Do as I say (and ignore what I’ve done): Tim Pawlenty reinventing himself


by Jeff Fecke • My governor, Tim Pawlenty, has been a regular media gadfly during the Republican Governors’ Association meetings. He’s had the combover line and the less ideology, more doing line, and he let loose with a rebuke to Sarah Palin, saying that “Drill, baby, drill” was just a slogan. If you didn’t know anything about Minnesota’s governor, you might think he was a decent, pragmatic guy who was willing to stand up to his party’s orthodoxy.

Those of us who live in Minnesota, of course, know better. Gov. Timmy has not been willing to buck his party, not at all. He’s still refused to sign a tax increase during his six years in office, going so far as to veto a transportation funding bill that passed in the wake of the I-35W bridge collapse because it had a gas tax attached to it. Jeff Rosenberg has a nice roundup for those who’ve forgotten some of Timmy’s greatest hits, like the time he line-itemed funding for the central corridor transit proposal that he’d supported, just to stick it to the DFL.

Pawlenty is no less beholden to the social conservative wing of the party; while Pawlenty is not his wife, former Judge Mary Pawlenty, she’s well-regarded in the conservative evangelical community, and Timmy’s done nothing that would make the Palin wing actually reject him. He’s been appropriately anti-gay, vetoing the 2007-08 omnibus state departments appropriation bills because it allowed benefits for domestic partners. He also signed a pledge supporting an anti-gay marriage amendment — doing so along with its primary supporter, then-State Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater.

His former law partner, now Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson, was praised by LifeNews as a pro-life advocate. And he was a big supporter of the “right to know” act, which requires women in Minnesota to read a packet of material before having abortions because, you know, women don’t think of such things; the first materials issued by the Department of Health included previously debunked claims of an abortion-breast cancer link.

His first commissioner of education — one ultimately defenestrated by the DFL-controlled Senate — was Cheri Pierson Yecke, who pushed unsuccessfully for including soi-disant Intelligent Design theory in Minnesota’s standard curriculum.

And let’s not forget this gem from the 2006 State GOP Convention:

I can tell you what your worst nightmare is. It’s one of the big-spendin’, tax-raisin’, abortion-promotin’, gay marriage-embracin’, more welfare-without-accountability lovin’, school reform-resistin’, illegal immigration-supportin’ Democrats for governor who think Hillary Clinton should be president of the United States.

So yes, it’s nice to hear Tim Pawlenty sounding like Arne Carlson. But talk is cheap. And Gov. Timmy has spent the last six years governing much more like Sarah Palin than George H.W. Bush. And if he ends up as president, I suspect he’ll model himself on a different Bush, one who talked a good, bipartisan game during the campaign – and governed from the hard right.