Will the real Tim Pawlenty please stand up?


The nice puff piece on Gov. Tim Pawlenty in the “Sun newspaper”:http://mnsun.com/articles/2006/08/26/news/ea24pawlenty.txt is clearly not designed to delve into Pawlenty’s politics, but it says alot about Pawlenty’s brilliance as media-maker.

The piece (which I believe was dredged up from the archives) describes Pawlenty as a guy who mows his own lawn (gasp!) and even buys groceries, a guy who praises Eagan as a place where “we have a normal life.”

This is vintage Pawlenty: Son of a truck driver from South St. Paul who remembers his working-class roots. A regular guy who likes to play hockey and run marathons and watch the Vikes. Just the kind of guy you’d like to have as a next-door neighbor.

Here’s what Pawlenty doesn’t want regular voters to know: He was a highly paid criminal prosecutor before going into politics whose wife makes six figures as a district court judge. The two of them pull down more than $200,000 a year in their jobs. In other words, Tim and Mary are high-achieving yuppies who have more in common with Kenwood or Lake Minnetonka lawyers than with anybody they might run into at Rainbow.

But, for some reason, the media love to portray politicians as regular guys. It’s not just Pawlenty or Jesse before him. Remember the way the press used to write about Rudy Perpich driving around the state and stopping to help folks change their tires? It was always Rudy the Iron Ranger.

Perpich may have been a Hibbing dentist before he got into politics, but he was no hick from the Range. He was a cosmopolitan, a guy who was quite comfortable in the company of highbrow thinkers and European political and business leaders.

So we shouldn’t blame Pawlenty for spinning the media on his real identity, I guess. We should demand that the media dig a little deeper (as Tim Penny did today in the “Strib”:http://www.startribune.com/562/story/636547.html to look at the performance behind the personality.

As Penny pointed out, Pawlenty has done little to fulfill his campaign promises of four years ago, raising taxes and fees, gutting the state’s health insurance program, and cutting education funding. All these decisions illustrate where Pawlenty’s allegiance lies—and it’s not with the “regular folks” with whom he likes to identify himself.