AmSpec blog readers know about Tim Pawlenty’s wretched history as governor, not only in pandering to the greenies but seizing the mantle as an activist. He was an opportunist, plain and simple, abandoning whatever intellectual curiosity he might possess to dig at any level into the claims of the movement whose water he not only carried, but brought into his administration (by hiring the Center for ClimateStrategies to run his relevant policy).
And he never escaped this past, because it was a long-running version of Newt’s moment on the couch with Pelosi. And this is despite fairly aggressive, recent efforts to undo this past: Good.
Pawlenty saw this as beneficial to him, and championed dangerous rhetoric and policies in the name of advancing his political career and it came back to bite him. As a colleague has written me, although a fad, this is bigger, and more important than the year’s “in” tie color. “If one doesn’t understand that, he can be hornswoggled into anything, at home or abroad.”
You fall for the ‘pet rock’ because you want to fall for the pet rock, your instincts are to fall for pet rocks, or you see personal benefit in promoting the pet rock. It reflects judgment. It is a litmus test: judgment, yes, but in its current ‘green jobs’ incarnation it is also reflective of one’s understanding of the economy and the state’s proper role.
I say this trying to beat the mantra that the Pawlenty candidacy’s failure can be tied to his refusal in the first Fox debate to repeat to Mitt Romney’s face his “ObamaneyCare”. To hold water that would indicate he cratered after the duck. But he never got anywhere from which position he could crater. This despite an on-paper record that was otherwise quite strong.
Pawlenty’s pandering and political disappearing act is an object lesson that no longer will these people be able to get away with green activism or heavy petting, even if they then apologize for it. It sticks to you, because a larger number of voters now see that it reflects so much about you.