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Tilting at Windmills

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September 11, 2009

PAWLENTY'S ACUTE CASE OF ROMNEY-ITIS.... We've seen this dynamic before. In fact, we saw it just a couple of years ago.

Mitt Romney was known as a relatively moderate Republican governor of a reliably "blue" state, who could present himself, with a straight face, as a pragmatic, sane policymaker. Then Romney decided what he really wanted was to be president. Sane, moderate pragmatism wouldn't win over the Republican base, so that persona would have to be cast aside. It was painful to watch, and ultimately ineffective.

Here we go again. Tim Pawlenty was also known as a relatively moderate Republican governor of a reliably "blue" state. And like Romney, Pawlenty has decided that what he really wants is to be president. So, in keeping with the predictable model, Pawlenty has decided to go full-on crazy to impress the type of folks who vote in Republican presidential primaries.

Minnesota Republican Tim Pawlenty urged fellow governors on Thursday to more frequently assert state sovereignty over the federal government and suggested that the country may increasingly see states suing the federal government.

Asked by a caller about the option of asserting the Tenth Amendment as a tactic to reject a successful health care overhaul by President Barack Obama during a tele-town hall organized by the Republican Governors Association, Pawlenty said, "that's a possibility."

Speaking generally about the tenth amendment, Pawlenty said the country has not had "a proper federalism debate since Ronald Reagan raised the issue in the 1980s."

"You're starting to see more governors, me and governor [Rick] Perry from Texas, speaking out on this and asserting our tenth amendment rights," Pawlenty said on a call listened to by more than 12,000 people.

Pawlenty's pandering comes just a week after he criticized President Obama's speech encouraging kids to do well in school. The governor argued, out loud, that the White House might have been trying to compile a list of children "for the purpose of a mailing list." It's likely he knew this was moronic, but Pawlenty has some Tea Baggers to impress, and some right-wing ground to make up.

But this ridiculous "Tenther" rhetoric is even more radical. As Ian Millhiser recently explained, "[C]nservatives are increasingly enraptured with tentherism, which claims that landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the VA health system and the G.I. Bill are violations of the 10th Amendment -- and many leading conservative officials are determined to impose the tentherism on the country. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is a tenther, as are Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)."

Tim Pawlenty probably realizes this is insane, but his ambitions have overridden his judgment.

Romney-itis, in other words, has claimed another victim. Regrettably, there is no cure.

Update: Dave Weigel has the full transcript of Pawlenty's comments.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the VA health system and the G.I. Bill are violations of the 10th Amendment

Good! I hope Pawlenty and Perry and the rest f those lunatics carry their philosophy forward and cut their state's citizens off from these programs. Shoving old people and veterans out into the street is a guaranteed way to garner votes! Welcome to the new "Compassionate Conservatism!"

Posted by: Domage on September 11, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Get out the popcorn,it will be fun watching.

Posted by: par4 on September 11, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Pawlenty was always a dick, Steve. On a personal and policy level. This guy has a nasty streak a mile wide. It's not new with him. If anything, he had to appear more moderate to get elected in Minn. than he actually was.

Posted by: Scott F. on September 11, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Look at it this way: Republicans have a totally failed ideology. On every count, domestic and foreign, they have absolutely nothing of substance that works to offer voters. The sane thing to do would be to overhaul their platform and become a viable political party again (hint: viewing everything thru the prism of the govt being the problem will not help you). But these people really do seem to be not quite sane and have instead developed a totally closed feedback loop of insanity, aided in large part by the press. There is nothing whatever about the current Republican party that offers anything to anybody that's not white & already rich. But instead of saying as much, the press pretends they're a viable alternative voice.

Perhaps what is needed is for the regular public to see what a full-on Republican platform would do for them. Imagine these states without federal funding. Imagine no Social Security, Medicare or any other help provided to those regular folks that hate Obama and fear the Democrats & vote Republican reliably. Imagine a worst-case scenario -- a hurricane or other disaster -- handled as ably as Bush handled Katrina, only more so, since there would be no funds or federal infrastructure for aid.

