On Friday, May 24th at approximately 11:45 a.m. at the Town & Country country club in St. Paul, Stanley Hubbard will draw unto himself a number of people with money which, they believe, gives them insight--if not entitlement--into the political process in Minnesota to decide which republican candidate to support for governor.
You're not invited.
Norm "I couldn't beat a third rate comic" Coleman is, however. Someone should break it to him that he's a has been and his Minnesota Action Network the subject of widespread derision and scorn. I'd ask Laura Brod to do so but I'm assuming with the demise of National Popular Vote in this legislative session she's off to sell herself to whatever next cause pays best.
The problem with being a protege is always the mentor.
Jeff Larson, of FLS infamy and former Chief of Staff (who knew?) to the RNC (the rules of which from last August seems to make Jeff Johnson think he'll win the GOP gubernatorial endorsement) will also be in attendance. Nothing says fresh like this stale bought & paid for fish. "How may I help you help me make money?" He makes the talentless Greg Peppin look like the piker he is. One wonders if the "not waiving but drowning" Kurt Daudt will work again for P2B Strategies in between sessions? One hopes not; it was an egregious mistake for him to have done so in the first instance.
The senate isn't worth speaking about.
Weirdly, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson is also expected to be in attendance. I haven't figured out why he'll be there unless it's to help show others with money that with dumb luck and a Tea Party speech you, too, can buy higher office. Don't get me wrong: democrats routinely buy higher office and we should as well. Our dumbest are smarter than their smartest.
Quite a number of other unremarkable people with money were invited to show up and are expected to perform as instructed. Trained barking seals come to mind. Like the mail clerk who marries the daughter of the creepy hearing aid founder and thinks himself something. Good enough to be finance director for the MNGOP. Yes, that and no further. Intelligence simply must count at some point. Given our track record in that regard, however, I'm not optimistic.
Besides falling in behind one candidate (does this mean they don't like Scott Honour?) the group seeks, according to the invitation, to channel their financial largesse into some sort of coordinated giving. Think of it as United Way for the white shoe crowd.
All of this begs the question why these otherwise (financially at least) successful people can't think for themselves. Or maybe they can and it just so happens that all their thoughts converge. Unlikely, that.
Maybe this is Stanley Hubbard's opportunity to shove aside the hapless "we are totally *not* Bob Cummins' plaything" Freedom Club? If that club knew anything about freedom, it would free itself from Cummins. But don't you know how much money he gives? Yes and that's another post for another day. It's unclear how many in the Freedom Club know about this upcoming gathering. Yet I find myself wanting both groups to lose. It's like that Cabaret Voltaire line: "money makes up for what you lack." Except in politics it doesn't because it cannot.
The in-gathering of Hubbard's buzzards rankles particularly when one thinks of the Cipher Candidate™ Mike McFadden, who has yet to announce but whom the DC establishment (read House banking scandal--125 overdrawn checks-- cur turned now life-long thick in the waist lobbyist Vin Weber) is set to foist upon the rank and file rubes as our senate candidate. McFadden has money (made in that ethical field of real estate) so why not play into the stereotype and support him? Our pre-positioned hacks will make lots of money. And whenever a lack of ethics is involved, Cullen Sheehan is never far behind. The rest of you can pretend to feel involved, without compensation naturally.
Image above: Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of wealth & prosperity. Click to enlarge. For Bill Krause, @KrauseBill
The idea of being judged at all, let's get that out of the way, is fairly anathema to Minnesota media. And why should it not be? They hardly police themselves because they're all in on the game, yo. And no organization or ad hoc collection of activists on a sustained basis exists from which to cast a cold eye upon the manner and style of that which they do cover, to say nothing of the infinitely more important topic of those things they knowingly do not cover. Their sins of commission pale in contrast to their sins of omission. What isn't covered is very important but it is akin to what hasn't happened to ourselves: very few of us awake grateful we didn't die during the night. Few indeed are those antiquated things known as letters to the editors railing about stories not given coverage. Most likely those letters never get published in the first instance by which the snake swallows its tail.
