In my latest reading of Tim Pawlenty’s Courage to Stand, Pawlenty talks about how he was on the list to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin instead, and the problems that Pawlenty believes are inherent in President Barack Obama’s bailouts and deficits. Here are the passages that stood out to me, along with my comments:
“[John McCain would] wake up and hit the road with a big Starbucks coffee in his hand, and he’d have a story or a wisecrack for everything. He’d tell these corny old jokes, and it was clear he’d been telling some of the same jokes for twenty years, but he’d laugh the same at each one of them…” (page 243).
That’s something that I’ve heard about John McCain: that he has a sense of humor. I remember McCain soon before the November 2008 election appearing on Saturday Night Live with Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, and, in the skit, he was selling stuff on QVC due to his campaign’s lack of funds. (See here, though I could have done without the narrator’s nitpicking.) I liked how he was willing to laugh at himself rather than taking himself too seriously. At the same time, I’ve also read that McCain can be rather arrogant (see here). Overall, though, I’d probably enjoy working on a McCain campaign, as long as I did not try to start an argument with him! I don’t think he’s the type who chews people out for making mistakes, for I read in one book about the 2008 campaign that he often joked about the mistakes that his staff made. I can’t speak in absolutes, however, because I’m only commenting based on my limited reading.
“There was a funny moment earlier that morning, though. Just after I got off the phone with McCain, I took our dog out for a walk so she could do her dog’s duty…As I put the little bag over my hand and bent down to pick up her poop, I thought to myself, Well, this is the only number two I’ll be picking up today” (page 259).
This is after Pawlenty learned he would not be the number-two on McCain’s ticket!
“[Sarah Palin] came to Minnesota in 2010, on a Tuesday afternoon, in the middle of a workday, and twelve thousand people showed up to see her. Many of them were camped out by breakfast time so they could get in the door first upon her arrival that afternoon. These people all had tickets. They were all going to get in. The only reason they camped out is because they wanted to sit up front. There aren’t five other politicians in the country who could come to town and get half that turnout” (page 263).
I agree with Pawlenty on this: Sarah Palin does draw crowds. There was a time when I probably would have camped out so I could sit in the front row and hear her speak. Nowadays, probably not (though it would be interesting if I could meet her at a book-signing). I remember turning on the TV to watch Hannity’s show because I knew that Ralph Reed would be on, for (while I’m not exactly right-wing) I enjoy listening to Reed’s political analysis. I was disappointed to see Sarah Palin on the program, spouting cliches and platitudes rather than sophisticated policy analysis. There was a time in the 2008 campaign when I was trying to watch every interview Sarah Palin was in. I think it was the Katie Couric interviews that laid that obsession to rest.
“Listening to the debate in Washington, a pattern seems to be emerging: folks at the bottom of our economy get a handout, folks at the top get a bailout, and the rest of us get our wallets out.”
I don’t entirely agree with this, for President Barack Obama’s Administrative has been largely supportive of a number of tax cuts for the middle class. As far as the bailouts go, I’m sympathetic with Pawlenty’s critique, but I think that the bailouts were necessary to save our economy. And I wish that Pawlenty displayed more compassion in this passage for the “folks at the bottom” rather than making the issue one of “the rest of us” vs. them.
On Amazon, I read some negative book reviews of Pawlenty’s book, and some of the negative commenters were saying that Pawlenty as Governor of Minnesota raised fees, contributed to an increase in property taxes, and slashed programs that were helping the poor and the middle-class, even as he supported a low tax burden for the rich. Maybe this is true. I don’t know. It does seem to fit what strikes me as true regarding a number of Republicans these days: they’re for decreasing the tax burden on the rich, but not so much for decreasing the financial burdens on the poor and the middle class. There are exceptions to this (i.e., the Bush tax cuts for the middle class), but it’s nevertheless an overall trend that appears to me to exist.
(UPDATE: On page 273, Pawlenty says that, when he was Governor, Minnesota capped and cut property taxes and eliminated the marriage penalty. He says on page 274 that both the rich and the poor should be paying lower taxes, and on page 288 that he said no to health care fees that Democrats supported.)