When Gov. Dayton doesn’t compute

Anyone who’s ever watched politicians get questions they didn’t have answers for had to know that Gov. Mark Dayton was heading for the rocks almost immediately after he got a question on MPR’s Daily Circuit the other day about a subject that has little to do with politics or policy.

Kerri Miller asked the governor about the number of incidents Minnesota Vikings — and other NFL — players get into in strip joints at 2 in the morning.

Now, if you’re ever elected to office, readers, and a talk show host asks you to comment about why players get into trouble at 2 a.m. in strip joints, one response might be: “I don’t know. I’ve never been in a strip joint at 2 a.m.” (Optional alternative: “I don’t know; I’ve never been in a strip joint before.”)

In his response — the audio of which is below — you can almost hear Dayton thinking about listening to the voice in his head that had to be screaming “Danger, Will Robinson!” But he went ahead anyway and paid the usual price.


“It means that young males who are heavily armored and heavily psyched as necessary to carry out their job are probably more susceptible to be in bars at 2 o’clock in the morning and have problems, or DUIs. It doesn’t excuse it, it just says that it probably comes with it,” Dayton said.

That would’ve been a good place to stop, but he kept going:

“It’s basically slightly civilized war, and then they take that into society, much as solders come back, and they’ve been in combat or the edge of it and then suddenly that adjustment back to civilian life is a real challenge.”

That’s the kind of thing that can push talk of balanced budgets, same-sex marriage amendments, voter ID, and a governor’s morning prayer rituals off to the side, and put a bruise on the forehead of a handler from banging it on the desk. Sure enough, it took seconds for it to sweep across the country, including the Washington Post


Clearly, that would explain Marshawn Lynch’s DUI charge, which resulted from him nearly hitting two other vehicles while driving in the wrong lane on an Oakland, Calif. highway.

And working in a “civilized war” environment is obviously what led Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil to allegedly pull out a gun during an argument with another driver while both vehicles were stuck in Miami Beach traffic.

Ted Glover of the Daily Norseman said demanding an apology on behalf of combat veterans would be “as stupid as the comments that Dayton made. I just want people to quit comparing sports to war.”

And then he provided one of the best responses with this graphic:

Ah_-_Nevermind_medium.gif

In his “apology” today, Dayton compounded his woes by trying to identify its legitimacy.


“In a recent interview, I was asked why so many professional football players had difficulties off the field. I made a poor analogy, by saying that the psychological adjustments they have to make from their contests to normal society were not unlike the difficulties experienced by returning veterans.

“Some of the psychological dynamics may be similar; however, I, in no way, meant to compare their challenges with the traumas and hardships experienced by the heroes who fought in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. While I am a football fan, I reserve my highest respect and admiration for those courageous Americans in uniform, who risk their lives to keep us safe and to make the world more free.

“I regret my mistake, and I apologize for it.”

There is, of course, no equal comparison between a football player and a combat veteran and in honest moments, few people likely think that the governor can’t make that distinction.

Likely, he was referring to the “fight or flight” response that is dictated by adrenalin, and is particularly at work in combat situations. But it works with you, too, even though that doesn’t make you a combat veteran.

None of that can be explained on a talk show in which you got a question you weren’t expecting.

That’s why a good politician punts in that situation.

  • Tyler

    There is, of course, no equal comparison between a football player and a combat veteran

    I dunno…there’s been an awful lot of talk lately about the amount of brain damage in the NFL. But the odds of that study getting any funding – comparing discharged vets to retired athletes – is between zip and zilch.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Intelligent ideas.

    Dumb to say them.

    Good apology.

    And finally – “That’s why a good politician punts in that situation.”

    Very nice. Most writers spend their entire lives dreaming of being able to deliver an apropos aphoristic metaphor like that.

    :-)

  • Bob Collins

    // odds of that study getting any funding

    Actually, the NFL is relying very much on the Department of Defense research on this.

    But on the private scale, it’s being done by the Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, thanks in large part to the families of athletes who’ve donated their loved ones’ brains.

  • Joseph

    “I dunno…there’s been an awful lot of talk lately about the amount of brain damage in the NFL. But the odds of that study getting any funding – comparing discharged vets to retired athletes – is between zip and zilch.”

    Wow. So you compare one aspect of injuries that combat veterans suffer to the most prevelant issue in the NFL and think that makes them equal?

    As an active duty service member, I’m here to tell you that whatever football players have to deal with is NOTHING in comparison to what soldiers go through. I promise you.

    TBI is just a part of a much larger issue of medical issues that vets have to live with for the rest of their lives. The most obvious being amputees and burn injuries. Then, when you add that these vets are coming back with PTSD, on top of other combat-related injuries, it doesn’t even compare.

    Now I may have read more into your post than I should have, and maybe you didn’t really mean to compare the two on a whole, just on the concussion/TBI issues, and if that is the case, I apologize. If not, you’re an ass.

  • Bob Collins

    Any research into TBI has the potential to help a wide array of people.

  • Jamie

    Yeah, I heard that and knew it was going to be a problem. I don’t blame Dayton. I — and most other people — say things we don’t really mean, and we say things that we haven’t thought through, and we make mistakes of all kinds, especially under the kind of pressure there is in a radio interview. And especially when the interviewer continually throws gotcha questions at you, which Kerri Miller does all the time (and which I believe she does more with Democrats than Republicans).

  • Jamie

    Why do you put “apology” in quotation marks? And why do you say this:

    “There is, of course, no equal comparison between a football player and a combat veteran and in honest moments, few people likely think that the governor can’t make that distinction.”

    He didn’t say there is an equal comparison. Also, I don’t know, because of the structure of your sentence, I think (?), what you mean by the last half of the sentence.

    I’m not sure, now that I think about it a little, that Kerri Miller’s question for the governor was a legitimate question for him. It WAS though, a good gotcha question for him.