“I’m a dinner jacket.” That’s how someone instructed Tim Pawlenty “the other day” to say the name of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the governor told his weekly radio audience Friday morning. The presidential prospect also tried to show he’s no empty suit on international affairs, twice pronouncing an Iranian nuclear-weapons program a certainty.
Pawlenty is in line with conventional conservative wisdom on that, but out of step with one of the state’s leading experts on Iran. University of Minnesota anthropology Prof. William Beemon told Minnesota Public Radio this week there’s no evidence that Iran is trying to manufacture nuclear arms.
As for the governor’s sudden interest in pronouncing the names of foreign leaders correctly … who could have been prodding Pawlenty on that? Maybe it was some the new advisors for his Freedom First PAC who don’t want to see their presidential hopeful repeat the pronunciation struggles of their old bosses, President George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. John McCain.
Pawlenty, who keeps his passport current with international hobnobbing, corrected sidekick Brian McClung’s pronunciation of the Iran leader’s name.
But, as sometimes happens, the governor was also slightly off his upbeat game, offering a couple unhelpful interjections during the show’s opening patter about football rivalries with Wisconsin. McClung suggested Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle might “defect” and move to Minnesota.
McClung: He’s not running for another term.
Pawlenty: Neither am I.
McClung then tried to defend Minnesota against a Doyle jab (“We’re all intrigued by what ‘Minnesota beer’ might be,” Doyle said, a comment Pawlenty termed “fairly snarky”):
McClung: Minnesota is one of the great brewing states in the country.
Pawlenty maintained his three-week streak of trashing (but not naming) Republicans who participated in a budget summit that the governor boycotted last month. Again he used his radio platform (now secure from DFL balance) to attack former House Speaker David Jennings, also a former Minneapolis school superintendent. When enrollment declined in Minneapolis several years ago, Pawlenty said, “leadership in the district at that time didn’t act very boldly.”