Is Pawlenty for Real?

Power Line has consistently held that Tim Pawlenty is the best contender for 2012, a questionable premise to say the least. Pawlenty has always seemed out of touch with everything going on outside of his state, and in a large part unconcerned with national politics. True, he supported Hoffman in NY-23, but only gave his support at the last minute. Indeed, when first asked about NY-23, he professed ignorance. Living in Minnesota is no excuse. I don’t even live in the US, do not get an English-language newspaper, and have very little access to US news outside of CNN, yet even I seem better informed of where the hot-button issues are.

Of course, the same could have been said of Palin a year ago–that she was ill-informed. However, there is a difference. Palin has a passion and authenticity that Pawlenty doesn’t seem to have. It is unrealistic to expect busy people like governors to be on top of every national issue, especially when most of these issues do not affect their state. Indeed, a governor that was up on all these issues would be so only if he were a news junky, or if he were running for something, and frankly I’d prefer to have a governor who was minding the store rather than planning his next move. However, even if uniformed about all the ins and outs of things happening on the national stage, a governor should at least care about what is going on nationally. Given Pawlenty’s performance at CPAC, it is hard but to believe that he only became interested in national politics–that he only started to care–when he decided to form an exploratory committee for a run in 2012. This does not speak well of him.

Here is a clip:

This makes a great soundbite, but in many ways is insulting. He appears to want to speak to the Tea Party crowd (at CPAC nonetheless)–to be one of them–yet does not know the lingo. Is the Tea Party really about taking golf clubs to the federal government, or about fixing what is wrong and calling a stop to the madness? Is he really angry about what is going on, or is he just saying things to get support? And if he is really that angry, where was he a year ago? Why has he waited until the 2012 political preseason to speak up?

Pawlenty continued in the speech with this gem:

“When you listen to the elites and the pundits talk about the tea party movement, when they talk about us conservatives, they may not always say it explicitly, but implicit in their comments is, ‘Maybe they’re not as sophisticated because a lot of them didn’t go to the Ivy league schools,'” he said. “‘They’re from places like the heartland. They don’t hang out at chablis drinking, brie eating parties in San Francisco. They’re a little rough around the edges. They don’t dress like us. They actually enjoy shopping at Wal-Mart and Target. Sam’s Club Republicans.”

Sorry, but this is just pandering. It is everything that is wrong with the GOP, and has been wrong for more than twenty years. If Pawlenty understood the Tea Party movement at all, he would know that there is much more to what is going on than merely class resentment–a large segment of the population feels ignored except at election time, and disenfranchised by politicians who say one thing and then do another–who pander just to get in power. This dysfunctional situation is bipartisan in nature–the GOP is no better than the Democrats. Pawlenty waved the bloody shirt, offered up red meat, played the populist card, and threw in the proverbial kitchen sink with all its hoary cliches, but did not speak to this dysfunction in the least. Not only did he not connect, but he acted like he thought everyone listening was a fool. Not good.

Sorry Power Line, Pawlenty still seems little better than Romney, and getting a new speechwriter won’t help. (And no, no matter what you say, Romney is not a conservative.)

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