Pawlenty Takes Aim at the GOP

February 14th, 2010 at 10:48 pm | 14 Comments |

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Oh, the Republicans had their shot not long ago to address the real needs and concerns of everyday Americans, and they blew it. I think that’s mitigated by the fact that we had a terrorist incident, there is a war, and there was a lot of proper focus on those issues, but over the time that they were there and had the leadership opportunity, they blew it. We got fired for a reason.

–Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty has come out guns blazing in a new interview with Esquire.  Temporarily shelving his talk of Ponzi-schemes and balanced budget amendments Pawlenty instead focused on talking about himself, his experience in Minnesota, and making an honest – and very critical – assessment of his own party.

When asked what went wrong with the GOP, Pawlenty was candid, “they didn’t do what they said they were gonna  do” he remarked.  Pawlenty framed politics in market terms, asserting that the GOP didn’t produce the product that consumers wanted, so they purchased products from their competitors.  He even went on to observe that, although Republicans have made significant gains in recent special elections those who voted for Obama are “not necessarily back to supporting Republicans, but they’re available for us to persuade, and that’s a huge opportunity. Our opportunities for 2010 are tremendous.”

Perhaps more significant was, finally, Pawlenty discussing himself.  Who he is.  What circumstances he came from.  How he came to identify with his politics.  These details have been entirely absent in his previous forays, which featured tough sounding rhetoric that often fell flat and sounded unconvincing.  Pawlenty tied his experience as a blue collar suburban youth to his understanding of what people want and how to govern those wants in a sensible way.

This is probably Pawlenty’s best national showing to date.  He has finally taken a tough, independent – I will avoid the word “rogue” – stance inside of his own party, distancing himself from the failed ‘have your cake and eat it too’ record from the past administration.  He has also done this without going to his bread and butter slogans from the past several months.  Can we expect him to drop these slogans and bolt in this new direction?  Probably not, but if he can begin to maximize this kind of exposure, he will at least provide vital substance to those just learning about him, when they come to take a closer look.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Churl

    Sounds like Pawlenty has sense enough to say what the Tea Party activists want to hear. Let’s see if he convince them that he believes it.

  • sinz54

    I just read the Esquire interview with Pawlenty.

    In it, he casts doubt on the idea that the U.S. economy would have collapsed without TARP. Well, I think it would have. We were facing a collapse of the financial markets of a magnitude I hadn’t seen before in my lifetime (since I was born after the 1930s). But I’ll bet that if Pawlenty had been President, he would have seen things differently from his vantage point inside the Oval Office.

    I also think that the Esquire interviewer, an obvious admirer of Obama, should have refrained from grandstanding on Obama’s behalf. (“Well, it could be said that the president’s numbers are eroding because he’s presuming to do large things, and that always hurts your popularity whether the policy itself is ultimately popular or not”) An interview is not an opportunity for the interviewer to debate with the interviewee. Nobody cares what the interviewer’s political views are.

  • balconesfault

    An interview is not an opportunity for the interviewer to debate with the interviewee.

    And thus, the great Frost-Nixon interview is dismissed.

    In other words, you believe that interviewers should simply act as stenographers, and not challenge any statement by the subject, no matter how far fetched?

    I’ll bet that you really don’t believe that.

  • PracticalGirl

    At this point, all Republican would-be-Presidential-candidates have analyzed the polling data that reflects dissatisfaction with the GOP, even among its rank-and-file. Kudos to Pawlenty to, as Churl pointed out, telling the folks what they want to hear. Will that last? Probably not once he remembers where his fundraising bread is buttered.

  • COProgressive

    I guess Pawlenty has come around to the Joe Scarborough/P.J. O’Rourke way of thinking………

    “The Republican Party has ceased to exist as a viable political party…….They are NOTHING!  NOTHING!  The biggest threat, maybe, to the Republican Party is that they actually see that (Brown’s win in Mass.) as an endorsement of their NOTHINGNESS!” – Joe Scarborough (R-FL) January 18th 2010

    “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.” – P.J. O’Rourke

    The Repuggies have yet to show me that they can walk the talk. From the “Compassionate Conservative” who was neither all the way back to “Saint Ronnie” who “proved deficits don’t matter” it’s been one snowjob after another as the Repuggies have embraced Class Warfare and have been picking the pockets of Americans and kicking the can of paying the bills down the road for my kids and grandkids to pay.

    Now, I start to hear from Repuggies like Cantor their heartfelt concern for our kid and grandkids being left with huge debts to pay. Give me a break! Just look and any graph of the Nation Debt and it’s plan to see just who the “Borrow & Spenders” are. At least the Dems will increase taxes to pay for their spending, and not just put it on the Repuggie Chinese Express Card.

  • kevin47

    “And thus, the great Frost-Nixon interview is dismissed.”

    As depicted in the movie, yeah.

