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.
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