No, for some reason media in Minnesota have had a relative pass from scrutiny and, worse, accountability. Mind you, this has hardly made them better, sharper, faster, more serious. To the contrary, with notable exceptions, local media are stale, predictable, thin skinned and insulting to educated citizens. They don't mean to be, it's just whom they've become. With editors, to the extent they exist in any meaningful sense, obtuse and politically correct to a fare thee well, the average reporter will do as their "news" environment suggests. This is understandable; when it comes to examining media conduct a clinical, almost anthropological approach is best, less "Coming of Age in Samoa" than "Tristes Tropiques."
The small clutch of political reporters in Minnesota lean demonstrably left and most of them are nice people. In Minnesota, being certified nice has the effect of shutting down any criticism or substantive discussion. The effect of this is to leave us awash in mediocrity from our playwrights & theater to education to political leaders to food. Certain exceptions obtain but mostly to reinforce the overarching blandness. It's as if Minnesotans like what they know and know what they like and you can go back to where you came from, thanks, if you don't care for it. Minnesota nice is cultural propofol. The movie "Fargo" wrote itself mostly by the Coen brothers simply being awake.
Against this background Minnesota media criticism is fraught with peril. Egregious mistakes are welcomed to be pointed out because this provides a cost-free veneer of professionalism and objectivity. Anything more advanced is unwelcome despite what might be said by any given reporter on Twitter. And it is on Twitter that the need for corrective action in the content, style and subject matter of local reporting shows itself most acutely. I've previously written that Twitter is a kill box for journalists; that piece can be readhere.The savviest use of Twitter by a journalist, in my view, is Jim VandeHei's. He co-founded the once promising, now lazy redoubt of yet another liberal media organ Politico. He follows no one and the number of his tweets is zero. Why bother? VandeHei monitors the environment of Twitter without allowing it to reveal himself. His peers would have done well to emulate his example early on but it's far too late now, the admixture of being where it's at and ego proving far too seductive to resist.
Consequently, traditional reporters and journalists are a bit aghast at being called out. They haven't realized how much of themselves they have given away on Twitter. But there you have it and things aren't going back to a time where they--and we--were not on Twitter. Careful observers can practically predict what individual reporters will cover and the manner, slant and style of their product. Interaction with them on Twitter is a milieu all its own, at times having self-abasing protocols that rival those at court of the Sun King. It's an article of faith among republican staffers that if they suck up to reporters they'll get better coverage. No. Of course everyday common courtesy should be the norm. Amusingly, one reporter told a mutual friend that I was mean. This has to be decoded from the Minnesotan: I say what I think. I know myself well enough by now (and at the risk of appearing Stuart Smalley-ish) to have no doubt that I'm a nice guy who genuinely likes other people from either side of the aisle and possesses something of a sense of humor. So, like her reporting, I didn't take her remark seriously. Hope that doesn't sound mean!
Local media, then, should be judged by the same standards we judge national media but, perhaps, with an allowance for just how peculiar the state is; few others have an iconic film made about them but then this leads us into what I've termed Lars Leafbladism™: a mindless, feel good, uncritical regard for ourselves and all things Minnesota nice whose political default position is shallow, received, unsophisticated liberalism. Leafbladism™ is the nurse who administers the propofol.
The debate and passage of same sex marriage showed local media at their worst: cheerleading, fawning of those (five) republicans who supported it, saddled with lazy stories about Bob & Ted, Carol & Alice. If the personal is political (a category error of enormous magnitude but a conventional premise among the left) and they report on the personal they've just committed political journalism. Right? Except of course they haven't but they can't see that. This explains why they cover with relish the sad sack stories trotted out before various legislative committees: it's all of a piece. How foreign to them, then, is criticism that says they aren't really doing their job. Or at least not well, not with vigor and rationality and a bit of skepticism toward the narrative served up by democrats. Admittedly, though, it's hard to criticize one's own.
