DFLers everywhere are muttering to themselves about the fact that Governor Pawlenty’s approval ratings have reached an all-time high in the wake of the I35W bridge disaster.
In their minds, the bridge collapse is a powerful symbol, if not an outright manifestation, of the crumbling infrastructure they have warned about through five budget cycles of his “no new taxes” pledge.
So, why is the Governor encountering admiration rather than admonition?
Theories abound. 1) Citizens are simply rallying around their leaders during a time of crisis and rebuilding, and the Governor is the natural person to rally around. 2) The public admires the Governor for “putting aside politics” and switching his position on gas taxes to “git er done” when it comes to deteriorating bridges and roads. 3) Some citizens are ill-informed and don’t know that the Governor has been opposed to many proposals over the years to increase road and bridge funding. 4) The Governor is tracking perfectly with the public — opposed to the gas tax before the disaster and more supportive after — so they can hardly be mad at him when his flip-flop is their own flip-flop. 5) Pawlenty is a very talented pol and has played his bully pulpit role masterfully. 6) Pawlenty opponents have been unable to turn up the heat on him because every time they try they are accused of being politically opportunistic “finger pointers,” when they should be helping the community heal.
All of the above, I say.