I won't say that's what I'd like to see, because I don't like to see dumb animals of any species suffer. But part of me is fed up & angry at the Republican "message" and its contempt for America and all it stands for. So, let's just say if there was a national vote to move the Republicans to Texas & let them form their country, I would vote in favor. They could make Bush their King, even. Just make sure the borders are closed tight.

Posted by: zhak on September 11, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

pawlenty and perry need to walk their talk. block every friggin federal check deposited into minnesota and texas bank accounts as fraudulent financial instruments.

then, the rest of us can sit back and watch those rootin' tootin' texas and minnesota mouthbreathers squeal...

Posted by: linda on September 11, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

I never quite understood the idea that Pawlenty is a moderate, or ever was. he has always been in the bag with the Grover Nordquist types in Mn, has long ties to the really crazy fundamentalists and was little more than a jerk as house speaker at the capitol.

Timmy also seems to have forgotten that he was never able to get more than 43% of Minnesotans votes, although standing next to crazy Michele, he looks sort of moderate. He would prpbably admit the earth is round, but in the same breath suggest it is a lot younger than generally belived.

Posted by: the seal on September 11, 2009 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

So, Pawlenty will spend the Primary season convincing the batshit-crazy Republican base that he's one of them and then what? Does he campaign against his Primary persona in the run up to the general election in an attempt to convince moderates and swing voters that he was only kidding?
That's some plan, governor. You, and others like you, stood idly by while your party assiduously whipped its lunatic fringe into a froth. Now you have to cater to the fringe and in so doing you render yourself unelectable to the broader public.
All those who place their faith in fire, in fire their faith shall be repaid.
-Hamilton Camp

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on September 11, 2009 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

Once a man is bitten by the presidential bug, he never gets over it, as Lincoln noted. It made a fool repeatedly of Salmon Chase, his Secretary of the Treasury, and damned if it doesn't the exact same thing to Pawlenty.

Next stet is for the good governor to start mocking Minnesota and lying about his accomplishments, much as Romney did to Massachusetts. Then he can work on the religion and the hair.

Posted by: Balakirev on September 11, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

...oh, and as far as blocking federal health care dollars, three words... tar, feathers, rail

Posted by: the seal on September 11, 2009 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

For republicans it is more important to impress the neocon billionaires and sell your soul to the devil than it is to represent Americans who elected and pay for your perfidy.

Posted by: MLjohnston on September 11, 2009 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Pawlenty is just drinking the Republican Kool-Aid!

A short essay on hallucinogens...

In my younger years, I experimented with the use of LSD and mescaline and even tried peyote a couple times.

LSD provides altered perceptions, thought and consciousness. Among the experiences provided were a perception of viewing in an additional dimension. For me, the primary difference when using mescaline was the added intensity of color perception. LSD and mescaline provide experiences that are qualitatively different from those of ordinary consciousness. LSD and mescaline 'trips' would normally last for several hours.

The other hallucinogen to be discussed in today's essay is Republican Kool-Aid (RKA), sometimes referred to as Republican Kook-Aid. While I have not personally experienced the usage of RKA, I have been able to observe those making heavy usage of it. What RKA has in common with LSD and mescaline is that it provides altered perceptions, thought and consciousness. Again, in comparision to LSD, RKA appears to provide experiences that are qualitatively different from those of ordinary consciousness. RKA obviously provides a pleasurable experience to its users.

The primary difference observed between LSD and RKA is that there is a known time limit within which LSD's effects disappear. Unfortunately, there is no known scientific data to support any conclusion that RKA's efforts will always disappear. It is possible that, for a large number of RKA users, the effects will be permanent.

The conclusion of my studies indicate that due to the long term, possible permanent damaging effects of RKA, anyone who wants to hallucinate would be much better served using LSD.