Local political television is its own tale of woe. "Almanac" and "At Issue" routinely offer nothing new, nothing edgy, nothing that engages a viewer in search of intellectual stimulation. The same guests, the same format, the same talking points, the same lack of vitality in questioning week in and week out. One only needs to know the name of the "guests" (most of whom by now probably have their own reserved-by-name parking spot) to know the arc of the show and to know that, yet again, they'll miss nothing by not watching. I also believe, call me crazy, that producers deliberately get the weakest representatives from the republican side and, to be fair, they are legion. Perhaps producers should take a risk (the concept is foreign to them) and have others on their shows. The result might actually be interesting, worth watching.
There is a dark side to the local media's reflexively tilted coverage in Minnesota and that is their complicity in not covering stories that would reflect badly on the DFL, democrat politicians or the general progressive narrative. It's as though they think the rest of us believe that what is covered actually constitutes, pace Walter Cronkite, "the way it is." The loss of media monopoly is admitted but not recognized by them. Gov. Dayton's lecture to the Humphrey School last fall is a telling case in point. I appeared something of a mad man in asking for the video that local television stations possessed but deliberately chose (but for 15 seconds) not to air or make available to the public. Then again, local media are strangely incurious about Dayton's routine, sudden, one day illnesses that are announced at the last minute. If he were unfit to govern, or even partially so, our friends in the media would be the last to let us know. Because, for the slow of thought, he's a democrat. Were he a republican, local media would puff and preen and insist that their inquiries were perfectly reasonable, no! demanded by their obligation to the general public to inform, truth to power and all the other myths they tell themselves.
Sustained coverage of the coverage is long over due in Minnesota. I have some ideas in that regard but the point now is simply to establish a marker, a standard, some sort of benchmark. Unfair criticism of media is welcomed by them because it is used to discredit fair criticism. This is an old trick but an effective one.
No, the focus must be on media product which can consist of a few elements examined repeatedly over time: story choice, angle, use of sources, failure to disclose important facts (liberal funding of "studies" is a good one), and that not-so-ephemeral quality known as even handedness. Forget about quality of writing (there's a fool's errand) or production values (suicide inducing) and center on what is now lacking in Minnesota media coverage: balance and fairness. I don't expect media per se not to consist mainly of liberals. I do hold out hope that by being observed in public in a sustained way they will internalize notions of those things to which they only now give lip service: neutrality, objectivity and honesty.
Last Friday evening I attended the MinnPost Roast 2013 as the guest of former republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. Koch is both a friend as well as a client. She was one of several individual and ensemble acts that performed throughout the night. As republicans there was something of the "in the belly of the beast" feel to the evening but nothing that wasn't able to be surmounted by good will and a sense of humor. The evening couldn't have been better if I had learned Israel bombed Iran.
Koch had humor in spades. Going onstage relatively early at the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis, she was effortlessly unselfconscious and completely hilarious. People might say I'm not objective about this because we are friends but I have many friends about which I've remained objective, including in a public way on this blog. Koch, as I tweeted that night, brought down the house with her funny, perfectly pitched routine which she wrote herself. She alone out of everyone who appeared onstage that night did so without notes. People know when they are in the presence of a natural and last Friday night the elite of the DFL knew it as well, many not for the first time. I consciously but at times with difficulty pushed away thoughts of "what if" and stayed in the moment.
Other DFL politicians and activists performed and I found myself smiling at them and otherwise having something of an out of body experience. Sen. Franken was but two seats away; he was oddly flat onstage and tethered to notecards he seemed to be racing to get through. I did manage to get a nice picture of him & Koch, though. Sen. Klobuchar was quite self-deprecating to my mind but I know her personally not at all. Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak performed well as did St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman, each with their very different demeanors but both being themselves and enjoying it. Governor Mark Dayton came on toward the end of the show, together with his press spokesman Katie Tinucci and did a perfectly adequate job of speaking a few lines while Tinucci essentially performed--quite well--a one woman show.
The after party at the Chambers Hotel was equally fun, giving us more time to visit with the loyal opposition. We happened upon Tom Horner and Jim Graves which proved amusing in an altogether different way than the stage show. Graves took a sudden, strong interest in me when I located myself in the political firmament by saying I was Andy Parrish's attorney. He asked to have lunch, instantly pressing his card into my hand. I look forward to it but am wistful about what is surely a downward slide in my fortunes: trafficking in Andy Parrish's reputation. On the upside, if you can't have good food at lunch with Jim Graves you can't have it anywhere in the Twin Cities.
