It took ’em long enough. But the national news punditocracy seems to have gotten up to speed on our guy, Tim Pawlenty. Among the more aptly descriptive impressions of T-Paw on a competitive national stage was Chuck Todd of NBC describing Mr. Courage to Stand as, “a boiled noodle”. To that any Minnesotan can add: Soft, mushy and flavorless.
Why it took six months of political barn-storming to achieve a perspective on a guy so transparently calculated and self-serving, I don’t know. But hell, like George W., he got himself reelected. (In Pawlenty’s case I hope he is still sending Christmas cards to Peter Hutchinson and all the purist liberals who couldn’t hold their nose for Mike Hatch. BTW: How are your property taxes and the health of your schools?)
Not to play seer here, but Pawlenty’s act always struck me as far (far) more cornball pose than retail-level legislative skill. Reliably, he said what a tough, titanium-spined conservative would say. But invariably his closing move was some ridiculous sleight-of-hand … “shifting” education appropriations, “unallotting”, taking Barack Obama’s big fat stimulus check he had been righteously denigrating only days earlier. Transparently weasley stuff. Spit-take cynical stuff. Which led many of us to look upon T-Paw long ago and paraphrase Gertrude Stein: “There’s no there, there.”
But it worked in the shallow pot that matters most to him, the GOP base that has gotten itself so drugged/drunk/delusional on the myth of Ronald Reagan — Marlboro man, John Wayne-ish Western icon, rock-ribbed Cold Warrior, tax cutter supreme — that it appears to have lost the ability to recognize what the vast majority sees quite easily, given time and exposure. And that would be … not steely determination mated to the ability to bind the country together to face some harsh truth, or foe … but a boiled noodle. Something weak and slippery. Something you can digest if you wanted, but given any other choice at all, why would you … really?
And it isn’t just Pawlenty. The “boiled noodle” problem, the manifestly less nutritious than they claim issue afflicts nearly every … single … one … of … them. Each has hollowness on a vital issue, a matter of fundamental credibility, that renders them a preposterous absurdity to everyone outside the zealot core. And while people like Sarah Palin have proven that you absolutely can exploit the untempered credulity of the base and gain national prominence, literally everyone else sees you for the clownish twit you are.
Mitt Romney? The Obama team has to be salivating at the opportunity to make Romney defend his actions as head, or leading beneficiary, of Bain Capital, essentially a corporate raider investment scheme indistinguishable from marauding Wall St. banks — that is also directly responsible for literally thousands of lay-offs as it moved about “right-sizing” companies in pursuit of (Mitt’s) shareholder value.
The freshly arrived Jon Huntsman? The guy may be coherent on foreign policy, (which is more liability than asset with the GOP base), but … really … another billionaire’s son who’s going to talk to Main Street about sucking it up and “trusting us” on trickle down economics?
And lets discuss: Two multi-millionaire Mormons among the GOP’s “credible three”? With evangelicals and Rapture types controlling caucuses and house parties?
Then after them … the whole self-aggrandizing Bachmann, Gingrich (Gingrich! Good lord man, sneak away before even the Wall Street Journal opinion page is too embarrassed to run your deep-thinking commentaries), Santorum, Herman Cain and Rand Paul parade … please. This isn’t even an attempt at serious competition.
Even locally, the scent of flop sweat among Minnesota Republicans has gotten pretty dense as we grind toward the shutdown, the lay-offs of tens of thousands of state workers, a resulting mini-recession and the public’s full realization that this — collapse of order — was the only outcome of the GOP’s delusional ideologies ever truly possible, given a DFL governor. There is no poll in the land, (not by a wide margin), and not a single large or small town paper that I’ve read that offers the GOP anything approaching unconditional support. Everyone knows who to blame.
The local GOP’s wall-to-wall investment in “boiled noodle” candidates hyping base-inciting “boiled noodle” logic and making transparently pathetic assertions that they are the compromisers has already fallen like a millstone into a deep lake.
Secretly, I suspect, as I’ve said before, traditional Republicans/traditional conservatives (not the “I’m above everything” Libertarian weenies) probably see a kind of apocalyptic crashing, clearly as a result of the lack of depth and serious thinking of “boiled noodle” theatrics, as a cleansing opportunity for the party.
The problem is that rest of us, who recognized this retrograde nonsense from the get-go, are collateral damage … again.