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 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.