We also had an opportunity to visit with former Sen. Ember Reichgott, a frequent commentator on local Twin Cities political news shows. She was as pleasant and nice in person as she appears to be on tv and radio. In passing she expressed admiration for Brian McClung recently coming out in support of same sex marriage and termed it courageous. She was fascinated when I said I didn't think taking such a position now involved much courage. Other republicans had done so when it was risky--Jake Loesch is probably the best example--and then, some time after, came Sen. Branden Pederson and Pat Anderson. I said taking a position in favor of traditional marriage was now the courageous thing, given the shower of praise from media any given republican receives for supporting same sex marriage. She believed me, believed I was serious in my observation but was struck nonetheless.
What must Reichgott think of my party, I wondered after our discussion ended, moving further amidst the beautiful people dressed mostly in black? Is it all Torquemada all the time? Does she think there's a certain suffocating orthodoxy imposed and from which deviations are acutely punished? We all understand the stereotypes of both major parties. What was striking to me was that as sophisticated an observer of the scene as Reichgott was surprised by a not particularly surprising revelation of how things actually are in the Minnesota Republican Party. How off base, then, am I and many others about the DFL? Maybe we need to get out more together? Within reason, naturally.
We don't, though, and there's the problem. Republicans are routinely sought for the Minn Post Roast and its organizers have great difficulty finding any. Yes, Minn Post is filled with a lot of retired Star Tribune and Pioneer Press employees but our absence isn't going to do anything to help them think about issues (or republicans) somewhat differently. Schmoozing isn't going to change policy positions; it might help us understand each other better and on our own terms, the best kind of understanding.
I thought the same thing when the week prior I attended the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival to watch Mira Nair's movie adaptation of the well regarded book by Mohsin Hamid "The Reluctant Fundamentalist." Screen after screen of sponsors were shown before the movie began. Not one of them was remotely conservative. What, the Freedom Club couldn't have sent $500 to get a spot?
It's not that hard; the bar is very low. Still we republicans fail.
The point is that by ceding so many fields we play on very few and increasingly just to ourselves. Democrats do that to some extent but to the degree the larger cultural arena is friendly to them (if not owned outright) our absence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of increasing marginalization.
Minn Post deserves congratulations on putting together a splendid evening of fun and enjoyment. Perhaps next year, instead of one talented, brave, and delightful republican on stage, we could provide several. Doing so would surprise both sides of the aisle.
Margaret Thatcher was buried today in a funeral ceremony at renowned St. Paul's Cathedral in London attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen last attended the funeral of a non-royal in 1965 when she was present for similar rites for Winston Churchill.
Thatcher was an extraordinary political figure whose place in history is assured. That place is one of honor and accomplishment.
Her most vicious detractors do not warrant a response or serious engagement. It is apparent to all but the most invincibly ignorant or ideological that 2013 Great Britain would be impossible without her election in 1979 and subsequent governance through 1990. The unremarkable, unimpressive men who followed her in No. 10 Downing were but variations on her theme, the theme known loosely as Thatcherism. They, and each of them, suffer by comparison to her.
This is not to say she was beyond criticism: no elected leader is and Thatcher would have been among the first to say so, to welcome criticism and debate about how to keep a free people free, how to unleash their economic power for their own well-being and how to avoid suffocation by bloated, crushing government set up by mandarins pretending to know best while deliberately putting themselves out of reach of the programs they enact and foist on others.
Some ideas are right; others quite wrong. It's not just in America that the banality of compromise and meeting half way holds sway. Some ideas and the consequences of them needs must be rejected outright. Thatcher's genius was having the courage to speak the truth to the governing, corrosive, poisonous lies of her domestic political milieu.
