Is Tim Pawlenty ready to be president?

The chatter about the possibility of Gov. Tim Pawlenty joining the ticket with Sen. John McCain has had a familiar undertone to it in Minnesota: the “one of us” syndrome. For example, the Celtics will win the NBA championship and it will be covered here as a local story because Kevin Garnett, raised in Chicago, working in Boston, living in California is “one of us” because he used to play basketball here. Diablo Cody, from Illinois, living in California, is a local story when she won an Oscar because she once worked for City Pages and stripped.

Same with Pawlenty. It’s a “Minnesota makes the bigtime” angle.

But now that people are starting to realize that John McCain can actually win the presidency of the United States, isn’t it time to start covering this story from another perspective?

Is Tim Pawlenty ready to be president of the United States?

The choice of a VP candidate has been trivialized to “how does it help the guy at the top of the ticket to get elected?” Pawlenty has some strengths there. But let’s keep in mind what the job of VP entails. It entails primarily being ready to step in if the president goes toes up.

Pawlenty has been working the national circuit for years. His stint as head of the National Governors Association gives him cover to burnish foreign policy credentials (such as his trip to Europe to attend an anti-terrorism conference), his focus on illegal immigration plays to his Republican base and even his veto the other day of a resolution on trade in Cuba provided an opportunity for him to weigh in on foreign policy, while ostensibly saying it’s none of the business of Minnesota politicians.

Politically, he may be ready to be a vice presidential candidate. Is he ready to be president?

  • Tinne Rosenmeier

    Gov. Pawlenty has shown himself a rigid minded, non-compromising, self-serving, anti-education politician uninterested in meeting the needs of his constituency, or promoting the strengths of his state. Of course he’s ready to be president, if what Republicans want is a fellow who plays to power and his own ambition ahead of the needs of the people. He’s just like George, but younger!

  • Jamie

    I couldn’t agree more with Tinne.

    Having experience being a mean-spirited my-way-or-the-highway governor only makes you ready to be a GW Bush-type president, and we all know how well that has gone. So what if he went to a conference abroad and vetoed a foreign-policy-related bill?

  • Kay Smith

    When I was a retired computer geek, I spent a session as a Minnesota House page and finally realized how much the Republican Party had changed over the years. Pawlenty was then the majority leader heading a cadre of selfish and uncompromising representatives who all held firm their “no new taxes” pledges. Also Carol Molnau, professional transit-hater, was in charge of the transportation (funding or policy?) committee. Pages are treated somewhat as appliances so it was a very educational five months.

  • Alison

    I’ll let everyone else comment on Pawlenty. The other premise of Bob’s post is one of my pet peeves: Minnesota media constantly trying to make the Minnesota connection to every possible story. MPR is certainly no slouch in that department. Why people at such a reputable news organization feel the need to hype Minnesota conections is beyond me. Does this happen in other news markets? Are people who live in other cities capable of realizing that news might still be news even if they had nothing to do with it? Are Minnesotans that insecure?

  • Bob Collins

    If Tim Pawlenty is to be on the ticket…it IS news. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with that. I do think it’s time to move beyond the infatuation with the idea, and get to the question of the role of the position and his qualifications.

  • noen

    Alison, MPR is not that reputable any more. All the more so for the reasons you say right here. This pandering to froth by Bob is no different that at any other corporate media outlet. I think MPR should adopt a new slogan “MPR, Fair and Balanced”.

  • Ann Alquist

    I am in Germany watching the election from afar, and it’s interesting to see how German “experts” treat this. They say McCain can’t win without the religious right, and Pawlenty is too moderate. Very much a perception that the power of the American fundamental Christianity must be paid attention to, and the connections with policymakers with political ambitions. It would be interesting for the press to look at that within Minnesota, and indeed for the other possibilities in the VP race. It would be a neat journalistic enterprise to do a Spheres of Influence web based project to show those ties combined with good shoe leather work.

  • Tom Weber, MPR

    I would add to Alison’s comment that, having just spent five years as a reporter for the NPR station in St. Louis, the “they did it here” stuff is not just a Minnesota thing. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing?

  • D. B.

    Pawlenty isn’t even ready to be Governor.

  • Alison

    Tom – It’s too bad it goes on anywhere. Sorry to hear it happens in St. Louis as well. I wish MPR would have a staff meeting and say “Knock it off! It’s immature.” It always reminds me of my kids. When one does something good and receives praise, the other has to chime in about something she did to try to get some attention too. The difference, they’re 5 and 6 and not highly trained professional journalists.

  • Bob Collins

    Not to discourage a “what’s wrong with MPR?” (or the news media)” discussion but this actually *is* an opportunity to discuss a substantive question that we all say we want discussed. Let’s not boot it.

    What are you looking for in your next VP? Specifically.

  • Alison

    I think you have to look for the same things you look for in a president. With the VP’s senate duties, legislative experience would be a plus. I think it is important that the President and VP be able to work well together. They don’t have to necessarily agree on everything, but they should have a mutual repsect for each other. That’s why I am not sure about Obama/Clinton or Clinto/Obama. Sure, it may be a way to appease many in the party, but they may have taken too many sharp jabs at each other to move on easily. Also, I think a VP needs a good measure of humility in order to be the ‘second fiddle.’

    On the Republican side, in order to get elected McCain needs to find someone to pick up the voters he did not do well with (part of the reason I doubt Pawlenty is a good choice for this election). I can’t imagine I’ll be pleased with McCain’s choice, but he can hardly do worse than the current VP, Dr. Evil.

  • Alison

    BTW, I don’t want to get too down on MPR. You really do a great job on so many things! Thanks!

