Republican Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial campaign is a string of lies and pandering, a regular runaway political freight train. It only under those terms that his campaign makes sense.
I’m not talking about misstatements of fact, misunderstandings, differences of opinion, not knowing at the time, fibs, or any of the other euphemisms we use for not telling the truth. I’m talking about plain, unvarnished, bald-faced lying and it’s companion, pandering, done for personal gain.
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Four examples, two of each, will prove my point.
A few weeks ago, in the now famous ‘servergate’ incident, Emmer declared, in an attempt to shore up his asinine proposal for servers taking into account their tips in determining their minimum wage, that he knew servers who made over $100, 000 annually. He quoted “so-and-so.” When the media asked “so-and-so” about that, he denied every having told Emmer any such thing. Like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar, Emmer had told a bald-faced lie.
About the same time, on June 15, Emmer made a shocking statement on the Midmorning program on MPR: “Spending has almost doubled in the last decade in this state.” However, according to Minnesota 2020, who did the math correctly (taking into account increased state population and adjusting for inflation), “state general fund spending has grown by 5.1% from FY 2000-01 to FY 2010-11. This translates to an average annual growth rate of one-half percent.” Again, Emmer lied.
Near the beginning of his campaign, about the time the now-infamous Arizona anti-immigration bill was signed into law, Emmer declared the law was “a good start” toward solving the immigration problem. The only people to whom the Arizona law is “a good start” on solving the immigration problem are the very ignorant, racist, xenophobic people, like himself, to whom he was pandering when he made the statement. No responsible student of the immigration problem believes such an approach will do anything but make matters worse. To quote Molly Ivins: “Show me a thirty foot high wall and I’ll show you a thirty-one foot long ladder!”
But my last, and most heinous example of all, is Emmer’s proposal not to tax veterans’ pensions as incomes. Speaking as a Vietnam-not just Vietnam-era-vet, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that this is pandering to veterans to gain votes. It is bad enough that we’re lied to when we’re recruited; that we’re treated as cannon fodder during our term of service; that we come home to woefully inadequate care for treating our war scars. But to be pandered to for a vote raises to an entirely new level the abuses that have been and continued to be inflicted upon us. Even for Tom Emmer that’s a new low!
Everyone, including Emmer, is entitled to their opinion, but not their facts. He is entitled to be of the opinion that servers’ minimum wages should be re-figured based on certain criteria and that state government is too big. He is not, however, especially as a candidate foor the state’s highest office, permitted to lie to defend those opinions. Further, since “character” is seen these days as a legitimate consideration in voting for a candidate, honesty and integrity, not just sexual hi-jinx or financial hanky-panky, should be part of that consideration. For the reasons I’ve stated above, Emmer fails this test.
Five million people live in Minnesota. Surely the state’s GOP, if they were a responsible political party (and that in itself is a big “if”), could have chosen someone other than this pandering liar to be their standard-bearer. That they chose Emmer says more about the GOP and Emmer than I want to know.