The peoples of Eastern Europe are especially in her debt and readily, gratefully acknowledge such. The end of that monstrous, wicked, thoroughly evil enterprise known as the USSR would have been impossible without her. Of course, she is grouped with President Reagan and Pope John Paul II in this regard and rightly so. Those three helped bring freedom to more people in one general time than ever before in human history.
Thatcher stands as an enduring rebuke to all things collectivist, in personal or public life, except for the collective action of free peoples where ever they may be found in the world in support of maintaining and defending that freedom. The mute presence of her Sovereign at today's farewell is the most eloquent testimony possible to that fact.
The entire ceremony may be viewed by clickinghere.
Click on the above photo to enlarge.
Tonight I attended as a guest of Gov. Julianne Ortman (NQY: not quite yet) the Lincoln Reagan dinner hosted annually by the Minnesota Republican Party. Remember them? It was held at the hotel which most resembles Stalin, the Minneapolis Hilton Hotel. NO floor contains a bike path. Can you believe it?
The dinner represents pretty much the people who don't necessarily need nor want to get into the State Central Committee but influence it as much as possible. Think of the Minnesota Republican Party a fish out of water, gasping.
Yet it was anything but tonight.
The highlight came without warning from a man most of the crowd had either written off or didn't know of really to begin with. With my friend Pat Shortridge, I'm somewhere in between. However, he'll most likely return my calls whenever for a decent time in the future. Send the bill to Golnik.
But Shortridge didn't make his place in party history tonight by talking about the future. He talked about the recent past.
Shortridge rubbed our noses in it.
Almost without knowing it, Shortridge said outloud about ourselves publicly what his audience had been saying to each other for some time.
I tweeted the following about what Pat said:
"Standing ovation when Pat Shortridge calls out republicans for allowing our divisions to cause Coleman & Emmer to lose #Truth#LincolnReagan"
My friend, the most competent non-elected Republican woman in Minnesota, Leslie Rosedahl and I discussed who stood first for that comment.
Shortridge suggests he'll have more to say Saturday, when press are allowed in.
I'm doubtful. Tonight's significance escaped even him.
I've been meaning to write a blog post on this evergreen topic for some time. What causes me to do so now is my accidental discovery last night that some house republican communications staffers (and their equivalent) stopped following me on Twitter. I don't use a program that tells me how many people have unfollowed me or how many have decided to follow so this bit of delightful news was completely an accident. Some of them had unfollowed a rather well known friend of mine which bothered him. We have both noted on Twitter, pointedly at times, the messaging failures of the republican house & senate caucus. I'm serenely indifferent to who does or does not follow me on Twitter in the same manner I'm unlikely to care if people take umbrage at what or how I blog. All within reason, of course: your true friends tell you what you may not want to hear. They don't grow many people like that in Minnesota for some reason, to the perpetual astonishment of those of us who move here from other places. My previous blog post brought that truth home again to me with spectacular clarity.
At any rate, cutting off those who critique you probably isn't the best route to improving your job performance but of course that presupposes one wants to improve rather than tread water. The evidence is demonstrably thin in that regard when it comes to republican messaging. As I quipped on Twitter not too long ago: to point out our abject messaging failure is to become the problem. It's as though getting a job on the basis of friendship should not come with the obligation of being competent for the job so given. Friendship should be no bar but being able to get the job done--and being held accountable when it is not--should count just as much at a minimum.
The problem with house communication staffers isn't just (or even mostly!) with them: it's with their bosses. What should this group of young adults do regarding messaging when they can't get an accurate, ongoing read from them? It's too easy--and manifestly unfair--to focus only on minority leader Rep. Kurt Daudt. There are others in leadership and we see nothing from them concerning consistent, strong messaging. Do they think the DFL simply sat on their hands while they were in the minority? The opposite was the case. Where's the rest of house leadership? You don't deserve a future or a position further up the greasy pole by doing nothing and acting virtuous about it. Disheartening as it may be to the rest of leadership (including the failed, disgraced leadership from last session), people are watching. Is it going too far to suggest they are happy to see Daudt up front and struggling in difficult times while doing little or nothing to support him? No. Indeed, that seems to be the very case.
