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Keeping up with Pawlenty’s Facebook meeting was a tough task for a limited multi-tasker like me

Watching the governor’s online meeting made it clear to me that you had to be a multi-tasker: Hear one thing, see another, digest both. My old eyes kept drifting to the interesting viewer comments crawling down the side.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty held a Facebook “town hall meeting” Wednesday evening. He promised a major announcement.

But what was it? 

It’s never been more clear you gotta be a multi-tasker. Move fast. Eyes everywhere at once. Hear one thing, see another, digest both.

So much was going on.

There was the governor, squeezed between the American flag on his right shoulder; the Minnesota flag on his left. He was dressed casually for this first-of-its-kind (for him) event, blue shirt, open at the neck. Behind him there was a bookshelf filled with a lot of important-looking books, one binding showing a picture of Abraham Lincoln, who was just above the governor’s left shoulder. No Holy Bible in sight, but there was a carved elephant for all to see.

The governor was on the left side of the computer screen, speaking calmly, borderline monotone, and his hands were always moving.

But what was he saying? Where was the big announcement?

Maybe MinnPost needed a younger reporter on this assignment. A multi-tasker.

My old eyes kept drifting to the right side of the little Facebook screen, where viewer comments were crawling down the side. Crawling fast, too, I might add. But they were so interesting.

“I’m beginning to like Tim Pawlenty more and more,” read one.

It moved down.

Another comment replaced it: “Glen [sic] Beck/O’Reilly ticket.”

Down the side of the screen it crawled. Another fresh comment appeared.

“Vote Gary Cutler for Hays County Sheriff in Texas.”

 The comments kept coming and coming. Faster and faster. This must have been how Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz felt on that chocolate candy assembly line so many decades ago. Except, instead of chocolates, there were messages.

 “Can we survive three more years of Obama?” 

But then, there also was the governor. Talking and talking and moving his hands. A reporter really should pay attention to his governor. After all, he promised to make an important announcement.

“I’m not concerned with how popular our president is in Europe,” he was saying at one point, in answer to some Facebook friend question.

My mind and eyes drifted again, to those damned messages: 

“I lost my stream.”

Whoa. That sounded serious.

“My streaming is out, too.”

Nobody seemed too concerned about the stream problem.

The governor kept speaking.

What’s my assignment? What’s the announcement? What’s going on here?

 I looked at the governor, squeezed between those flags. He read another question:

“How do you feel about amnesty for illegal immigrants?”

“We are a nation of immigrants,” the governor said, “… but it needs to be legal. I do not support illegal immigration.”

Mind drift again:

“Lindsey Graham is a RINO.”

“Keep our country free and safe.”

Fast, really fast — a half-hour had passed and the governor was saying farewell.

“We’re going to wrap up,” he said. “This has been a new adventure for us. …”

The messages kept crawling down the side of the screen:

“Do it again!”

“Thanks, Gov!”

“This was great!”

“Gov. Pawlenty you are a breath of fresh air in these times of smoke and mirrors.”

“Well it was nice for awhile until the liberal trolls started showing up.”

The governor was still talking.

“Remember our Freedom First PAC,” he said, explaining where his Facebook friends can go to find it so they can contribute.

Then he was gone.

Oh, that was it. That was the “major announcement” the governor had promised. Early in this Facebook town hall, he’d announced that his PAC was contributing to the congressional races of four Republicans — in Illinois, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These apparently are great candidates. Believe in the Constitution, apple pie, etc.

But the governor invited those participating in the Facebook town hall to nominate other candidates they think his PAC should help.

“It’s not just a few of us in a room deciding who to help,” Pawlenty explained.

So that was the major announcement.

And the messages just kept on coming:

“Thank you Vikings”

“Thanks. 30 minutes is not enough. Most in GOP clueless on tech.”

“Maybe if we applaud long enough we’ll get an encore.”