By Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D.
Germantown, MD (July 1, 2011) – The conservative Republican primary electorate is fired up and ready to go, especially those who hate the President because he is black (anyone but BHO). The Tea Party and deep antipathy of BHO have driven the party farther to the right and left emotionally one path to the nomination:
Except for BHO’s role in killing Osama bin Laden, criticize everything about BHO (ridiculous as it may sound) in terms that are harsh, mocking, dismissive and/or apocalyptic. They describe him as projecting weakness in foreign policy (what does Pawlenty know about foreign affairs?); his Middle East policies are “incoherent” (to the GOP?) and he is “chicken” on deficit reduction because he would not go with their solution with just budget cuts without considering taxes for millionaires and ending subsidies to big corporation.
Timothy James Pawlenty was a two-term governor of Minnesota who touts his record as CEO of the state by controlling growth in government. Not true! He used short-term budget tricks that left Minnesota with a $5 billion projected deficit, one of the highest in the nation as a percentage of the state’s general fund. He attacked the Obama administration’s stimulus bill but asked for $236 million from it. One thing in common among the GOP wannabes is the merciless and malicious attack on the sitting president because he comes from a different political party and for getting things done in spite of their concerted effort to derail him so that they can accuse him of doing nothing and make him a one-term president. How disingenuous and dishonest!
His attacks on reproductive rights please anti-abortion advocates, making him the strongest pro-life candidate in 2012 besides Michele Bachmann. As governor he signed legislation making it harder for women to seek abortion, requiring a waiting period and anti-choice lecture. He once voted for a gay rights bill as a state legislator, disavowed it and embarked on a journey that may be appropriately labeled homophobic. He is a vocal supporter to amend the Minnesota Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. His opposition extends to even civil unions. He switches positions to be more acceptable to the far right of the GOP, actively supporting regional actions to address climate change and filming one environmental commercial. He calls his former position “stupid” and joined the ranks of climate change deniers.
He opposes the healthcare law signed by Pres. Obama, calling it unconstitutional (to throw red meat to the base) and “one of the worst pieces of legislation in the history of the country.” In 2006 he pushed a wide array of initiatives to crack down on illegal immigration. He advocated denying citizenship to American-born children of undocumented immigrants. He aims to please big corporations when it comes to economic and corporate rights and subsidies. He wrote a coluMinnesota in the WSJ slamming government employees and decrying a silent coup, an inside job engineered by politicians more interested in perpetuating their careers and fueled by heavy campaign contributions. Politifact rated the coluMinnesota and its claim of collusion by government workers “Pants on Fire” (its most-lying “Truth-o-Metter” rating). Translation: Not true!
Pawlenty sounds like a dreamer who exhorted the religious right at a gathering in IA, “we the people of the US will rise up again” (against whom? Against those who do not follow their lead?)! “We will take back the government” (from whom? from crazies that he is presenting himself to lead?) “It’s time for new leadership. It’s time for a new approach. It’s time for America’s president – and anyone who wants to be president – to look you in the eye and tell the truth.” It’s a message that is more appropriate and applicable to many presidential wannabes in his party.
His major asset is his easy-going demeanor and scandal-free past. He is an evangelical Christian (unlike Mike Huckabee) who opposes abortion rights (woman’s right to choose) and same-sex-marriage which endear him among social conservatives who are very influential in GOP primaries in Iowa and South Caroline. This is tampered with by the fact that he is still considered a relative unknown outside his home state. He polls in single digits in most national 2012 GOP surveys. He is not charismatic to the point of being considered boring.
Although he has been campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire for a couple of years now, not many people know much about him. He has low name recognition. His book Courage to Stand is not selling well. Being from Minnesota, some people wrongly assume that he is automatically some kind of moderate. As a matter of fact, he is campaigning as a hardcore, across the board conservative. He is not afraid to appear on even the most offensive radio show, like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, one of the most extreme, repulsive, hateful, detested and bigoted personalities on Christian radio. He helped raise money for Ralph Reed’s “Faith and Freedom Coalition” in IA. He appointed an education commissioner who equated the teaching of Evolution with teaching of Creationism.
The former governor paints himself as an anti-tax champion because he “stood up to the unions and special interest,” but many residents of the state disagree. In the early years of his tenure, the state enjoyed budget surpluses. With the effects of the recession hitting the country, he left office earlier this year with a $6 billion deficit and higher unemployment. It was the largest deficit in Minnesota’s history which drove up property taxes and fees on middle-class families and businesses while making large cuts to education, even forcing some schools into four-day weeks. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota called his claim of not raising taxes an outright lie.
He is quite popular with Tea Partiers as he called for holding the line on government spending and taxes at an inaugural policy summit in Phoenix sponsored by TPM. He has since expanded his operations into SC for its record of picking the GOP presidential nominee. He is raising money for both primary (maximum of $2,500) and the general elections (maximum $2,500). He hired the operations director for SC GOP as his political director in the state. He promised the right-wing groups that, if elected president, he will appoint “strict constructionist” judges (Translation: 18th century view of American rights and interests). Last year he appointed a lawyer with strong Religious Right connections bypassing the State’s Commission on Judicial Selection to a judgeship.
In 2008, he supported TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), but in 2010 he excused his support that he had been speaking solely as surrogate of GOP presidential nominee John McCain and never actually supported the idea himself. He accuses BHO of appeasing the country’s enemies. In his campaign announcement, he described BHO as lacking in understanding of the nation’s problems and the courage to address them. If race is a crime, he would also accuse BHO for being black. In other words, from what we’ve seen and heard so far, Tim Pawlenty is poised to say and/or do anything to get the nomination, even faking a southern accent earning him the mockery of Minnesotans.
In one of his early campaign rounds, he lashed out at BHO’s economic policies, starting with gasoline at $4 a gallon to the shrinking of home prices to Obamacare (more expensive and less efficient? It hasn’t even started yet) and unemployment (back to over 9 percent). He called BHO a “champion practitioner of class warfare.” True to his GOP Talking Points, he called for more cuts in corporate taxes. The question is – where’s the beef from your end? What’s your plan to create and bring back jobs besides the usual tax cuts which never resulted in job creation and more tax cuts for the rich? His 5 percent growth rate is laughed at by pundits as a “pie in the sky.” Unrealistic!
He thinks he has a chance of winning the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 because his opponents are midgets and he towers over all of them. He is the lesser evil among all these evil entities which saturate the air waves and the campaign trail with lies about BHO and each other. As the Japanese would put it “Aru na waku ni masaru” (Anything is better than nothing). But would you settle for him if you can get a better candidate to defeat BHO? Tim Pawlenty should look at himself and his baggage more closely!
Rawlein G. Soberano, Ph.D. is President of the Asian American Business Roundtable.