Maybe our messaging problem is cultural, a republican political culture poisoned by the unspeakable mediocrity of Tim Pawlenty such that every republican south of 40 thinks appeasement, pandering and "what's in it for me" is the way to stay in place if not get ahead. If that's all you know, that's all you know. Many want to be the next Brian McClung, as preposterous as that may sound.
Unfortunately, this amounts to a unilateral surrender on our part against a very well messaged, well funded machine on the other side, replete with union strength which tends to repel me but also commands my respect for sheer effectiveness. If I had to call myself out on the matter, I'd confess to liking conservative unions (they used to exist) as opposed to liberal ones; hence the problem isn't with unions per se.
Perversely, in the absence of decent, effective messaging we get nightmares like Rep. Glen Gruenhagen shooting off their deeply ignorant mouths and becoming for a news cycle or two the face of Minnesota republicans. I can't fault entirely the younger set for wanting to be somewhat cautious in the face of such embarrassments. All this does, of course, is underscore the lack of leadership during these dark days of one party, paleo-liberal rule.
The Bellevue Hospital that is the senate, of course, makes the house leadership, caucus & staff look like Madison Avenue on the Mississippi. Sen. David Hann is too busy thinking about running for governor to bother to lead or formulate a consistent message. His right hand man possesses a junior title to the head of senate communications but she seems consistently outflanked by him and by his closeness to the man in erstatz charge. This is a genuine pity because she actually does know how to message. Just our luck the old boys club freezes out yet another talented republican woman. Sen. Dave Thompson is also running for governor so there is no natural interest in the overall welfare of the caucus and its messaging. Apparently being deposed in the Brodkorb lawsuit gives him no pause. That, of course, would take thoughtfulness. Sen. Dave Senjem, having made a hash of the Brodkorb situation and his federal lawsuit, is content to wander the halls being photographed sharpening his pencil with a pocket knife. This isn't entirely true: like Annette! Meeks, he seeks to force taxpayers to fund yet another development boondoggle, this time in Rochester with the destination medical center or whatever horrid moniker the consultants came up with. One assumes she's getting paid now while Senjem will be in some form or another further down the line. Throw in those supporting the corrosive National Popular Vote and we have a party devoid of principle and integrity.
Gov. Dayton is falling in popularity but you wouldn't know it from his supporters in the media. It took Ben Golnik to ferret out the polling data from the middle of yet another disengenuous Star Tribune story. What did republicans do with this important information? Not much. The next time someone criticizes political consultants to my face I'm going to hand them a class picture of the republican caucus in both chambers.
How do republicans start messaging effectively? Thinking is a start and hopefully not too high a hurdle. What do we stand for? Admittedly, after our time in the majority it's not as easy to articulate as it once was. But we can get back to a few solid principles that need not be trotted out here.
How about contrast? The DFL is overreaching in ways that disturbs many on the other side with whom I speak in confidence. It simply isn't difficult to craft a sustained message that this isn't what Minnesota voters were asking for last November. Gov. Dayton got 43% of the vote and many 2012 legislative races were quite close. Couple those facts with the Governor being under-water in the polls and it takes a particularly incompetent group of politicians, staff, activists and hangers-on not to come up with messaging that works.
Timidity, though, may be the biggest obstacle. Even if a good message is created, it has to be used. The image above is a case in point. I first saw something like it on Twitter from a UK Conservative party politician I follow. It had different faces, naturally, and text but the idea was excellent. I brought it to the attention of Derek Brigham & Nancy Laroche who worked their magic and came up with what you see. Succinct. Accurate. Immediately effective.
Naturally the senate and house caucuses did nothing with it. It appeared on the True North blog, was tweeted a few times but never really was utilized.
Too mean, too aggressive we were told. The Pawlenty effect, shall we say. Obviously one graphic does not make for a messaging campaign. Effective messaging requires attentiveness to the other side and its missteps, taking immediate advantage of them in order to discredit them and then pivoting in an advantageous way to one or more of our strengths.
Rep. Sarah Anderson gave me the metaphor of those inside the fishbowl of the legislature (members & staff) and those outside of it. It's a useful metaphor because the mental image is so immediately apparent.
