James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A successful sting by Timmy Do-right

If you wonder how we've come to the sorry state we're in, there's a news story in the Star Tribune (Aug. 16, page B6) that answers the question, though that certainly is not the intent of the reporter nor of the pollsters whose new results he passes on.

A poll by SurveyUSA over the previous weekend shows that in the wake of the Hwy. I35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's approval rating is at an all-time high, the Strib reported.

The poll says 59 percent of Minnesotans now approve of “the job Pawlenty is doing.”

Last month, the the Strib says, the same polling firm found that 53 percent of Minnesotans approved of right-wing Tim's job performance – which was, in itself, enough to demonstrate the appalling ignorance of the average citizen.

The bridge disaster and Pawlenty's follow-the-script public appearances immediately after that happened accounts for the big jump in the approval rating, the Strib and various experts agree.

Big whoop.

It's the same phenomenon that gave us Rudolph (Screw the Emergency Workers) Giuliani as a presidential candidate who must be taken seriously.

Go to the disaster site, stick out your jaw, puff up your chest in your best imitation of Dudley Do-right. With sad eyes and somber voice, express sympathy for the survivors and the families and friends of victims. Switch to firm voice and vow that everything humanly possible will be done to see things right, to get to the bottom of the problem, to repair the damage, to make the city/state/nation whole again.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Keep the promises vague.

It is entirely possible, sometimes probable, that office holders following that well-worn routine are genuinely sorrowful and sympathetic. But it's hard to tell who really cares for the people hurt by whatever disaster it is and who is simply going through the motions while focusing privately on covering his or her exposed ass.

What should matter is what led to the mess and what happens next – but by the time facts are available and something actually is done to address the situation, the public is on to other things, or absorbed by the sad tales of broken families and uplifting tales of heroism with which television, radio and newspapers bombard us.

Facts? We don't need no stinkin' facts.

The public goes for it every time, regardless of the history of Dudley Politico.

In our case, Tim Pawlenty is a right-wing bobo who has done all in his power as governor and as a leading legislator working on behalf of the no-tax fanatics to undermine Minnesota's infrastructure.

Now he's pushing like crazy to rush the building of a replacement bridge without proper consideration for design, structural longevity, possible accommodation for transit and without clear safeguards for environmental and worker safety and rights.

Hey, we have a Republican National Convention coming next year, and Tim wants a national role so badly he's embarrassing himself playing to those with power in the party. He wants that bridge up, or at least well underway by the time the neocons and “social issue” nutters get here.

The bridge collapse probably can't be laid directly at his feet, although some recommended near-emergency repairs on the now-fallen structure were rejected by his equally fanatical anti-tax transportation commissioner (and lieutenant governor).

Pawlenty's ever-so-amusing predecessor, rassler Jessie Ventura, also took big whacks at budgets for bridge and road repair in order to cut license-plate fees on costly, over-sized gas guzzlers, which he prefers to drive.

Both The (brainless) Body and Pawlenty got plenty of support from the Republicans who controlled the Legislature until this year.

Still, there's no question that “staying the course” on Pawlenty's program could only lead to more collapses in the future, and until the Minneapolis bridge killed people, he wasn't about to give an inch on his screw-the-public program.

But, having done the Do-right thing, here he is, at the top of the polls.

And the people who think he's doing a heckuva job are the body politic, the voters of Minnesota.

Do you wonder that the republic is eroding at the rate of many a Minnesota lake shore?