Posted by: SadOldVet on September 11, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

"You're starting to see more governors, me and governor [Rick] Perry from Texas, speaking out on this and asserting our tenth amendment rights,"

Would that be the same Rick Perry who asserts his 10th Amendment rights out of one side of his mouth while accepting much stimulus money, pretending it is from him, and doling it out to charm the masses out of the other side?

And his name is Governor Goodhair. (RIP, Molly Ivins)

Posted by: ckelly on September 11, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

I think RKA is much more like angle dust/PCP than LSD. Users of RKA/PCP objectivly belive their hallucinations. It explains the much higher psychosis rates compared to LSD. The major difference between RKA and PCP is that with PCP the psychosis eventually wears off.

Posted by: the seal on September 11, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Obama should take the opportunity to eliminate all the federal dollars that go to these states for transportation, education, farm subsidies, water projects, defense contracts, law enforcement, entitlement programs, etc. Let's see how long their Tentherism lasts then.

Posted by: Speed on September 11, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK


New meme?

Posted by: ogmb on September 11, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

There is a convergence here between general GOP wackiness and that special South Carolinian recipe that includes Jones and Sanford.

Remember that it was South Carolina that led the succession movement that ultimately resulted in the Civil War. Looks like a repeat, but this time with the parties in reversed roles.

Posted by: g. powell on September 11, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Did he make these remarks while handing someone a giant over sized stimulus check?

Posted by: doubtful on September 11, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

The SECOND thing the tenthers
do after proclaiming states' rights is demand
federal tort reform that will overrule
plaintiff favoring state courts.

Posted by: catclub on September 11, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

In the end, though, the fundamental advantage the Republithugs have over the Democrats is that the ONLY thing they care about is BEING president, governor, representative, whatever, and not about actually accomplishing anything through those offices. They want to gain the office because of the status and personal advantages they get through them, and they enhance that status and perks by manipulating the office to funnel benefits to the corporatist supporters that put them in place, but in the end, they don't really care much about what they do while they are in office. Their strategy at this point is almost completely reactive and counts on waiting for Democrat overreach or screwup to give them an opening to stick their fingers into the lizard brains of low information voters, and get them stirred up enough to push them over the top. If Dems would listen to smart operators like Howard Dean, it would probably be possible to push the GOP into the dustbin of history, but unfortunately, ego and personal agendas are still sufficiently well represented on the Dem said to keep that from happending at this poing.

Posted by: dcsusie on September 11, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Tim Pawlenty shares the bunkered mentality of other Republicans. In his own pleasant, boy-next-door way, he has been as bad for Minnesota as George Bush was bad for the USA. 2010 and his departure from the Governor's mansion can't come soon enough.

As for Tenthers, Pffft! Idiots. So it isn't enough that Republicans are selfish, ignorant and living in a delusional world; They want to wallow in it. They want to celebrate it.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: PTate in MN on September 11, 2009 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Still, it may not be wise to take chances on Tenth Amendment issues with this current Supreme Court.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on September 11, 2009 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Romney-itis, in other words, has claimed another victim. Regrettably, there is no cure.

Regrettably? Not at all! If this cheap pandering to the lowest common denominator takes another one of these lacking-in-integrity moral pygmies off the national stage (let's hope Perry crashes and burns next) I'm all for it! These are hideous people, and have no business being anywhere near the White House (or even in government, for that matter.)

Posted by: electrolite on September 11, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Scott F.. Ratface was never a moderate--he was just able to play one on the teevee machine. Now, he's not as rightwinger as he is currently pretending to be, either (or stupid, for that matter). He is doing what he thinks it takes to win his prize--in this case, the Republican nomination. I am betting that he will switch back to more moderate after securing the nomination (his plan). He is such a jerk.