Those of us outside the fishbowl want those on the inside to succeed, do well, achieve. We believe our ideas and policy proscriptions are not only right but good for Minnesota. We are desperate to take back the majority in the house so as to act as a brake to the stale, outdated, failed, nay ruinous liberal ideas being foisted upon us.
Those inside the fishbowl tend to think too highly of themselves and resent it when their glaring failures are pointed out. If an idea doesn't come from within the fishbowl, it will die a lonely death like the graphic above. I have no doubt that those of us on the outside fail at times to appreciate the unique environment in which they work; I say this with all genuine goodwill. I will also hazard a guess that we outsiders cut them more slack and understanding than they do with us. In fact, I've been regaled with tales of what they think and say about us. Really, those with such thin skins & insecure psyches ought not to be anywhere near politics.
Fishbowls are transparent, however. Those inside appear oblivious to the fact that we see what they do and don't do. This seems to be one of those hard truths those guppies can't quite accept.
Here's another: it's you who are accountable to us, not the other way around.
Cam Winton, pictured above shilling for Ashwin Madia outside a 2008 Obama rally in Minneapolis, this week announced his candidacy for the mayor of Minneapolis. Far too many local republican activists were taken in by his claim to have suddenly--and without any evidence--become a republican. Except he hasn't, really, and has said so depending upon which news outlet he is speaking to at the moment. Dissembling, it's good to know, will be a priority in this charlatan's campaign.
Winton fought hard to defeat republican Erik Paulsen in 2008 as democrat candidate Ashwin Madia's treasurer. Hideous Nancy Pelosi was brought to Minnesota's third congressional district in the left's strenuous effort to defeat Paulsen.
A scant two years ago Winton was moderating a debate between two far left loons vying to run against Paulsen, one of whom responded to a question as to how to get the American economy going again by demanding we immediately get off our "oil addiction." Intellectual bankruptcy is the sine qua non of Winton's provenance. The debate can be viewed by clickingherebut be prepared to lose some brain cells. These are his people; he's one with them. And no, nothing has changed except perhaps the quality of snake oil now being peddled to credulous Minneapolis voters who should know better.
What, precisely, has happened in the last two years for this banal progressive to have had a political epiphany? A buyout of the "wind energy" company for which he was a lawyer and the introduction of ranked choice voting in the mayoral race. Having seen up close with Madia how little it takes to get ahead in democrat politics, Winton doubtless thought he could position himself as some sort of new, fresh face in the mayoral election, taking advantage of ranked choice voting (RCV) being used for the first time. Cornering the market on those ignorant enough to self-identify as republicans would be crucial in him slipping through to victory. They're so hungry, why not feed them? It's not like they'd expect him to keep his word or be a conservative in any meaningful sense.
Had Cam Winton remained a far left progressive, or tacked to some sort of ersatz independent position, all would be well. Dishonesty, however, should not be rewarded and he has dishonestly and repeatedly claimed he is now a republican. Oddly, he just as frequently claims he's not a member of either party. If that doesn't bother you then check your integrity meter.
He recently has parachuted into Rough Riders meetings and said what that audience wanted to hear from him. He's done the same with the Freedom Club. Maybe we can get him as a featured speaker at an upcoming Elephant Club luncheon and republican foolishness will be complete? Kelly, call Cam! A photo opportunity awaits. Our republican future, of course, won't come from either three of these useless groups but in the thinnest of rebranding attempts one supposes they are essential to the slight of hand. Desperate times, Mrs. Lovett and all that.
Winton trots out three letters to the editors as somehow tracing the arc of his political realignment. He must think republicans are as stupid as democrats if he believes they do anything of the kind, at least persuasively. The first, in September 2010, can be readhereand deals with his objection to a 7.5% property tax increase. Winton himself characterizes this letter as showing he realized he no longer fit in in the DFL. Naturally it does no such thing. The second, in November 2010, deals with the same subject in the context of eliminating, essentially, some fat or non-essential programs from the budget funded by said property tax increase. Winton doesn't characterize this letter as anything in particular, which is true. It can be read by clicking here.
