at the forthcoming “First National Tea Party Convention,” as reported by CNN.

Bachmann also made an appearance at a GOP rally in the rotunda of the Capitol on Monday in support of Tim Pawlenty’s proposed cap on state spending, according to the Associated Press, which quotes her telling a group of about 100 supporters “People have had it up to here with all the spending.” But, as MPR’s Tim Pugmire points out, Pawlenty’s proposal received some criticism in the actual Minnesota Senate committee, where Dane Smith, president of the pro-tax research group Growth and Justice, offered a withering assessment of the cap: “This so-called spending accountability amendment is a profoundly wrong-headed concept, perhaps the worst of the budget alternatives that have been put before the Legislature.

Pawlenty also received some criticism from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, this time regarding the governor’s comments concerning Massachusetts’ health care system, which Pawlenty claimed might be as much as four times the original estimated cost. The Minnesota Independent has a video of Romney’s retort, in which he testily fact-checked Pawlenty: “I’m afraid facts are stubborn things, and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has taken a good look at the Massachusetts plan some three or four years after it was passed, and it is well within the original forecast. It’s about — a little over 1 percent of the state budget.”

While we’re in the Bay State, it’s probably worth noting that, according to the Associated Press, ACORN, which has long been the subject of Michele Bachmann’s ire, was let off the hook by an ACORN-commissioned assessment conducted by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger — sort of. The report wasn’t without its criticisms, and Harshbarger summed up the results of the assessment as follows: “We did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff involved; in fact, no action, illegal or otherwise, was ever taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers … Instead, the videos represent the byproduct of ACORN’s longstanding management weaknesses, including a lack of training, a lack of procedures and a lack of onsite supervision.”

The Minneapolis City Council has passed its budget, and there will be layoffs, and they will be in the police force, as reported by Brandt Williams of MPR: Of 100 city employees who will lose their jobs under this budget, 25 of them will be police officers, as well as 30 civilian jobs in the police department. A grant might allow the city to hire back about half of the lost officers.

In sports: The Strib’s Judd Zulgad looks at the likely outcome of E.J. Henderson breaking his femur in Sunday’s Vikings game: Rookie linebacker Jasper Brinkley will be replacing him to a large extent; Head Coach Brad Childress offers his assessment of Brinkley: “He’s got a recklessness and a fearlessness and pretty good instinct for where the ball is.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 12/08/2009 - 01:32 pm.

    While Pawlenty’s characterization of cost overruns of Massachusetts Health Plan are exaggerated, the program has neither saved money nor achieved universality. It has been several hundred million dollars over budget each year.

    This year, to save money, the state kicked out of its exchange 30,000 legal immigrants. How they were supposed to buy insurance elsewhere is anyone’s guess.

    The state has also cut payments to Boston’s largest public hospital — the one that provides emergency room care to the uninsured and indigent — by so much that the hospital is suing the state for more money lest it completely loses its ability to serve the poor.

    The MassPlan, incidentally, is the model for the Senate Finance Committee’s health care plan.

  2. Submitted by Howard Miller on 12/08/2009 - 02:16 pm.

    I don’t much like Sarah Palin, and I use words to express that frequently.

    Throwing anything at all at her though, bad idea. The thrower is no different than the neanderthals who think we can bomb our way to success in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran. Violence – even the soft assault of a tomato – is in great surplus already – let’s quit using violence to express our discontent.

    Sarah Palin deserves to live without fear for her personal security, just like you and me.

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