Posted by: asiangrrlMN on September 11, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

as opposed to Tentherism this movement should be called what it is - factionalism - plain and simple.

next time these guys get up to speak the first question should be does that mean a state that does not want to participate in the military can bar its taxes from used and its residents from participating in the said military and demand an answer.

Posted by: lee on September 11, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

The 10th Amendment doesn't actually prohibit the federal government from doing anything. It doesn't say you can't have Medicare or Social Security or a Department of Education or anything else. It simply enshrines the principle that the people, and their state governments, have the right to limit the actions of the federal government. It does not mandate any specific limitations, which obviously indicates any such limitations were to be worked out through the political and legal process.


Posted by: MBunge on September 11, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

To all the people saying, "Let Minnesota and Texas stop taking accepting federal programs if they don't like Federal Government so much."

Your taunts would make more sense if those state's citizens hadn't already paid into Social Security, if the state could compel the federal gov't to return the money as a lump sum, and if the states could lower their federal tax burden by a roughly equivalent amount as the money the turn away.

Posted by: inkadu on September 11, 2009 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't kinda funny that this States' Rights bullshit always gets brought up in the context of the Black Man? From the founding of the Constitution, treatment of blacks and slaves was framed as a states' right issue. It continued up and until the rebellion of southern states. Next voting rights were States' only issues. Followed by the Civil Rights push-back. Ronald Reagan dog-whistled States' Rights when he attacked affirmative actions programs. And now we have a black president and the conservative pig-fuckers are back on the Tenth Amendment.

Why don't they just come out and say it, "We hate the nigger!" Let it out; we're pretty sure everyone gets it by now.

Posted by: Charles on September 11, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

While I like the drug similies, I think what we are seeing is more aptly described as a black hole. Billionaires created and still fund a "Right-Wing Conspiracy" whose critical mass found overreach in the Bush/Cheney/Rove years, empowering their delusional base, generating fear and stenography among traditional news outlets, and creating a media engine of paranoia that sucks in every bit of the GOP; a place where "not even light can escape the pull."

As for Tentherism, the political response has been tested and works: Cabinet secretaries need to send more letters asking governors if they really want the checks to stop. I want to see Jindal hold up a big check with all zeros signed by Obama.

Posted by: Bob Johnson on September 11, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

You generally don't want to piss off the larger employers in your state. Earlier this week the Mayo Clinic endorsed Obama's plan. I don't think Pawlenty can do this by executive fiat and members of the legislature may not want to walk the plank with him.

Posted by: art hackett on September 11, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Your taunts would make more sense if those state's citizens hadn't already paid into Social Security, if the state could compel the federal gov't to return the money as a lump sum, and if the states could lower their federal tax burden by a roughly equivalent amount as the money the turn away."

Nope, Congress has the specific power to levy taxes, nothing in the constitution about getting lower taxes if you personally dont benifit from a fed program

Posted by: jefft452 on September 11, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

As for the comment, we can have our money back in one lump sum. Nah.

Not unless you are willing to give liberals back half of their tax dollars for the military expenditures we prefer not to believe in.

With the dumping of the Articles of Confederation, the ability of Congress to levy taxes was pretty much resolved and provided for in the US Constitution. They can; they do.

If the 10th says what conservatives want it to say, all is says is the Federal Government cannot spend money here (Minn. Tex. SC). Not that they can't raise money here! Next time your red-neck ass is traveling down I-35 in Dallas, TX, imagine it as a fucking dirt road without overpasses and exchanges as you pay your federal gasoline tax, which then goes to Minnesota's eight lane paved little path to heaven.

Dumb. Tenth Amendment aArgument is dumb. At TREASON!

Posted by: Charles on September 11, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK


Wrong again. States do not pay into Social Security, or other Federal taxes - individuals do. Under no circumstances should a state "get back" what individuals pay. In addition, individuals move around within the United States - why should Minnesota get anything from the Feds because I worked for three months there in 1985 ? Fianlly, the states that are noisiest about the Tenth amendment in the deep south and the mountain west are getting more federal dollars in than they pay out in taxes.

