Pawlenty of Reasons for Governor’s Teflon

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.

– Loveland

4 thoughts on “Pawlenty of Reasons for Governor’s Teflon

  1. Lark says:

    Nobody can lay a glove on Pawlenty because it’s difficult to discern what he stands for. Joe Six Pack likes politicians like that.

  2. kayakbiker says:

    Maybe it’s because the voters haven’t read the latest Strib article reporting that “officials talked openly about the possibility of the bridge collapsing — and worried that it might have to be condemned.”

    Maybe they didn’t follow that Pawlenty named Carol Molnau, his Lt Gov, to be transportation secretary. That department has 4500 employees and an annual budget of $2 billion , and she has no background in that area, except for her advocacy for no new taxes. By hiring Ms. Molnau, a high school graduate, Pawlenty saved the state the salary of the transportation secretary (108k), but what was the cost?

  3. bbenidt says:

    The governor, like many politicians, is good at weasel words — the art of the verbal coverup.

    Asked about how Pawlenty justified his switch on “no new taxes” after the bridge collapsed, a spokesman said these are “extraordinary circumstances.” Sounds reasonable. A responsive public servant changes when circumstances change and isn’t doctrinaire. So Pawlenty seems reasonable.

    But that word “extraordinary” covers up very adroitly the fact that bridge and other infrastructure maintenance are the very definition of “ordinary.” My dad said you paint the house not just so it looks good but so moisture doesn’t get in the wood and cause rot and structural damage. So you paint the house regularly (although not well, in my case). If you don’t paint the siding, and it rots and then rainwater seeps into the house and ruins the carpet and rots the floor joists, that’s not an extraordinary occurrence. It’s a failure of stewardship.

    The Pawlenty weasel word has painted over rot.

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