Selling failure as success

Imagine being hired for a job and being responsible, in part, for such a level of rancor and dysfunction that eventually you and your colleagues are unable to do your jobs. 

Now imagine using this experience as justification for a big promotion.

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Such is the case with the latest ad from GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota:

In an ad called "Results, not rhetoric," Pawlenty takes credit for not one, but two government shutdowns on his watch as governor of Minnesota. Rather than capitulate to union demands (eg, living wages and healthcare), Pawlenty stood his ground and let the government shut down once in 2004 and again 2005. Pawlenty is touting this "accomplishment" to ride the wave of positive press (in GOP circles, anyway) surrounding the recent shutdown in the same state. 

It's worth exploring the real-life repercussions of a shutdown. 

The Star Tribune reports on the latest shutdown:

At the Alexandra House, a women's shelter in Blaine that depends on state money, executive director Connie Moore has begun spending the shelter's savings to keep the doors open. The desperate move won't buy much time.

"We're gambling right now,' Moore said. "If we don't get reimbursed, the impact will be long-lived.'

In St. Paul, Rhonda Nelson, who is deaf and blind, just lost her eyes and ears to the world. The aide who helps her go grocery shopping, to doctor's appointments, to the post office and other appointments has been deemed non-essential in the state government shutdown.

For someone who already spends most of her days in dark silence, losing the service is heartbreaking. "I'm basically stuck at home," said Nelson, 65, a former disabilities educator from St. Paul, speaking through an interpreter.

Across Minnesota, the shutdown that began Friday is more than a story of inconvenience for the needy or vulnerable who depend on state services or spending. Many of their lives are being upended.

Pawlenty may not be responsible for this latest shutdown, but surely similar stories exist from the two that he helped cause. The ethical issues of a government shutdown aside, touting the fact that a work stoppage happened on his watch seems an odd tactic for Pawlenty's campaign. The legislature and the governor failed to do the jobs the people elected them to do, yet in this deranged political climate, this is an asset. Government has become such a repugnant institution to so many Americans, especially Republicans, that candidates for the highest government office in the land proudly advertise not their ability to govern, but their ability not to govern.

Perhaps Pawlenty is simply grasping at straws, as polls continue to show him ranking in the lowest tier in key primary battles. 

Michael J. O'Loughlin

 

 

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John Barbieri
7 years 3 months ago
While I don't live in Minnesota, I do believe that it has a legislature as well as a governor. Government shut downs are the fault of both. Personal attacks, like this article, exacerbate rather than illuminate.
7 years 3 months ago
The arguments in this post remind me of the rhetoric of John Edwards our venerable vice president nominee and twice rejected Presidential candidate.  He used the phrase ''Two Americas'' in an attempt to bring up emotional sympathy for a destitute America that no one sees.  Of course there are always people who get left behind and those influenced harshly by events, but such rhetoric always distorts reality and never gets at the real problem.  In this case a reality is that too much spending inhibits desirable expenditures for worthwhile causes both in the public and private areas.
 
Let me provide an example, from New York since that is where I live.  A tenured teacher who recently lost her job was lamenting not only her own lost job but of others and saying that more will be coming next year as the budget gets even tighter.  The teachers in her school districts have received generous raises over the last 10 years, much higher than the cost of living has expanded.  If the  teachers had taken a pay cut of just half of the raises over the cost of living, all teachers would be rehired and no new teachers would be left go.
 
So in Minnesota why does Mr. O'Laughlin not point to the public employees of Minnesota and ask them to take a pay cut that rolls back past pay raises to the cost of living increases.  I bet a lot of those services he is anguishing over will reappear as well as new government jobs and the people of Minnesota will have more money to spend on what they want and in the process create more jobs for the people of Minnesota.
 
These tired arguments are a staple of the rhetoric here by America authors.  Someone said not too long ago
 
''What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them—that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply''
7 years 3 months ago
"The ethical issues of a government shutdown aside, touting the fact that a work stoppage happened on his watch seems an odd tactic for Pawlenty's campaign. The legislature and the governor failed to do the jobs the people elected them to do, yet in this deranged political climate, this is an asset."

Might I suggest that it's possible to interpret the ad and its purpose as showing that Pawlenty, as an executive, engaged in tough negotiations and had to make tough choices, including the (largely lamentable) step of a government shutdown to get to a compromise?  That said, Pawlenty's campaign is failing at showing his true strengths - incredibly humble beginnings and a unique take on conservatism's role in job creation and governing.  Unfortunately he's running a conventional campaign for a conventional race.  That's why he's tanking in my opinion.

And I know the America bloggers will make sure to object to every single nasty ad the Obama administration is planning on run this fall, right?
William McGeveran
7 years 3 months ago
Public employees were fighting for a "living wage"??
ed gleason
7 years 3 months ago
Jeff L. is worried about nasty Obama ads in the fall. He and some other posters had better be more prepared for much more than nasty ads if the GOP/TP party shuts down the US government as they promise on 8-2-11. When the global economy panics and 401Ks drop 50%, people will get more than nasty. The GOP/TP weird hope that they can turn that crisis toward a Obama defeat in 2012 has to be the most desperate political plot in the history of our country. The true conservatives like ex-Senator Simpson and NYT columnist Brooks are trying to deter this stupidity but they are being called weaklings ..not one GOP/TP presidential candidate will yell 'STOP' because they think their useless campaign is more important. Romney will flip flop on 8-4-11 saying  "I was against the shut down all the time"      
7 years 3 months ago
Megan Mcardle made an interesting obversation yesterday (in the midst of otherwise excoriating the Republicans): the Democrats have no political incentive to make a compromise, either: Obama would likely be seen as the winner in a shutdown, the default would require massive tax increases and spending would go through the roof.  I don't see Harry Reid making it much easier to grease the rails to get a deal.

That said, I agreed with Brooks's column wholeheartedly yesterday.

PS - @ed gleason, I'm more concerned with objectivity and fairness than I am with nasty Obama ads.
7 years 3 months ago
This is an amazing political stunt.  Tim Pawlenty is very desperate and he realizes being proud of a government shut down will appeal to many right wingers or tea party types.  Of course Tim Pawlenty and family suffered no ill effects from such a shut down.   His critics claimed that his past budgets left much to be desired.  I guess they were right.
Michael Kelly
7 years 3 months ago
For an illustration of JR Cosgove’s comment (no. 2)
“In this case a reality is that too much spending inhibits desirable expenditures for worthwhile causes both in the public and private areas. …
 
“So in Minnesota why does Mr. O'Laughlin not point to the public employees of Minnesota and ask them to take a pay cut that rolls back past pay raises to the cost of living increases.  I bet a lot of those services he is anguishing over will reappear as well as new government jobs and the people of Minnesota will have more money to spend on what they want and in the process create more jobs for the people of Minnesota.”
 See “Union curbs rescue a Wisconsin school district”, by: Byron York, Washington Examiner, 6/30/11
 http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/2011/06/union-curbs-rescue-wisconsin-school-district
            The undeniable fact is, public employee unions that have practiced the politics of threat and bribery by means of unrestrained collective bargaining power – give into our unreasonable and burdensome demands for benefits and we will support your re-election; oppose them and we will run you out of office – have been stealing from the public and are responsible for budget crises that have endangered the safety net for the needy.

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