The Beginning of the End for Pawlenty?

Hardly anyone has noticed yet, but yesterday a Minnesota blogger may have put a fatal dagger in former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s hopes of winning the Republican nomination for President.

True North’s Andy Aplikowski is the modern-day Woodstein who reported a blockbuster yesterday that should make it much more difficult for Pawlenty to win the hearts of the hard-core right-wing activists who dominate the Iowa Republican Party caucuses.

Pawlenty’s sin? Cavorting on a boat like Gary Hart? Weeping like Ed Muskie? Bathroom stall tap dancing like Senator Larry Craig? Allegedly Tweeting his twitter to a young woman like Congressman Anthony “I kid you not” Wiener?

Much worse. Much, much worse. Once upon a time, it seems Pawlenty wanted help thousands of Minnesotans get health coverage for their families. I’m not kidding. There’s tape.

Grappling with actual policy making five years ago, it seems Pawlenty made complimentary — flirtatious even — comments about the core of Obamacare, the insurance mandate. In a political party that has since declared an insurance mandate to be a communistic crime against humanity, this audio sounds like Taps for Tim.

Aplikowski unearthed this blockbuster audio tape from an appearance on November 14, 2006 — a day that will live on in Timfamy. The tape, which is probably being distributed by Pawlenty’s opponents to Iowa activists as we speak, appears to document then-Governor Pawlenty expressing a desire to pursue universal coverage through an insurance mandate, much as Republican Governor Mitt Romney had recently done, to his ever-living regret.

Here is a transcript of Pawlenty during a discussion of health care reform (Warning: The material is disturbingly graphic, and may not be appropriate for young, impressionable conservatives’ ears.):

“I’m grateful for our friend from Massachusetts here. Governor Romney is an outstanding Governor. He is a unbelieveably bright and nimble and gifted public policy leader and Massachusetts and America have been well served by his leadership as well.

And so the question then becomes, if you’re going to require insurance, and I think that is a worthy goal and one that we are intrigued by and at least open to, how then do you enable people to access the insurance?

In Minnesota, as to the access issue, I believe we should move toward universal coverage. Everybody should be in a health plan of some sort. How we get there becomes important. I think a mandate by itself is potentially helpful, but it’s not an answer by itself. “

Helping families get health insurance through an insurance mandate? Given the current temperature of Republican Party activists on this issue, it might have been easier for Pawlenty to survive a bathroom stall revelation.

– Loveland

18 thoughts on “The Beginning of the End for Pawlenty?

  1. PM says:

    Why is it that things that make me think better of Pawlenty (both as a person and as a politician) make him anathema to the Republican Party? Sure, there are whackos who are Democrats, but are there really similar “litmus tests” among democrats like this? And, of course, the foolishness on the debt limit and no new taxes? Are there sane republicans left? *

    *(please excuse the rhetorical excess–i know that there really are sane republicans out there–they are the ones who do not need to win a primary in Iowa or South Carolina, or do not need to fear a primary challenge in their re-election bid)

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I know what you mean. When I hear Pawlenty in a more sane phase of his life, it becomes clear that Pawlenty Version 2011 is like an amiable and ambitious salesman selling a product that he knows is ineffective, but he sells it anyway to get ahead in life.

      But the fact that he’s smart enough to understand his product is ineffective makes me think less of him, not more.

      1. PM says:

        I don’t know–I think of the classic line that defense lawyers give, about having to defend their clients even though they know that the clients are guilty. It is a dirty job that needs to be done. Would you rather have a true believer (Palin/cain/Santorum/Bachmann) win the republican presidential primary, or someone like Pawlenty/Romney/Huntsman, who i think are just going through the motions?

        I thought this was a pretty good explication of the problem:

        http://pmcarpenter.blogs.com/p_m_carpenters_commentary/2011/06/george-wills-payback.html

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Decision 2012: Principled, clueless and wrong (Bachman,Santorum) v. Phoney, informed and wrong (Romney, Pawlenty).

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    Well, here we go. Michele Bachman hit Pawlenty about this quote on nationally syndicated talk radio today (from Daily Caller):

    “Prospective Republican presidential candidate Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann attacked former Minnesota governor and current presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, on The Laura Ingraham radio show Thursday, for his past “openness” to mandatory health insurance.

    “I believe we should move toward universal coverage, everybody should be in a health plan of some sort,” Pawlenty said in 2006 at a Health Reform Summit along side newly announced presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. “We have been studying very diligently the Massachusetts model and I am grateful for our friend from Massachusetts here, Governor Romney was an outstanding governor.”

    Pawlenty is opposed to Obamacare. Nevertheless, Bachmann told Ingraham it is important to remember how candidates have positioned themselves through the years.

    I think that is why it is so important when people are looking at the candidates, they have got to know who we have been throughout our lives and our voting history,” Bachmann said. “I have worked tirelessly here in Washington to oppose Obamacare and I have made it known publicly that I will not rest until we repeal this bill.”

  3. john sherman says:

    What’s worse you could do the same thing with cap and trade, which was Republican orthodoxy as recently as two years ago. They seem faithful only to bad ideas.

