When I worked in the newspaper editorial business, we had a cute name for the kind of piece we’d have to write on a day like today: STW, or “Shoot the wounded.” It acknowledged, implicitly anyway, that we weren’t performing a particularly courageous or useful function. Other people were the ones who had to stay up all night, take risks, make deals, put their careers on the line. We had the luxury of getting a good night’s sleep and then coming down out of the hills once the fight was finished to pick over the remains and second-guess the decisions of others.
(There are other kinds of stock editorials, so routine that we made up acronyms for them. One was the DMM; it stood for “Drink more milk,” and referred to any kind of editorial that urges a noncontroversial civic good. I hear that the same kind of editorial is referred to in Wisconsin as an EMC. Get it?)
I did not stay up all night to monitor the legislative process that now has brought our sorry shutdown to a close. But the news this morning has been fascinating. My vote for the best quote of the morning goes to Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook: “Gov. Dayton reluctantly took your plan. He took your plan on tobacco bonds. He took your plan on borrowing from our kids. You didn’t have to tax those millionaires. You win, and Minnesotans lose.”
That is what’s called staying on message. The Democrats will do everything they can to make sure you hear, over and over, that the plan the Legislature passed is a Republican one. Most of them won’t be quite as descriptive as Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, who said, “I’m going to go home and take a long, long shower to wipe the stain of this legislative session off of me.” For my taste, that’s a little over the top.
Trying to spin the story in the other direction, House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, adopted the role of statesman: “Every red vote is a vote to continue the shutdown. We need to get Minnesota back to work. We need to stop pointing fingers.”
So there you have them, the core messages we’ll be living with for a while: “You keep pointing at me,” “I’m only doing what you made me do,” “You wanted to keep Minnesotans out of work,” “You make me want to take a shower.” Sigh.
Unfortunately for the Democratic message, Gov. Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie were unable to control their facial muscles during the bill signing this morning. They did what politicians do when signing bills: They smiled. Oops: