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Tag Archives: Tim Pawlenty

Being the chief executive of a state government is the best on-the-job training you can get for being the chief executive of the Federal government.  Many of the same elements are in play; budgetary concerns, legislative relations, muckraking opponents, the press, and a hundred other mundane challenges that the average person never hears about.

Sarah Palin had the opportunity to gain more executive experience – heck, she had the job! – and she just blew it off.  This is a problem for Palin’s fans and a boon for her detractors because Palin (to date) has given no coherent reason for her resignation.  The most likely reasons for the resignation seem to be that (1) She was unable to adequately perform the duties of her office due to the numerous (bogus) ethics complaints and attendant investigations pending and (2) She hopes to cash in on her fame by selling a book and/or giving speeches.  Unfortunately for her, Palin hasn’t personally gone on the record stating (1) and her ex-future-son-in-law has gone on the record theorizing (2).

Expanding on my theory that gubernatorial experience is the ideal training for the presidency, let’s look at Palin’s potential competition for the Republican nom in 2012:

  • Mike Huckabee served one half-term (appointed) and two full terms (elected) as governor of Arkansas. 
  • Tim Pawlenty is serving out his second term in Minnesota.
  • Haley Barbour is serving out his second term in Mississippi.
  • Mitt Romney served one full term in Massachusetts.
  • Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has less experience as governor than Palin, but by 2012 will have surpassed her.

In this sample group of sixRepublican prospects, Palin will come be the least experienced executive come 2012, and she is no longer gaining experience.  At the same time she is tied for the least legislative experience, with none.  Please, Palin backers, don’t try this at home.  Touting her mayoral experience won’t cut cheese with me.

I’ve waited this long to express an opinion on Sarah Palin’s resignation because I kept thinking that there’s more to it, that there’s a statement or revelation forthcoming that will make it all make sense.  But that isn’t happening, and if hasn’t by now, I don’t think it will.

It’s over, Sarah.  You were a longshot, but you still had a shot.  And now you’ve blown it.

It looks like all the chattering knuckleheads of the commentator class were wrong about Tim Pawlenty (yours truly included), and John McCain has chosen Sarah Palin of Alaska to be his running mate.

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin

One of the first and most widespread Democrat responses to this selection has been to disparage on the basis that “if McCain were a real maverick like people say, he would have picked someone unconventional, like Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge.”  This is an obvious false argument; to select Lieberman or Ridge wouldn’t make McCain a maverick, it would make him a contrarian.  And McCain is too prone to compromise to be considered a contrarian.

The other popular response from the dems is to run down Palin’s experience.  This is a definite non-starter, since her executive experience (mayor of Wasilla, governor of Alaska) dwarfs Obama’s (zero).  Say she isn’t ready to be president if you like, but she’s much more experienced and more qualified as a #2 than Barry is as a #1.

Red State says it’s Pawlenty, and shares some pro-Pawlenty talking points. http://www.redstate.com/diaries/redstate/2008/aug/28/mccains-vice-president-tim-pawlenty/

Bob Geraghty of The Campaign Spot says he’s being told by a source that Pawlenty is indeed McCain’s choice, but is skeptical. http://campaignspot.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NTAyYWU0MmVhNGUzMzhiNjhjZDQ2ZGIwNWZiMzhlODM=

Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty

A number of other commentators have predicted, either supportively or plaintively, that Pawlenty is likely to be announced as McCain’s running mate on Friday.  (I predicted that it would be Pawlenty two days ago, and along with everybody else I’m either going to look pretty smart tomorrow…or I’m going to look pretty foolish.)

Those who support the choice of Pawlenty point to his background, his achievements, and his personality.  Those who oppose seem to fall into two camps: those who are farting sour grapes because they wanted Romney, and those who don’t like the pick because they don’t know anything about Pawlenty.

The Romney-ites get their answer first: Romney lost to McCain, he was a bad candidate, McCain doesn’t like him anyway, so get over it.

To everyone else I say this: It doesn’t matter what you knew about Pawlenty yesterday or today.  It only matters what you will learn about him tomorrow, and how his presence helps the McCain campaign from now till November.  John McCain has known Pawlenty for twenty years, and McCain likes and trusts him.  Some of the virtues that matter the most to McCain, loyalty and honor, have been cultivated in Pawlenty for these twenty years.  Ultimately, being the independent spirit he is, McCain will need someone he trusts to be loyal, to be honorable, to be trustworthy, and to be competent.

That’s it, I’ve convinced myself.  Not only to the point of certainty, but so much so that I’m convinced that my certainty is certainly justified: Tim Pawlenty is going to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008.

John McCain with future vice president Tim Pawlenty

John McCain with future vice president Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty is a conservative Evangelical Christian with a compelling “poor-boy-makes-good” story, legislative and executive experience, and a good reputation.  He’s been elected as a conservative twice in a majority-liberal state, and he’s quick with an answer and (usually) clever with a quip.  Pawlenty has been a personal friend of McCain for more than twenty years, he has been a loyal McCain supporter since the very beginning of McCain’s campaign (he was the co-chair of McCain’s exploratory committee) and he stuck with McCain even during the darkest hours of the campaign when his staff was abandoning him for Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.

It seems that lately the chatter about potential Republican veep candidates has centered around the runner-up and second runner-up in the Republican contest, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.  But neither man is likely to get the nod.

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee

Despite frequent praise and compliments during the campaign, McCain isn’t going to name Mike Huckabee because Huckabee is scorned by the fiscal conservative establishment and the East Coast intellectual class.

And despite the demands of the fiscal conservative establishment, McCain isn’t going to name Mitt Romney because he already knows that Romney is a man without honor – and honor is important to McCain.  Romney is a plastic man, a man without principles, who only turned conservative in his late fifties when he began to eye the White House.  Besides, Romney wrote the book on how to waste millions of dollars while losing an election.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Pawlenty will be a darling of conservative Christians and he can pick up many of the Southern voters who would otherwise have voted for Huckabee.  Pawlenty came from humble roots (unlike Romney) to put himself through college and law school (unlike Romney) and has legislative experience (unlike Romney).  Like Romney, Pawlenty ran for governor in a liberal state and won, but he did it by campaigning as a conservative (unlike Romney).

It would be a great public relations gift for McCain to announce Pawlenty as his running mate at the national convention in St Paul – the capital of the state that Pawlenty has been governing since 2002; the networks would have a irresistible opportunity to fawn over a new name and a fresh face in an adoring environment.

If you happened to watch McCain on Jay Leno’s show on August 25, you saw him praise Pawlenty (when Leno asked specifically about Pawlenty) by calling him a great governor with whom he has ideals and principles in common.

Final clue that McCain plans to pick Pawlenty: Pawlenty has already been designated as a featured speaker on the final day of the Republican convention.  Seriously, John McCain, this is no way to keep a secret!

Here’s a rundown of some possible Republican vice presidential candidates and why they won’t be picked.  Bear in mind that this article doesn’t represent a prediction, but an analysis.  Prospects are named in alphabetical order:

Charlie Crist – Because of the slick metrosexual image he projects, Crist won’t appeal to a large portion of the meat-and-potatoes Republican crowd.  The too-tan skin, the snow-white hair and the waxed eyebrows are just too much for most regular guys, even if they do appeal to some fractional portion of the female conservative electorate.

Mike Huckabee – So many religious conservatives are demanding that Huckabee be added to the ticket, it just might provoke McCain’s contrarian nature into giving Huck the old heave-ho.  There’s also the concern that having two gaffe-prone white guys on the ticket is too risky in the age of the modern media, where every mistake and mispronunciation is published on a million blogs and websites within hours.  Huckabee has a fantastic future ahead of him, but it may not include the senior Senator from Arizona.

Kay Bailey Hutchison – Hutchison is no spring chicken at 65 years old, and she has said publicly that she doesn’t even want the job – she’d rather be governor of Texas.  There’s also the little nitpicky fact that Hutchison is a centrist Republican, as is McCain.  So this would be a moderate-moderate ticket, not likely to appeal to the conservative base.

Bobby Jindal – Though Jindal’s conservatism is manifested in very practical ways (i.e. opposition to corruption, reform of Louisiana’s state government), his devout Catholicism and his youth can be used against him.  Critics will draw attention to what they see as a quaint and backward perspective on the world, and they will point out that at age 37 he is younger and less experienced that Barack Obama.

Joe Lieberman – Despite McCain’s close friendship with Lieberman, this is a mistake that must never be made.  Lieberman is a liberal hawk, which is exactly how  many conservatives see McCain.  The Lieberman option would be a disaster for McCain’s candidacy and for the Republican party, and Senator McCain is smart enough to know that.

Tim Pawlenty – Like John McCain, Pawlenty is a very intelligent and very glib individual who sometimes makes off-the-cuff remarks that he later regrets.  Pawlenty is in some respects a younger version of McCain, and despite their mutual admiration, the two don’t make a complementary pairing.

David Petraeus – A McCain-Petraeus ticket would be an all-military ticket (remember that McCain was a naval officer), and though most conservatives would love it, at the same time it would give many Americans the willies.  In this case, the upside is the downside.  Besides, not enough is known about Petraeus’s views on moral and political matters.

Rob Portman – Portman is just the sort of wonky politico-type whose expertise would compensate for McCain’s non-detail-oriented approach to politics.  Portman’s experience is extensive and varied, his resume dazzling.  But the campaign might have a hard time selling this former member of the Bush administration to the American public, and anyway, he’s believed to have his eye on the Ohio governor’s mansion.

Condoleeza Rice – Though some may consider it a coup for McCain to have a black woman for his running mate, Rice is probably too closely associated with George W. Bush to help McCain win any significant portion of the black vote.  Besides, Ms. Rice has repeatedly and adamantly stated that she has absolutely no desire to be anyone’s vice president.  After nearly eight years of working in the White House, Rice is believed to be yearning for the quiet academic environment of her beloved Stanford University.

Tom Ridge – Ridge certainly has the homeland security chops and serious demeanor to head up the anti-terrorism front of a presidential campaign (or adminstration), but he’s old and white and boring.  Ridge won’t dazzle the younger voters and he won’t win over the swing voters.  He’s better suited to a role in the cabinet than to one on the campaign trail.

Mitt Romney – If McCain is looking for someone to perform as a surrogate campaigner, he’d better look elsewhere.  No one has ever spent so much money to perform so dismally on the campaign trail and at the polls as Romney in the Republican primaries.  Romney can occasionally put together a few good minutes on the campaign trail, but he’s too surly and too obnoxious – and too ambitious – to be an effective running mate.  Romney is also a pathological flip-flopper, and that means that he isn’t to be trusted.

Mark Sanford – Sanford is a youthful and appealing party loyalist, an ideological conservative, and a good public speaker.  Sanford might be an effective campaigner among the southern conservative set; those who want their politicians to be like their pastors: true believers.  The evangelical community is leery of McCain’s conservative creds, and it may be that Sanford can seal the South for McCain.  Unfortunately for Sanford, he’s a southern white man, and if McCain wanted one of those he would probably pick his friend Mike Huckabee.

Michael Steele – The Republicans would love to have a conservative black leader step up to the plate, and Michael Steele’s name has frequently been mentioned in that context.  Unfortunately, it seems to this commentator that Steele’s reputation exceeds him.  His supposedly great oratorical skills are dwarfed by those of such stalwarts as Allan Keyes and Mike Huckabee, and his career seems to be stalled somewhere between minor state office and the major national stage.

John Thune – The future of the Republican party resides in people like Thune, a regular looking guy who can appeal to Southern conservatives, midwestern evangelicals, and western libertarians alike.  His resume isn’t as thin as some would suggest, with three terms as a member of the US House of Representatives and one term as a US Senator, but he is still rather young and Republicans do prefer their politicians to be rather more seasoned.  More importantly from the strategic standpoint, Thune is from South Dakota, a state with only three electoral votes.  And his profile is very low even in neighboring states, so he brings very little to the table electorally.

Have I missed anyone?  Please let me know with a comment if there’s anyone else whose resume you would like me to shred.

John McCain attended the CPAC Conference in Washington and then campaigned in Kansas last week, which caused him to miss a global security conference in Germany.  No problem, he just sent his pal Tim Pawlenty, Republican governor of Minnesota.

Buddies and mutual admirers Pawlenty (left) and McCain (right)

This is sure to fuel the speculation among Minnesota Republicans that Pawlenty is likely to be McCain’s running mate in November, should McCain win the Republican nomination for president.  Pawlenty’s international experience is limited by his position as governor of a medium-sized albeit prosperous Midwestern state.  Attending such a pretigious event can only help Pawlenty, as long as he doesn’t pull a GHW Bush and yak on the prime minister of Japan before passing out and disappearing under the dinner table.

Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas

One prominent politician seems to have removed his name from consideration for the position, and that’s Mike Huckabee.  Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Huckabee told Tim Russert this morning that he thinks it unlikely that McCain would select him as a running mate.  “I’m not going to be asked. I think it’s pretty evident that there would be a whole lot of people on the list long, long before me, and one of them would say ‘yes,'”  However, Huckabee reiterated that he is still in the contest to win it, and that he hopes that he will be the one looking for a running mate come convention time.

At this time (late January 2008) the Republican field has been narrowed to five more or less serious and viable candidates for president.  Speculation is going to rev up soon regarding who should be considered for the position of vice president.  Here’s my list of those who won’t (first) and those who might (second) be chosen for the party’s Veep nomiation.

Keep in mind that a candidate’s appearance on this list says nothing about his viability in the ongoing race.

First, those who absolutely won’t be selected:

  1. John McCain – At age 72 he’s too old, he’s too proud, and he has more power and prestige as a senator than he’d ever have as the Vice President.
  2. Rudy Giuliani – Too liberal, too combative, too proud. Giuliani wouldn’t enhance the ticket as a #2 for anybody.
  3. Mitt Romney – I’m pretty sure the other Republicans all hate his guts, except for maybe Fred Thompson, who is out the door and and won’t be needing him.
  4. Ron Paul – too flakey and too high negatives, plus a past that includes some really weird newsletters published under his byline.

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Secondly, here’s a list of good Veep candidates. This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive; these are just my favorites.

  1. Mike Huckabee – If he’s unsuccessful in his run for Prexy, Huckabee (who is only 52 years old and will most certainly run again) would benefit from 4-8 years as Veep. Throw in the fact that he’s an excellent debater and a genuine Southern conservative, and he makes an attractive #2 for any Yankee.
  2. Tommy Thompson – has national ambitions, was a successful and popular Republican governor in Wisconsin, and is a policy expert in a variety of areas.
  3. Tim Pawlenty – a young, handsome, popular, born-again, conservative Republican governor in the most liberal of midwestern states (Minnesota), Pawlenty is a gifted campaigner and has been noticed nationally for his success in balancing the Minnesota budget when it was badly in the red, as well as for being national co-chair of McCain’s campaign.
  4. Ed Schafer – currently being confirmed as the new Ag Sec, former North Dakota governor Schafer is an articulate and affable politician with a squeaky clean image and a gift for compromise.
  5. Lindsay Graham – This senator from South Carolina is a thoughtful, rational, soft-spoken conservative with excellent credentials. Graham is respected throughout the party, and is on good terms with both fiscal and social conservatives.