  • LFC

    After shuddering at Pawlenty’s budget nonsense, I now see him showing a more reasonable and conservative (no, endless tax cuts are not conservative) viewpoints. Is this the real Tim Pawlenty? It sure sounds more like the guy I heard described several years ago.

    I think if he’s smart, he’ll wait until 2016. He’s young, the Limbaugh / Beck / Palin insanity will be in full froth in 2012, and 2016 should be a better environment for a center-right GOP nominee to win the primary. If he does run, I’ll try to ignore his primary rhetoric (he may still have to tack hard right to win that fight first) and see what he actually campaigns on for the general election.

    I think if he and Romney could just stop the wingnut pandering, they could be very viable Presidential candidates to the big swath of independents out there.

  • kevin47

    In addition to opposing tax increase, Pawlenty has opposed new spending, which is tough in a nanny-state like Minnesota.

    As for waiting until 2016, he has been hearing the “wait four years” thing since 2004. He waited in 2008, playing ball and hoping for the VP nomination, which didn’t come.

    His “center right” status won’t hurt him. He is popular with conservatives in Minnesota, as was Mitt Romney in 2012. If and when his nomination becomes a real possibility, the liberals will be quick to paint him as a rube, a lunatic, or both. The “center right” moniker will disappear from media coverage. All without any substantial change in rhetoric or policy initiatives.

    The biggest factor in his success will be whether Huckabee can reclaim momentum. Both sort of occupy the same head space as evangelical Christian governors who are open to compromise.

  • sinz54

    LFC: I think if he’s smart, he’ll wait until 2016.
    If Obama appears vulnerable in 2012, Pawlenty will take him on.
    So will Palin and Romney.

    Sharks always gather when they smell blood in the water.
    When Carter appeared vulnerable in 1980, he attracted four GOP challengers.

  • SFTor1

    Palin is going to take on Obama in 2012? Did she graduate from finishing school?

  • GOProud

    “Sharks always gather when they smell blood in the water.
    When Carter appeared vulnerable in 1980, he attracted four GOP challengers”.

    Actually, the better 1980 lesson is when JimmineyCricketCarter –the worst president of the modern era– was challenged by fellow Democrat TeddieK for the party nomination that should have gone by default to the sitting president.

    If TeddieK’s reputation inside Washington had been a tad better, he’d have bounced Carter out of office for the nomination… but the Carter folks promised to disclose TeddieK’s predatory sexual antics if needed –a disclosure that would have made the recently revealed antics of John Edwards look pale by comparison.

    The better comparison would be if Obama continues on his well-deserved downward slide who inside his party will threaten him in 2012? I’m betting all those PUMAs would love to whoop some Obama butt… along with a lot of moderate, non-radicalized Democrats who see their party falling like Humpty Dumpty from the King’s wall.

    We can probably start taking orders for scrambled eggs.

  • GOProud

    “Palin is going to take on Obama in 2012?”

    Only in the limited, highly prejudiced and wishful minds of the trolls on this site. Palin isn’t running for the nomination in 2012.

    It’s going to Romney without a significant contest. Those who do enter the GOP fray in 2012 will be doing it as a far-fetched testing ground for 2016… far-fetched because in 2016 it’ll be Romney for the GOP again at that point -as the sitting President going for his 2nd term.

    Palin’s best opportunity is the pathway that Newt Gingrich has shaped for himself… just like Jack Kemp did… keep active in the public arena, make millions, tease all on your intentions, make more millions.

  • LFC

    Actually, the better 1980 lesson is when JimmineyCricketCarter –the worst president of the modern era–

    In 2000 I would have agreed with you, but you’re obviously forgetting the last administration which by every measure (failure to stop 9/11, failure to get bin Laden, failure in Afghanistan, failure to achieve most goals in Iraq, failure to regulate financial systems resulting in a worse economy than under Carter, etc.) was the worst in my lifetime. With a name like “GOProud”, I can understand why you’d want to forget George W.

  • GOProud

    Not at all LFC. The point wasn’t about a President like W who led because it was the correct and morally right thing to do… as opposed to 8 yrs of SlickWilly leading with his other head… or the Obami not leading anywhere.

    The point you missed, no surprise, was that Obama’s threat in 2012 won’t be coming from the GOP… it’ll first come from his own Party trying to dump him like the sack of dead weight he represents… just like TeddieK tried to push out the failed presidency of JimmineyCricketCarter in 1980.

    1980 is instructive, buddie-bo; not W.

    Bush won the primary in 2000 easily. He won the election with some controversy that poor sports and ill-suited partisans seem intent on reliving each day. He wasn’t contested in 04 and he kicked FlipFlopKerry’s butt all the way back to Boston.

    I don’t want to forget W or Cheney or Rumsfeld. They were some of the last patriots we had serving in those positions of leadership.

    Where do I send your complimentary sticker, LFC?