That Gov. Pawlenty; what a card


We all know Governor Pawlenty aspires to live in the White House. He’s made no particular secret of this. We also know Pawlenty is a frequent conservative critic of President Obama’s public policies. Long-time Pawlenty observers are equally familiar with the governor’s fondness for the snarky insult. I’m thinking of his “put down the fork and step away from the table” shot at progressive legislators, but Pawlenty’s targets are many and varied so feel free to recall a different example.

Given his tireless pursuit of President Obama in states other than Minnesota, you’d think, with President Obama’s Saturday visit, Governor Pawlenty might tone down the shots and class-up his welcome. Given Minnesota’s request for federal flood assistance not so long ago, you’d think the Obama visit would provide the governor with the opportunity for gracious thanks and pleasant greetings. Instead, we got Pawlenty’s smug wit.

In a You Tube video posted Friday, Pawlenty raised passive-aggressive confrontation to a new, Jedi-skills high. He lectured the president, blithely skipping over the pain and disruption that he, Governor Pawlenty, has caused Minnesotans over the past eight years, insinuating that his actions form a state template for national policy change.

Public data don’t support Pawlenty’s contention but that doesn’t stop him from pitching more of it. The Pawlenty conservative policy plan is propelling Minnesota backwards. We’re sliding down when we should be moving up.

Introducing the Minnesota patois –“patois” is sort of like “dialect” except that it describes non-standard language and the meaning it communicates – Pawlenty explains “uff da” and “not so much” while bashing the president for a recession-driven unemployment rate created by conservative public policies and for passing health care reform that will improve coverage while lowering costs. Clearly, the governor was quite pleased with himself but he skipped a core Minnesota value revealed in common language: the polite disagreement.

Minnesotans disagree with each other all the time but being cooped up together over long, Midwestern winters reinforces our Scandinavian cultural capacity to forge community despite our differences. We’ve developed an artful phrase that efficiently communicates discomfort without personally attacking the speaker. So, watch the Pawlenty video again, smile politely and declare, “Well, that’s different.”