People Like Me Talk Too Much

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty was on THE DAILY SHOW the other night. The poor guy was only there to promote his obligatory pre-candidacy book, but Jon Stewart kept trying to move beyond, to ask the governor whether he found that the rhetoric had been dialed up a scosche (thank you, Bill Fisher, for that word, which I still remember from Telemedia days and never use without thinking of you!) since President Obama took office. A gentleman, and appreciative guest, Pawlenty strove to convey the fact that lefties had rhetorically whipped Dubya’s ass just as heartily. I felt for him.

Pawlenty is one of the very, very few Pubs I’d actually applaud on Inauguration Day. He seems to be thoughtful. Mr. Knee-Jerk in my head sez: “dude, remember ‘compassionate conservatism’? Bill Clinton, who can smell a trend, thought that phrase was bitchin’, and look how that turned out!” But I still can’t imagine Gov. Pawlenty would stick up his hand during a Pub debate and say he doesn’t “believe in” evolution. If I’m mistaken, then I respectfully retract all of the above.

But he walked into the lions’ den and got it right. It’s true that red-state media are pumping like they never have before – it’s time to give up the tired complaint that electronic media are biased toward the left, because they just ain’t any more! – yet Sarah Palin’s silly online “blood libel” frizzle (my guess is that she had no earthly idea what she’d just said, may still not know) proved that you still have to deal with reality.

Were Gov. Palin’s crosshairs really “surveyor’s tools”? Heck: you make the call! Do citizens who remain stung by what they view as a stolen 2000 election, all these years later (imagine what kind of Wagnerian rage the surviving Pubs are still repressing from 1960!), have any platform of legitimacy to criticize demonizers on the right? I have never heard any sitting president vilified like this one, beginning with the dishonorable feebs in that joint-session audience, which was the frickin Congress – but there I go again. It’s easy to say: the country got a black guy, so the GOP got itself one too. When the country’s black guy started to look vulnerable, the Pubs felt they could safely get rid of theirs. But that’s just me. I read George W. Bush’s book DECISION POINTS. It’s self-aggrandizing, one-sided (he was “blindsided” three or four times by lesser souls who worked for him), but you have to hand him this. He viewed AIDS in Africa as the enemy it is. When Kanye West insulted him by saying he didn’t care about black people, Bush was right to take umbrage. Some of his advisors may well have advised, “Katrina affected only Democrat voters, and if they leave, Louisiana becomes a red state,” but that’s not what is in the heart of a guy who committed millions to sub-Saharan Africa.

Yes, it’s hot in here. I wish it weren’t. But it is.


9 Responses to People Like Me Talk Too Much

  1. Tom Dupree says:

    From Robert Harland via Facebook, with his permish:

    Fair point about Bush. He also tried to come up with a more workable resident visa system and (gosh) even a path to citizenship for “illegals”. He was a poor president insofar as he was not able to get much done in terms of legislation or simply doing something and doing it well, but racism is not the same thing as ignorance or incompetence. Note: I don’t like Reagan either, but he did get a lot more done than Bush in his two terms whether you agree with it or not.

    I would also note that Bush employed at least as many visible minorities (Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Alberto Gonzales) as the current one (test: after Obama name a minority member in the current Obama cabinet).

  2. debooker says:

    I don’t disagree with much of what you have said, but if you look at the past Republican U.S. Presidents, the one who probably had the most intellect, George H.W. Bush served one term. Why, because he honestly didn’t get the evangelical religious folk. That’s not to say all or even most evangelicals are stupid. But if you don’t do contrition before the alter of Intelligent Design and a second contrition before the alter of Intelligence (as in lack of), you ain’t going to get the Republican nomination for president, and if you do, you’re probably not going to get a large segment of the Republican base to turn out. So, Pawlenty may be as intelligent as you say, but if so, that’s already a strike or a strike and a half against him. Minnesota may want an intelligent Republican governor; I’m not sure Mississippi does. And if a Republican can’t pull the South, he (or she) can put his or her head between his or her legs and kiss his or her aspirations good-bye.

    And as for Palin, that only underscores my point, and if you are right and she was not aware of the force of the words “blood libel” when she used them, then that further underscores my point and Intelligence, as in lack of. And if she did know, then she is further polarized the well of discourse and lining up the evangelicals (or trying to) on her side.

  3. Rob Harland says:

    @debooker. Re: Mississippi. Mississippi unfortunately DOES have an intelligent governor. Haley Barbour founded one of the most successful lobbying firms in DC, is a former RNC chair and once advised the Reagan administrator. He and his entourage are masters at playing a room of people. He just looks stupid because statements he makes which would be outrageous to voters from elsewhere are only outrageous to a minority in Mississippi, and the state votes him back in.

    If he had really wanted to run for president or even VP, then yes, his recent comments on the Civil Rights era in Yazoo City are spectacularly stupid. They are also untrue — see:–One-Mississippian%E2%80%99s-thoughts-on-Haley-Barbour%E2%80%99s-comments?instance=special_coverage_bullets_right_column. But in the context of regional politics it alas works for him, and he has a consistent record of saying things in the same vein.

    Old school Southerners have a habit of making statements like this, with an option on retracting, apologising for, or “clarifying” them afterwards. I am not sure if they believe them, but I fear they are a “dog-whistle” tactic, assuring their base (I’m not sure they believe it either) that they understand their viewpoint. And the base turns out for them.

    Hanlon’s razor advises “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”. The trouble with Barbour is precisely that he isn’t stupid, and should know better if he wants to impress people outside of MS or stick to the truth about race relations in Mississippi. But it seems to have become a habit and in local electoral terms at least, even an asset. He might have persuaded himself that his views are not malicious, but I do find them very cynical and uncaring.

    • Tom Dupree says:

      I think Barbour might have trouble on the national stage because he looks and sounds like Foghorn Leghorn — the stereotypical bombastic Southern politician. He’s actually among the shrewdest guys the Pubs have: that cornpone thing is just an act, not unlike George W. Bush’s “cowboy” persona. But first impressions mean a lot.

      Palin read the phrase on the WALL STREET JOURNAL op-ed page, and must have thought it sounded vaguely cool, and it must be OK if they used it. I’d be surprised to learn that she was aware of the dog-whistle meaning to nutty anti-Semites when she first said it.

  4. debooker says:

    @RobHarland. I only ask that you don’t confuse shrewd with intelligent. The two may overlap, but are not the same thing. I have met shrewd people who were not that intelligent and very intelligent people who were not very shrewd. And if I have to choice between the two, I’ll take the intelligent minus the shrewd. But just because Barbour is shrewd doesn’t mean he is intelligent.Barbour may be a shrewd governor, and your examples tend to point that out, and he may have been a shrewd RNC chair, but that doesn’t mean he was very intelligent, just as I don’t think George W. Bush was that intelligent. He wasn’t a dummy, but I don’t think he was intelligent.

  5. debooker says:

    Intelligent = above the norm in intelligence. Very intelligent = way above the norm.

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