Will Pawlenty Regret Becoming the Tea Party Candidate?

April 8th, 2010 at 10:35 pm | 5 Comments |

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Tim Pawlenty appeared with Sarah Palin at a Minneapolis rally for Rep. Michelle Bachmann yesterday.  A throng of conservative voters turned out, health filling the entire floor of the convention center.  Sean Hannity also attended the event, find and concluded it with live interviews, first of former Governor Palin and Rep. Bachmann, and then Gov. Pawlenty.

Palin and Bachmann were adamant about dispelling fears about the current conservative pushback following healthcare.  Palin made an effort to address the controversy over the “we’re not going to retreat, we’re going to reload” slogan, saying that people “know their arms are their votes.”  The two were very enthusiastic about discussing the budgetary problems the U.S. is facing, and about demonstrating that the Tea Party movement is the new face of conservatism in this country, and that it has come about in part as a result of problems related to the budget, and the sweeping progressive reforms currently being undertaken by President Obama.  Regarding those sweeping reforms, Bachmann was optimistic that Obamacare could be repealed in February 2013.

Pawlenty followed the two by discussing first his lawsuit against the new healthcare bill.  After the bill was initially passed Pawlenty requested that his Attorney General, a Democrat, file suit.  Pawlenty argued that the bill was unconstitutional.  The Attorney General declined to file suit and she would file a brief in support of the new bill, but gave Pawlenty the green light to file suit himself.  He has decided to do just that, remarking that:

We live in a country now, where the federal government is going to say to us individually.  You either buy a good or a service or we’re going to fine you, and by any definition: constitutional, common sense, that’s an overreach.

Some have speculated whether Pawlenty’s joining Palin and Bachmann is a sign that he’s throwing his hat in with the Tea Partiers.  This is an interesting point to consider, as it would have major implications for his image in the lead-up to 2012.  Not too much should be read into this appearance however, as he is first and foremost supporting a fellow Minnesota Republican, and a very popular one, both within the state and across the nation.  Still, it raises the interesting question of who will make the strongest effort to absorb the Tea Party into their voter base for the 2012 primaries?  If Palin does not run there are really no obvious choices.

Pawlenty has staked out fiscally hawkish positions that would put him in good standing with Tea Partiers, proposing a balanced budget amendment (although he hasn’t been discussing it much lately), and saying that the country needs to cut taxes and grow the economy.  He has also said in the past that he believes Medicare is a good program and that it should not be touched.  These statements are popular with fiscal conservatives and Tea Partiers.  However, these two statements are also entirely irreconcilable.  There is no balanced budget without entitlement reform, period.  This reflects the startling paradox facing any candidate looking to tap into Tea Party votes.  You can say you will give them what they want, but you can’t actually give it to them, because they don’t want it.

Pawlenty is a true budget hawk who knows the realities of the country’s problems.  If a GOP leader as smart and down to earth as him has to stake out territory as untenable as what he has signaled above, then the GOP is not out of the woods yet — not even close.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • chicago_guy

    Pawlenty, like Mark Kirk in Illinois, is simply another Republican midwestern moderate who has woken up to the fact that they’re the last ones on the reservation. And, like Kirk, rather than standing proudly for what they believe, Pawlenty is desperately chasing after the Tea Party/Palin wagon, scared as hell that this really IS the Republican party these days and that failing to jump on the wagon is tantamount to suicide.

    Pretty sad, when the pants in the Republican party are being worn by a couple of nitwit ditzes like Palin and Bachman.

  • SFTor1

    Bachmann is worse than Palin, by a hair.

    But as they say in Norway, that is weighing s**t on golden scales.

  • msmilack

    To Chicago_guy, I disagree that Kirk is standing up for what he believes — although I believe that was true at the start of his campaign; since then. he has surrendered his personal beliefs to those of the “Club for Growth,” which threatened to remove their support if he did otherwise. I find that surrender a great disappointment.

    What disturbs me about Pawlenty, aside from his recent pandering to the Tea Party, is his invocation of God in a speech in February where he made the rather bizarre statement that “God’s in charge”: I don’t recall God being on the ballot, and last I looked, the separation of church and state was essential to our democracy.

    As far as Pawlenty joining the rally with Bachman and Palin, what can I say? To me, those two women are like the Furies: mean-spirited, incendiary in their irresponsible use of violent language, and consistently wrong or untruthful in their statements about others. Don’t you remember Bachman telling people to reject the census because it was a government conspiracy? When someone pointed out to her that without the census, her district would likely disappear and she’d have no constituents to represent, she grew suddenly silent on the subject of the census. Bachman is the queen of projection: whatever is actually true about herself, she projects onto opponents, ludicrously at times. (E.g. that the racist insults hurled at US senators during the healthcare vote which at first she denied (there was tape of it, so she had to let go of that), she then blamed on them walking in front of the protestors (she called it an “affront” because blacks and whites walked together) when in fact, it was Bachman herself who an hour earlier had stood on the balcony to encourage the protestors below; she held up a sign that read “KILL” (as in “kill the bill”). I find it hard to imagine how any thinking person takes either woman seriously so for me, anyone who chooses to be identified with them instantly loses credibility.

    I prefer an elected official who is smart, well-informed and has the best interest of the country at heart. That describes neither Palin nor Bachman and lately — because of his willingness to pander to the Tea Party through Palin and Bachman — Pawlenty as well.

  • ktward

    If a GOP leader as smart and down to earth as him has to stake out territory as untenable as what he has signaled above, then the GOP is not out of the woods yet — not even close.

    Indeed. But I do get it.

    Even the farthest right of the far right thinkers recognize bad strategy when they see it:
    Those Tea Party activists who feel that everyone must be ideologically pristine and identical are no students of history if they compare themselves to the brave men and women who won us our freedom. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both pivotal political figures in the Revolution, disagreed sharply on many political issues. Ben Franklin, who would have been considered a RINO Whig until very late in his political career, said after the Declaration of Independence was signed that “we must all hang together, or we shall all hang separately.” What Franklin was acknowledging, of course, was that this Tea Party of 1776 in Philadelphia was anything but united.

    America won independence and established our Constitution by uniting, in a common goal, very diverse groups. The Constitution was riddled with “compromises.” Thoughtful men accept honorable compromises. Those who wanted to break the colonies into squabbling factions were the British.

    The Tea Party activists who wish to splinter conservatives will insure that the conservative revolution fails.

    So, Pawlenty’s seems the new tactic for otherwise sane Republican candidates: pander to this single but very squeaky wheel on the GOP bus in attempts to prevent complete disablement of the Party.

    Such a tack could manage to prevent a Third Party spoiler scenario, but back in the real world they’ll lose the votes of most everyone but Party purists. That may work out okay in Party-engineered districts, but on a National level? Not a chance. Heck, even on the State level it’s likely to prove fatal to the GOP candidate in the GE (with some obvious exceptions.)

    Nothing to say but, ‘Good luck with that.’

  • forkboy1965

    Strange…. I seem to recall a time in the not too distant past when Republicans enjoyed calling out many Democrats (elected or running for office) as being chasers of the polls, meaning they would change their plans/policies/ideas based upon which way the polls blew. Isn’t the same happening now for the likes of Pawlenty and many other Republican politicians?

    The difference being that the wind in this instance is the Tea Party movement.

    But stranger still is that Republicans are chasing after an extreme right-wing view of socio-economic and political issues. Instead of chasing the Center they are chasing the far-Right. I cannot see how this is good for public policy in the slightest.