I think that the obvious solution is for Texas, Minnesota, and other Tenther states to vote on whether they want to secede from the Union. I suspect Minnesota won't go for it. For those that do, good riddance.

Posted by: divF on September 11, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, I've noticed that the word "insane" keeps popping up - please, that is what the Soviets used to do to silence dissidents - declare them insane and put them into mental assylums. That is what the Bushies and the Bushie syncopants like Krauthammer did to personally discredit anyone who publically disagreed with Bush.

We here on the reality-based side of things shouldn't have to resort to that kind of characterization of any political issue or anyone who espouses such an issue. It's a lazy way to make an argument and shows that we're no better than they are.

Posted by: andy on September 11, 2009 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I think I prefer "Romnification."

Posted by: SqueakyRat on September 11, 2009 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with other commenters (Scott F, the seal) that Tim Pawlenty has never been a moderate. He's got that gee-whiz, guy-next-door midwest appeal that makes you think he's going to be a reasonable human being, until he says anything related to politics and state policies.

Minnesota has always been a high-tax state, which many of us like because the good services make it a nice place to live. I won't argue that our budgets couldn't stand some trimming when Tim first came into office. But he has successfully starved the state and local beasts down to where the ribs are showing. His idea of health care reform is kicking more people out of the system and cutting benefits (this has happened again this year).

I'm pretty sure that MN voters won't let him get away with the tenther stuff, and we're all looking forward to his last day in office.

Posted by: susan on September 11, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Without the considerable largess and patronage of the Federal government, Texas will be an overun, underdeveloped, 4th world, backwater state in less than a year. The various Texas arms of goverment from local administrative judges and county sherrifs to the Governor are so incompetent and corrupt, they make Afghanistan look like Sweden.

As soon as Goodhair Perry and the rest of these yahoos make good on their talk of secession, there will be an immediate brain drain as anyone with more than two synapses firing (an admitted minority) flees for greener pastures in say, Louisiana or Mississippi.

Posted by: Winkandanod on September 11, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

...there will be an immediate brain drain as anyone with more than two synapses firing (an admitted minority) flees for greener pastures in say, Louisiana or Mississippi.

No, no way. The United States should insist they take Louisiana and Mississippi with them. They should also have to throw in Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia.

A quick cut-off of Federal transfer payments for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would have these rugged individualists begging for help like their grandparents did in 1935.

These people were literally starving in the 1930's, with the Dust Bowl, etc., and FDR saved them. Now they call him a socialist, but their grand daddies voted for him every chance he got. Hoover was letting them experience the magic of the free market and they didn't like it nearly as much as today's wing nuts seem to think they would. Rick Perry's ranch would have dried up and blown away long ago if it weren't for "socialist Democrats".

Posted by: Pug on September 11, 2009 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

Let these idiot "tenthers" continue their good work: increasing the Democratic majority in 2010.
The Democratic response to this idiocy is simple and easy to understand:
"Do you get to pick which speed laws you obey? No. Do you get to pick which Federal laws you obey? No."
And, of course, if the Republicans simply up the volume of their whining, we only have to remind voters that if they (the voters) agree with this position, then they obviously are quite happy to have the Federal government quit paying out funds for Social Security, Medicare, highways, etc. to recipients in their state.
Could prove to be verrry interesting for the Republicans...

Posted by: Doug on September 11, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

guess qualities each optimal sehat servicebased anzsic employing

Posted by: Ambien on September 14, 2009 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Romney went out of his way to downplay his conservatism when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. There were plenty of Massachusetts residents like me who knew better, and were none too surprised when started making trashing the state he was governor of a key part of his campaign for President.

I wouldn't be surprised if Pawlenty fell into the same category.

Posted by: Noel on September 15, 2009 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK



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