Last month Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, giving a speech, wrote off Pawlenty as “the Seinfeld governor” because he was “about nothing.” While I get where Coleman is coming from, I think that's completely wrong. Seinfeld was important, a legendary program that managed the everyday alchemy of making “nothing” into “something," to re-place urban life at the center of a neurotic slapstick art.
Rather, Pawlenty, if he'd been a 90s sitcom, would have been a predictable suburban situation schlock show that should have been immediately canceled but somehow managed to stay on the air despite middling ratings, something like Brotherly Love with Joey Lawrence or My Two Dads with Paul Reiser or, [please God no!] Small Wonder, the one about the dude who makes a robot daughter that somehow was on the air for five whole years.
But I empathize with my mayor, and I digress. Like Coleman, for some time now, ever since Dayton's swearing in ceremony, I've been struggling to place pen to paper to voice my thoughts on the departure from our statewide stage of Timothy Pugmire “Pothole” Pawlenty. And I regret to say, I've little to show for it. Looking back on the Pawlenty era, I wish I could rail onwards against the man, to spin a Hecker-esque tale of hypocrisy and political Icarus. But, to be quite honest with you, I find the man immensely impossibly boring.
The saga of BridgeFAIL Pawlenty, as it turns out, acts out a drama that happened all across the country, in every civic body where ire could be channeled for profit. Pawlenty entered our state's power centers through the predictably pedestrian path of the Eagan City Council, rode a 90s Republican suburb into the State House, and joined the middling ranks of the Minnesota state GOP conservative business political class. There young Pothole found his way, standing out in a sophomoric group as one of the smarter ones, quickly becoming the most calculating and least compromised among them. As House leader he stood on message like a broken record, and somehow talked Governor Ventura (sic) into cutting taxes for GOP donors, to whose well-padded wallets Pothole had superglued his sycophantic ambition.
Then he squeaked into the Governor's office in a three-way, and repeated the act four years later, keeping his approval rating hovering somewhere in the milquetoast middle while repeating his “cut taxes cut government” mantra like a harebrained hare krishna, holing up in his office to daydream of national relevance, and squinting in the light of tired TPT flashbulbs while the state slowly crumbled away.
But in a twist of tragic irony, the world would not play Pothole's calculating game. As it turned out, next to the new wave of Republican whack jobs, Pothole would be immensely boring. Other than the bridge falling into the river, name one thing noteworthy that marks the Pawlenty era? (Perhaps this is a good campaign idea? “Pawlenty 2012: Cuts so deep they fall into the river.”) Name one interesting idea or project or proposal that wasn't “cut taxes, cut government.” (This, too, is the essence of the lousily acronymn'd JOBZ, probably Pawlenty's sole paradigmatic prescription.)
Is it any surprise then that, even today, even after spending the last five years endlessly running for office, after kissing the ass of every GOP baby in Iowa, despite learning the middle names of every CNN journalist's spouse, “Tom Pawlenty” is still a nobody on the national stage? He's not even the most famous Minnesotan Republican any more, already more-than-eclipsed by Michele “Batshit” Bachmann in most every poll despite the fact that she's barely able to form a sentence.
Is there a retirement home for GOP empty suits where Norm Coleman [who?] and Governor BridgeFAIL can go to stare at themselves in old pictures shaking hands with “The Hammer” Delay, play mini-golf, and try and pretend they're not failures? I hope there is, and I hope its in an nameless brown Arizona desert suburb where they can both live “without taxes” while hiding from gun nuts and Mexicans, doomed like a Limbaugh Sisyphus to forever write fundraising letters that get thrown away unopened by the Koch Brothers' secretary's intern.
Farewell Timothy “Tom” “BridgeFAIL” “Pothole” Predictable Pedestrian Pablum Pollyanna Parsimony Penury Poorhouse Ptarmigan Psoriasis Pneumonia Ptooey Phlegm Pawlenty. You were the governor. I suppose you did more damage than anyone thought possible considering nobody ever knew your name.