Anyone reading these two letters and waiting for a "scales from the eyes, how could I have been so ignorant lo these many years j'accuse" will be left waiting.
The third letter, in July 2011, is characterized by Winton as occurring when he'd fully made the transition to the GOP. No, really. Read this letter by clickinghere.[It's the second letter; the first is, comically, about pedestrians and bike paths.] He writes that he disagrees with most of Gov. Dayton's political beliefs. So do most outstate DFLers. He asks for name calling to stop and expresses admiration for Jim Walsh, reporter of things locally musical for several decades now. I'm surprised he didn't quote The Boss in a spasm of enthusiasm.
Let's give Winton an enormous benefit of the doubt: by July 2011 he'd fully migrated to the GOP. What did he do next? It's hard to tell as the record is bare. Usually converts of any kind get caught up in the new environment which they've embraced. There is one $500 donation to the RPM in late 2011 and another of the same amount in late 2012. He's been thinking of running with republican support for some time, apparently, bought rather cheaply. But hey, they're buying it!
Nowhere on his Facebook page does he identify himself as either a new republican or an old DFL hack. The race is non-partisan, you see. Right. Click here to see his FB page.
Nowhere on his campaign website does he show the slightest republican belief. Vapid even by Minneapolis standards, the website is thick with cloying phraseology and Portlandia sentimentalism. This isn't the website of a leader with a principled center; it's one for whom anything can or will be said to anyone in order to exploit ranked choice voting. It's not that I don't admire cunning; I do.
His Twitter account shows a whopping 64 tweets to date. Of the three in 2012 only one deals with politics: "Thanks to all #mngop12 tweeters - very helpful for those of us who couldn't be there today."
You're welcome Cam: you did nothing to stop the destruction of the republican party by Ron Paul supporters but perhaps you weren't fully parasitical yourself yet.
Did Winton do anything for any republican in 2012? I'd love to know. I've found nothing. I know virtually all of the republican activists in Minneapolis and CD 5.
Remember conservative & liberal outrage over red light camera legislation? Cam's ok with it because, you know, longer yellow lights and a dash of due process. Here's Mr. Leadership's answer to a question on Twitter about the subject: "MN Supr. Ct. ruled unconstit. in '07 so moot if no new law. If so, make sure yellow longer & non-driver owner can contest. U?"
See? He's a technocrat and these things can be tweaked. No principles are involved. I especially like how he asks the questioner what they think. The word oleaginous comes to mind.
He flatly stated in a radio interview that he was not a republican. You can listen to it by clickinghere.Letters to the editor & talking to elected officials pretty much constitutes his prior political involvement, he says in a moment of less than candor. Weirdly, no mention of wanting to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker again by being Madia's treasurer. Go figure. He's said elsewhere he's not a republican and usually hides behind the nonpartisan nature of the Minneapolis mayor's race.
He is. He isn't. Dessert topping. Floor wax.
Winton's friend, mindless liberal Joe Bodell, whom I've debated on FOX 9 before (when he wasn't interrupting viewpoints he disagreed with) wrote about his entry into the mayoral race with a headline: "Minneapolis Mayoral Race Gets Its First Republican. Kind Of." It can be read by clicking here and republicans really should make a point of doing so. Liberals know their own kind and what it takes, in Joe's opinion, for Cam to get the endorsement he now claims not to want is instructive.
Cam Winton has a lot to prove and resents being asked to do so. His thin skinned supporters on Twitter are of a piece with the attitude that someone who worked for years to take out a popular, moderate republican congressman should somehow not be required to do, say and show more than he has thus far. In this world, I'm the problem.
I'm fully aware of those who Winton claims support him: Pat Shortridge, Zack Freimark, Janet Beihoffer, Jeff Johnson, Bill Guidera (who makes Paulsen look decisive), Sheila Franey, "mega-donor" Ron Schutz & "mega-donor" Scott Honour.
I could care less. Groupthink is a hall mark of liberals and one Winton is hard wired to invoke.
David Mamet famously wrote an article titled "Why I Am No Longer A Brain Dead Liberal." