It’s a post-T-Paw world
Like everyone, I’m certain you are shocked that Tim Pawlenty could not translate his record of balancing budgets and fixing health care in Minnesota into a viable presidential candidacy.
Reaction to T-Paw’s decision to pre-empt the inevitable was furious. At the Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Weisman and Neil King Jr. write: “Pawlenty said his message of conservative governance in Minnesota simply wasn’t resonating in a year when the Republican electorate is looking for more fire and confrontation. The desire among many Republicans for a candidate with sharp ideological edges has also hurt Mr. Romney, as some remain leery of his past embraces of abortion rights and his backing of a Massachusetts health law similar to President Barack Obama’s national law. ‘What I brought forward,’ Mr. Pawlenty said, ‘I thought was a rational, established, credible, strong record of results, based on experience governing.’ “
Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post says: “The lesson that Pawlenty’s struggles taught us is that the Republican primary electorate is less focused on someone who produces results based on compromise than someone who is willing to take the fight to President Obama always and everywhere. Voters, particularly Republicans, are mad about the direction of the country and are not in a compromising mood. Misunderstanding that sentiment cost Pawlenty his chance to make a serious run for the nomination. Those who are still in the race won’t make that mistake.”
Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly writes: “Pawlenty struggled to raise money, saw his poll numbers evaporate, faltered in debate performances, ran on an electability platform that didn’t resonate, and found himself easily eclipsed by fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann, who proved far more effective in generating media attention and enthusiasm from right-wing activists. The poor showing in Ames, coupled with Rick Perry’s entrance into the race, left Pawlenty with no realistic shot at the nomination. Rather than pursue a vanity exercise, he wisely chose to cut his losses. It’s tempting to ask where Pawlenty’s support will go now that he’s left the race, but in truth, he had so little support, his departure won’t really affect the race in any meaningful way. And with that, the graveyard of great-on-paper candidates — Bill Richardson, Phil Gramm, Bob Graham — gets another member.” A club that includes Phil Gramm … now that is cold, man.
Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Strib says: “As Pawlenty eyed the White House, he worked to shed his low-key, son-of-a-truck-driver image in exchange for a profile that could appeal to Republicans further on his right. He scuffed off his support for environmental programs, which looked too green to many in the GOP, rejected some of his earlier positions on health care and took on an angrier tone than the one that marked his gubernatorial years. While he was first eyed as presidential material when he won a second term in 2006 when most Republicans fell, by appealing to moderates and independents, he waged a campaign that pushed moderates and independents aside. He appeared to attempt to breathe more fire into his speeches, even adopting a seemingly Southern accent in one appearance. None of it worked.” So now, it’s “Ah’ll see y’all around, y’hear.”
Mark Zdechlik’s at MPR writes: “One of Pawlenty’s problems was that he tried to be all things to all Republicans, said political scientist Dennis Goldford of Drake University. ‘At first he seemed to try to come across as a mainstream establishment candidate that was more conservative than Mitt Romney,’ said Goldford. ‘Since January or February of this year he started emphasizing themes that were much more in line with the tea party and religious conservatives, he sounded more of those populist themes.’ When Pawlenty was compared to Bachmann, the populist rhetoric didn’t work, Goldford said, so Pawlenty went full circle back to his position as an establishment candidate.” I’m not so sure about that “full circle” business. By my calculations, T-Paw covered maybe 45 degrees of the dial.
At Power Line, our local conservative bellwether, the residents have nary a word to say about Pawlenty, with whom they had previously expressed regular admiration. John Hinderaker turns his attention to Our Favorite Congresswoman (and the winner of the “all-important” Ames straw poll) and her treatment on the Sunday Beltway chat shows. He writes: “What is it with this obsession with gay marriage? The president has little or nothing to do with the issue, which will be decided by state legislatures. And I can’t think of a single serious presidential candidate from either party who has ever gone on record as favoring gay marriage. Bachmann’s position on the issue is the same as Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s. So why don’t reporters pepper Obama with hostile questions on gay rights? (Put aside for the moment the fact that Obama rarely answers questions from anybody.) The answer, presumably, is that reporters don’t believe Obama when he says that he opposes gay marriage, while they do believe Bachmann.”
Bloomberg’s Albert Hunt looks at Bachmann’s victory and writes: “Almost no leading strategist of either party envisions the possibility of a President Bachmann. The conventional wisdom is that she’ll soon be eclipsed by the entry into the Republican field of Rick Perry, the conservative Texas governor. In Minnesota as in Washington, however, it’s usually been a mistake to underestimate her. The prospects that Bachmann will win the nomination are slim, but the odds that she’ll help shape the race and the agenda are much higher.
Novelist Richard Greener, writing at The Huffington Post, says: “Why then is there all this coverage — of Iowa — on TV? The answer is the same one you get when, befuddled, you ask why do we have so many of these faux-reality shows like Housewives Of (fill in the blank)? Where does all this awful television come from, and why? You see, the monster that is commercial television never sleeps. It never even rests. It can’t even close its eyes for just a moment. It runs at full speed for all 168 hours every week, 52 weeks a year. And something — in many cases anything at all! — has to fill those hours. Some kind of programming must be there to slip itself in between the commercials. Nowhere is this more evident than in news programming and nowhere in news programming more so than the cable news channels. You don’t still think CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, plus all the others with less familiar initials, are in the News Business, do you? They — and all of commercial television — are in the Advertising Business. The constant demand, the primal scream is for ‘content’! There’s only so much sports and weather. And lately nothing seems to make for better, easier and more convenient content than the sheer nonsense of the Ames Straw Poll.” It’s just me, but I think “The Real Housewives of Ankeny” would be more fun.
And finally, an item with (almost) no relation to Ames, Iowa. Mary Divine of the PiPress reports that if it can get a go-ahead from D.C., MnDOT is prepared to start work on the controversial Stillwater bridge … this fall: “MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel said that his agency is closely watching events in Washington and that a Sept. 30 deadline set by the agency for federal authorization for the project could be extended. ‘It seems like they might be getting closer to a resolution, and we don’t want to be a barrier to that by any means,’ he said. ‘I think we’re probably the closest here we’ve ever been. As soon as we get the word, we’re ready to go.’ “