  • Amanda

    Being a West Coast transplant, I can say that the local connection trend in media coverage is more than a Midwestern phenomenon. I’d also like to say that I really don’t see anything wrong with it. I like hearing about local connections to big national stories, and these connections do make those stories matter more to me, because they give context. I don’t look for any media, including MPR, to posture itself above making news interesting and locally relevant. I find this attitude that everything needs to be high-minded and cosmopolitan to be snobbish. We live in a great place, and some people who come and go through this state do things of which we can enjoy being proud.

    Pawlenty is a different story. Like many other News Cut readers, I’m not proud of our governor, a party-pandering politician. Unfortunately, that seems to be a fairly successful model in US politics.

    What I look for in a VP candidate is someone who can make the presidential candidate I support more successful, and one who can make the presidential candidate I oppose less successful. I also want the VP candidate for my party to add to the ticket’s overall representation of my views and interests. Of course, s/he should be fully prepared to serve as president. By the time any politician is considered for the VP nomination, they seem to all have the experience needed to serve in that role, at least as much as those vying for the top of the ticket, so I’m a lot more concerned with their positions on the issues most important to me as a voter.

  • c

    // “Knock it off! It’s immature.” //

    You could write off any disaggreement as immature then. What Clinton does to Obama IS immature and that being said, than any joke made in this election would be immature and so on.

    Usually it is the folks who need to point the ‘maturity’ finger at others who need to look in the mirror.

    And how mature were Pawlenty’s budget cut decisions? Not very, in my opinion they were all for the upper class to be more upper. I would have to agree with DB.

  • c

    I like Amanda’s idea of vice president. I think that Hilary has pretty much written herself off as a vice president candidate with her campaigning tactics.

  • Alison

    I wasn’t saying any disagreements were immature. I was saying that suggestions of ‘we Minneostans deserve credit for this too’ when we clearly don’t are immature (as when my kids try to grab attention when the other one gets more than them).

    I don’t think it’s snobbish at all. MN journalists should make the MN connection when one exists, the key – a real connection should actually exist.

  • c

    I think that the connection making of Minnesota is just part of the report. saying “hey the gal that wrote Juno actually lived here for awhile.” Its just a statement. I have never made some connection that Minnesota is a better place because she lived here or we people who live in Minnesota must be cool because she lived her and wrote that story while she lived here and I have never made the connection that Minnesota must breed better writers because she came from here.

    I don’t quite understand your grievance of Minnesota connection. I think its really just a statement.

  • c

    I think that the whole minnesota connection is just a statement.

    I have never felt that when a reporter makes a comment such as Garnett played for the wolves? and the gal that wrote Juno lived in minnesota made Minnesota a better place to live or that Minnesotans breed better writers, I think it is just a statement. I really do not understand the Minnesota “connection” grievance.

  • bsimon

    The question posed is an interesting one. Generally I think Gov Pawlenty would be an asset on the ticket, though I don’t think he would ‘deliver’ Minnesota for the GOP. I think T-Paw would play well with the social conservatives, which is one aspect of his political career that makes him that much more attractive as a running-mate. Whether you agree with his politics or not, its hard to deny that Pawlenty has been very effective at both rallying the GOP base and attracting enough swing voters to win.

    As to whether he’s ready to be President, I’d say that Gov Pawlenty would be a better President than Lt Gov Molnau would be a Governor…

  • Jamie

    Well, probably nobody will read this now that the day is over, but I have to add a couple more cents-worth, just in case. I, too, get frustrated with the news media always having to make the MN connection. I also am frustrated with MPR sort of taking over Morning Edition and All Things Considered. They introduce each half-hour, report what’s coming up in the next time slot as though MPR did the story, or was involved in doing it (“And WE’ll have xyz national story…”). Or they’ll preempt NPR stuff to cover a local story (I’ve heard the theme music introducing a fave segment, listener comments, for example, only to have a local person interrupt with a local story I don’t care about).

    Also (and this is even more off topic), I was glad to see someone above say something about how BOTH Obama and Clinton trade barbs, because so many people, including the news media, make it sound like it’s only Clinton who ever criticizes her opponent. They BOTH do it. I think Obama does it more, but because he SAYS he is above the fray, everyone just takes his word for it. In fact, the media report his rhetoric like it’s the truth all the time. It’s a well-worn Republican/Rovian tactic, to say you’re a different kind of politician who will make Washington DC operate differently, all the while wrestling in the mud at least as much as any other candidate. Obama uses other Republican tactics, too. Then I was sorry to see the same old “Clinton’s the bad guy…” thing posted by someone else.

  • Bob Collins

    I stand corrected. It obviously isn’t time to consider whether Tim Pawlenty is ready to be a good president. (g)

  • c

    // It obviously isn’t time to consider whether Tim Pawlenty is ready to be a good president. (g)//

    The idea of Tim Pawlenty as President/VP scares the begeezes out of me. (I am assuming that the meaning of begeezes is along the lines of ‘living daylights’) I hear some people say that they’re totally ok with Pawlenty running for VP as it will get him out of Minnesota. But what if McCain and Pawlenty won? You would be living under a Vengeful Rule. I have had enough of this Wrath of the Bush Regime. I want change. I want peace. It’s time we try something different than the same old insanity of instilling fear into the people. Teh Bush administration promotes fear of things that haven’t even happened yet.

    Pawlenty ready?

  • Heather

    I couldn’t think of a finer man in the presidency. He is intelligent, sophisticated, balanced, stately, and knows how to manage money. He was able to get our state out of serious financial debt and into a surplus budget. I will vote for him.