Gov. Tim Pawlenty has perfected the political backpedal over the past few months, pressing forward then pulling back on one issue after another. He started on topics like whether he’d sign an election certificate for the Franken-Coleman winner or accept federal stimulus money, then moved on to death panels, states’ rights to opt out of health care reform and a president’s prerogative (or lack thereof) to talk to schoolchildren. On Wednesday T-Paw tried a new trick: what Minnesota Democrats are calling a “knee-jerk” policy move, as he tries to catch up with the political momentum behind hating on ACORN.
Pawlenty ordered all departments of state government to immediately stop cash transfers to ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) – without apparent concern for whether the state actually funds the group. (It doesn’t.)
But the Republican governor was in a hurry to catch up with the critics, who by then included Minnesota’s U.S. senators (both Democrats). And Pawlenty, a presidential prospect, was within hours of getting pre-empted in castigating ACORN by a guy gunning for the job he’s willingly leaving: state Rep. Marty Seifert, a leading GOP candidate for governor in 2010. Seifert was pressing Pawlenty on the issue and had an anti-ACORN press conference planned for today.
Here’s an excerpt from the statement by Brian Melendez, Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party chair:
[T]he governor has leaped before he looks, clearly more concerned with scoring political points than with dealing in reality. Yesterday’s directive is just the governor’s latest knee-jerk political reaction to the topic du jour. While the governor’s action might make sense if the state actually had any dealings with ACORN, it’s not too much to expect that he find the answer to that simple question before he tries to leap into executive action.
It’s bad enough that Governor Pawlenty has begun moving closer and closer to Representative Michele Bachmann’s extreme right-wing ideology. But now he is even adopting her tactic of making politically expedient claims without any factual basis. If the Governor continues to abandon Minnesotans to pursue his national ambitions, and keeps jumping at every nonsensical chance for political opportunism, then he will share yet another trait with Representative Bachmann – total ineffectiveness.
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