  4. Joe Loveland says:

    Count Huntsman among the Dead Men Walking in the 2012 Obamacare Litmus Test Primaries. Time ‘s Swampland blog and others are reporting that in 2007 Huntsman said, on video:

    “I’m comfortable with a (health insurance coverage) requirement,” Huntsman replies. “You can call it whatever you want, but at some point we’re going to have to get serious about how we deal with this issue, and that means there will have to be a multitude of different policies that are available in the marketplace. It means that it will be incumbent upon citizens to look more at responsibility, their own responsibility in terms of health and the choices that are made. It likely will mean that we’ll be in an environment with better prices, more options, more access and availability.

    There is a mandate today, let’s not forget, and it’s called the emergency room,” Huntsman says in the 2007 clip. “You show up in the emergency room and you get covered. And who pays the bills? Taxpayers pay the bills. Companies pay the bills. So we’re living today in an environment, to be sure, where there already is a mandate is in place. It’s whether you want to really make the system more efficient.”

    But in 2011, his campaign is backpeddling:

    “As Gov. Huntsman has said, he looked at a number of different options — including a mandate — assessed them good and bad and decided to put forth a free-market health care plan without a mandate…”

  5. Joe Loveland says:

    Meanwhile, Forbes updates us on the evils of Obamacare:

    The Health & Human Services Department had estimated that the changes in the law would result in about 1.2 million new enrollees in 2011. However, according to Aaron Smith, the executive director of a Washington based non-profit that advocates for the young, it now looks as if that number will be exceeded.

    This is very good news — particularly for those in the individual and small group markets that tend not to ‘self-insure’ as the larger corporations tend to do.

    It is also very good news for those of us who write a large check every month for our health coverage.

    For starters, every one of the young immortals we add to the rolls of the insured is one less young adult who will turn to the emergency room to fix a broken leg and then find themselves unable to pay the bill — leaving it to the rest of us to pay the tab.

    And it gets better.

    Because the under 26 crowd tends not to get sick, adding them to the insurance pools helps bring the very balance that was intended by the new law. The more healthy people available to pay for those in the pool who are ill (translation — the older people), the better the system works and the lower our premium charges should go.

    One cannot help but notice that the health insurance companies turned in record profits for the first quarter of 2011 due, according the insurance companies, to fewer people seeking medical treatment.

    1. Erik Peterson says:

      Was this the most impressive piece you could find Joe? It’s inescapably horrid. I don’t know how that escapes even those enthusiastically pro universal health care. Do I have to explain why its horrid?

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        Sure, please explain the horridness of broadening risk pools for everyone, cutting the ranks of the uninsured and reducing crazy expensive ER care. Please dumb it down for me, for I am simple minded. While you’re at it, explain your preferred plan for improving health care and cutting costs.

      2. Erik Peterson says:

        That’s not what I said. I say it’s a bad piece, a piece of low quality pap. It is that, undeniably. It’s not a ‘Forbes’ piece in any meaningful way. The guy is a lobbyist who puts his message out via that blog.

        Risk pools is the biggest dishonesty in that piece. Adding people under 26 is one thing, but you’re not strengthening the risk pool and the actuarials if the enrollees are not paying individual rates. They are undoubtedly not paying individual rates. They are being added as children on family policies. The guy is conflating to claim success.

        What do I think? I think everyone should pay a payroll tax to fund coverage for the un-enrolled.

      3. Joe Loveland says:

        I understand your point, Erik. You’re correct with regard to the addition of young adult children onto parents’ policies. But overall Obamacare does broaden the risk pool through the evil insurance mandate.

        And, yes, I should have said “Forbes blog” instead of just “Forbes.” The source article says “Content provided by Forbes” and I failed to click onward. On SRC, one gets what one pays for.

        I’m fine with your payroll tax mechanism for broadening coverage, as long as it is structured more progressively than current payroll taxes, which are very regressive. I’d want cost control reforms in the mix, but I assume you would too.

  6. PM says:

    Do Democrats demand ideological purity to the same extent that Republicans do? I really do not think so. I think that the ideological bandwidth among elected Democrats of all types is far, far greater than that among Republicans.

    Why is this? Are there institutional reasons (like the way that primaries are run) that account for the difference? Is there some sort of ideological difference between conservatives and liberals (purity is valued by conservatives while liberals think that diversity is a value) that accounts for this?

    What are your suggestions?

    1. john sherman says:

      I think it goes back to right-to-lifers. At one point there was a fairly strong right to life caucus in the DFL; the difference that emerged was that they were the absolutist caucus. A lot of the anti-abortion people operated like the other groups–teachers, labor, environmentalists, welfare rights–sometimes you won, sometimes you lost, sometimes you accommodated, but you soldiered on convinced that the net result would be better than the alternative, and you didn’t think the people opposing you were evil.

      However, there was a group whose basic view was our way or no way; they were self-righteous, absolutist and untrustworthy. Eventually, they got fed up with the DFL and migrated to the Republicans where they set the tone for what has come after.

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