Editorial: Pawlenty needs ‘courage to stand’ by his views

Published 2:47 pm Friday, July 8, 2011

Why is Tim Pawlenty getting poor ratings in Iowa?

Because it’s hard to figure out who he is anymore.

A MinnPost.com column Tuesday by Shane Otto, a screenwriter, book author and science advocate
who has known Pawlenty since the former governor was a young Republican from Eagan, sure
spells out what many Minnesotans have been wondering lately.

In fact, Otto, whose wife is Democrat Rebecca Otto, the state auditor, portrays himself as a conservative
and mentions a meeting in the 1990s at a St. Paul restaurant with Pawlenty when Shane Otto considered running for a House seat as a Republican.

Otto picks apart how Pawlenty has changed his views on issues, such as abortion, health care and
climate change, to please the Republican base he thinks will support him. Otto also provides a Minnesota
Public Radio clip of Pawlenty speaking in March with a Southern accent — to Iowans.

Here are three points from the piece we felt like sharing with our readers:

• “Cynical pandering is the stuff of political cliché. But some Pawlenty observers think he is overeager
to abandon principles, positions, allies and identity to curry favor. This is mystifying since he has talent if he would just be himself. Since he is marketing himself for president as a truth teller who has the courage to stand, the question becomes important. Which version of Pawlenty is the real one: the one he projects, or that of his critics, old and new?”

• “Arne Carlson, the well-loved Republican former governor of Minnesota, sees Pawlenty’s cynical and sometimes baffling approach to politics as evidence of integrity sacrificed on the altar of ambition, and a lack of an internal compass.”

• “Perhaps there is no room left in the world for Republicans who are not willing to ‘get their mind
around the language.’ Judging from the ridiculousness of the climate science deniers and creationists in Congress that might very well be the case.

To me, the story is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. The Minnesota press loved Pawlenty and cut him a lot of slack. The less friendly national press is calling him boring and saying he doesn’t stand for anything.”

The evidence should be clear now, but who knows what his advisers have been telling him?

If the former governor of Minnesota wants to be president, he needs to be Pawlenty, the one with the “courage to stand” and not this newfangled flipflopper.

Pawlenty might be forgetting out there on the campaign trail that, indeed, Minnesotans are