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‘A bunch of crap,’ says Pawlenty, of charges he ignored official duties

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: Minnesota’s “dairy gap.” And outsourcing the gubernatorial painting, assessing Pawlenty’s tenure, and catching up with Bachmann and Ellison.
Read Wed. Morning Edition


Gov. Pawlenty continues what is either a victory lap or a campaign warm-up. He was in Grand Forks Tuesday, granting an interview to the brass of Forum Communications and ECM Publishers. He sounds a little annoyed by a question as to whether he neglected his governing duties to lay ground for a presidential run? Don Davis files: “ ‘It’s a bunch of crap,’ he said about what he sees as Democratic-Farmer-Laborite attempts to paint him as a disinterested governor. But it is not just DFLers who question whether Pawlenty has mentally checked out of his job. Many Republicans also quietly have wondered about that. Pawlenty said that Democrats’ logic goes something like this: ‘He must be running for president or he would be raising taxes.’ ”

And: “ ‘The inference from that group is that he must have an ill motive or a mental defect because he just won’t raise taxes like a Democrat. And to be conservative, fiscally conservative, and to refuse to raise taxes and take other positions that I have there must be something wrong with him. There has just got to be a motive for higher office or something else wrong with him.’ ” Well … yeah, now that you mention it.

Come on, girls, we can do better. The Chicago Tribune reports that milk production “lagged” in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. “Dairy farmers across the nation produced 3.1 percent more milk last month than they did in November of last year. The leader, as usual, was California [America’s real dairyland]. The nation’s top milk producer generated 3.3 billion pounds for the month, an increase of 4 percent from November 2009.” As for us slackers: “Wisconsin’s production nudged up less than 1 percentage point, to 2.1 billion pounds. It still remains No. 2 in the nation for milk production. Minnesota was the only major milk-producing state to see a decrease. Dairy farmers there produced 714 million pounds for the month, a 2 percent decrease.” Embarrassing, isn’t it?

Marianne Combs of MPR posts on the State of the Arts blog that some listeners are questioning Gov. Pawlenty’s decision to pay $25,000 to $30,000 to an out-of-state artist to do his official portrait. “[O]ut of 39 governors, three (possibly four) chose to go outside the state of Minnesota to find a portrait artist. Why? Is it because we’re now living in a more globalized society? (not likely — Orville Freeman served in 1955) Is it a political thing? (also unlikely, since those who chose non-Minnesotans were a democrat, an independent and a republican, respectively). Or were they concerned about their image at the national level? Hmm…”

The artist, an Atlanta-based Bulgarian by the single name Rossin, has an interesting work record. Rachel Stassen-Berger, at the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics,” writes: “Rossin — has done commission works of President George W. Bush and President George H. Bush for the The George. H. Bush Presidential Library, President Theodore Roosevelt for the Theodore Roosevelt Association, U.S. Sens Paul Coverdale and Saxby Chambliss and other power players.” And: “But before you leave the official portraitist’s site, cruise on over to his ‘Contemporary Works.’ There you will find photo-like oil paintings of a bald Britney Spears, a blue-eyed Jesus, a plastic Barbie and yes, Sharee from the Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Must … resist … temptation.

Combs’ colleague Tom Scheck delivers another in what is certain to be a long line of exit-assessments of Pawlenty’s tenure. He recalls the governor’s recent declarations of a “surplus.” “ ‘The good news that we’re here to share with you, of course, is we’re going to end my time as governor in the budget cycle that we’re in with a surplus and money in the bank.’ ” (Yes, he actually said that.) “Pawlenty was technically correct,” Scheck writes, “since state finance officials say Minnesota has a $399 million surplus in the current two year budget. But what Pawlenty failed to highlight is that he’s leaving Democratic Gov.-elect Mark Dayton and the Republicans ready to take control of the Legislature with a $6.2 billion budget deficit in the coming biennium. Pawlenty called the massive budget hole a work of ‘fiction.’ That’s a dramatic departure from 2003 — when Pawlenty characterized the $4.5 billion budget deficit he was inheriting as ‘the Incredible Hulk of budget deficits.’ “ Well, come on, The Hulk is, you know, like fiction, man.

For some reason that last one — matched with this one — has me imagining the Governor and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann  as those two little figurines on top of a wedding cake, joined in a form of bliss, if you know what I mean.  Ms. Bachmann was on … FoxNews … Tuesday, talking to Greta Van Susternen about the Tea Party’s role in the next Congress. This part was interesting, “VAN SUSTEREN: How is lame duck different behind the scenes from the other part of the session? BACHMANN: If you want my real opinion, the lame duck is awful. In my opinion it is unconstitutional. The 20th amendment passed in 1933 was meant to eliminate all future lame duck sessions. Congress didn’t want to see happen what is happening now. Consider, we are doing all of the spending, the tax bill, a nuclear disarmament treaty, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ they are trying to do amnesty for illegal aliens, all in a couple weeks. In other words, a year’s worth of work after the voters spoke at the polls. So the people spoke; they don’t want what is being passed in Congress. We shouldn’t be doing this. It is really against the 20th Amendment to the constitution.”

My apologies for not linking to this Tuesday.  After Congressman Keith Ellison lit into  Congressman Peter King (R-NY) for suggesting an investigation into the “radicalization of American Muslims” (i.e., “Why Do They Hate Us?”) John Hinderaker of Power Line went after Ellison:  “Apparently Ellison hasn’t noticed that radical Islam poses the principal threat to civilization in the 21st century. Lone left-wing nuts with ideologies like Ellison’s, like the guy [referring to the one who flew his plane into the IRS building in Texas], are certainly a concern, but they aren’t the reason why we have a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. Anyone who doesn’t understand that shouldn’t be a small-town sheriff, let alone a member of Congress. ‘McCarthyistic’ [sic] is one of those words that liberals think have magical powers. But let’s parse it. What, exactly, was wrong with the Congressional hearings with which McCarthy is associated?” You mean other than the complete fraudulence and fabrication of it all, the cost, the destruction of hundreds of careers and lives and the depth of paranoia it injected into the general population?