“Conventional wisdom says you can’t talk about ethanol in Iowa or Social Security in Florida or financial reform on Wall Street,” Pawlenty said. “But someone has to say it. Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people.”
Did you happen to watch Jeopardy! last night? Celebrity Favorite Books, as told to video by the Celebrities themselves, and Pat Sajak says Atlas Shrugged.
Publicist's decision? Or do you really mean that, Pat? I mean, really? I know the category said "Favorite" not "Best"--at least that's how I remember it--did you just have to remind us you're A Conservative in Hollywood one more time? Because you're a man of wealth and leisure, Pat, and, seriously, if that's your favorite book you're a walking condemnation of your end of the political spectrum and financial success. Did you happen to notice that every other Celebrity kinda chose something bright? Have you noticed if these sorts of Andy Rooney digressions on my part are on the increase? I have some concerns.
Anyway, once again, mutatis mutandis : there were the presidencies of James Earl "Malaise" Carter (conservo-moderate Democrat in the mid-70s), and Bill "Sister Souljah" Clinton, co-founder of the DLC; and there were the campaigns of John Anderson (liberal Republican in 1980), Mike Dukakis (L-word, 1988), Ross Perot, and Howard Dean and Ron Paul, and while you might point out, correctly I believe, that there's only three Presidential terms among 'em, Dukakis got out-slimed, not bested on debate points, and Anderson and Perot ran remarkably successful independent campaigns despite being doomed from the start. It suggests that maybe there's room out there for someone willing to level with the American people. Not that that person is Tim Pawlenty.
And not, really, that it was any of those others, excepting Anderson; most just happened to occupy some space which, enhanced for campaign purposes and fortunate in its choice of time, won some primaries, pulled in some cash, and got them a podium in a Presidential debate.
For that matter the current President has done a pretty good job of telling his base stuff it doesn't want to hear, although he mostly did that sotto voce and underneath their mooncalf lowing during the primaries, and only got loud about it later.
In Republican circles, now--and well I realize that in Republican circles the accepted practice is to see Republican circles not as Republican circles but, rather, as the boundaries of the intelligent universe--yes, "leveling" with the American people is a mite risky. At least we have to suppose it would be, if anyone ever tried it. It's certainly possible to be a ranging dingbat and say whatever th' fuck comes to your aluminum-mottled brain in those parts, but that's because no one's really listening to you. Plus the stage is too littered with the corpses of the fallen who questioned Republican orthodoxy or the supremacy of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be absolutely certain about what's down at the bottom somewhere. Where's the Republican who'll even mention the role incontinent tax cutting for the wealthy has played in the Budget Holocaust? Or the Republican record on balanced budgets? Or the full incomprehensibility of our "Defense" posture for the last sixty years? Where's the Republican Pro-Choice caucus meet?
For that matter, where's the Republican Presidential candidate in 2011 who'll stand up and defend his previous support for gay and lesbian rights?
It ain't Tim Pawlenty. Fer chrissakes, his speaking Unpleasant Ethanol-flavored Truth to Iowans (where he presently has nowhere to go in the polls but up, towards possible recognition) amounts to endorsing Chuck Fucking Grassley's position. The next word Tim Pawlenty says that disconcerts a Wall Street banker will not only be his first; it'll be clarified by the following morning. Republicans are stuck with their stance on Social Security and Medicare; the whole party's insisting that it amounts to a Brave Stand Against Political Reality, when, of course, it really amounts to more corporate analingus. No Republican's gonna be able to run away from that, despite Florida's reputation for deciding our Presidential elections.
Really, isn't it enough that the well-heeled Mitch Daniels already tried this routine? And failed? "I'm a very unattractive candidate; so anyone who votes for me is showing uncommon intellect." The problem, marrow-deep, with that is you're still a fucking Republican after all this time. Your party has been taken over by David Brooks. Not the base, not the power, but the Voting Soul, the Electability Quotient. Pawlenty and Brooks are about the same age. Reagan was a godsend, and his Accepted Miracles must be adored; whether the reality sunk in at the time, or hit in middle-age, there is now a sort of squishiness at the edges about the whole fearful screaming plunge into the Goldwater Abyss, brought to you by Exxon-Mobil, Smith Barney, Smith & Wesson, and your local Coca-Cola™ bottler. You're willing to compromise, so long as the basic Reagan/ Milton Friedman/ Theoretical Bible-Believin' Teevee Preacher Who Did Not Get Caught With A Boy Hooker tenets govern every compromise. It's likely that, in the real world, you'd extend reproductive rights to every woman, personally, and cut military spending to something resembling semi-reasonable, but there's no way you're saying that in print. You will not quite admit that the disaster which has befallen us, the malaise that once delighted you with its sound (even though you had to invent Carter saying it) is a direct result of that Reagan worship and those Goldwater programs. Mitch, of course, was older, an established pol already when Reagan was elected and his man Dick Lugar got bupkis, no State Department, no Cabinet seat, just an Enjoy Your Lifetime Senate Appointment, Bub, and fellow Hoosier Bill Ruckelshaus got a six-year-delayed steel dildo full-throttle up the fundament for having given Nixon the finger during Watergate. Nixon! Mitch and his boss watched as the California gang extracted compensation for Republican apostasy, even though it had been aimed at taking down Dick Fucking Nixon and meant nothing (or nothing besides patriotism and good sense) anymore. And then they watched as Reagan re-instituted Cold War insanity at a time when we knew Soviet military spending was about to, well, tank. That had to make an impression on young Mitch. Because five years later he was Reagan's political advisor.
And nobody's gonna convince me that after the third cocktail Dick Lugar, or Mitch Daniels, thought this was a great idea, or that Iran/Contra was just one of those realpolitik deals. They saw where the party was headed and they got on board. For Reagantots I'm not sure morality ever really entered into it, except maybe as a winning slogan.
And this is what you got. A generation of pirates, followed by a generation of True Believers who still insist, in public, that the Saucer'll be here for them any day now. They can't control the Republican party like they usta. They can raise millions, they can live comfortable personal lives even by Republican standards, but they can't govern, and they can't renounce the deal they made with Old Scratch thirty years ago. And they're never gonna be speaking to truth to anyone about anything, until the time comes to admit to an affair.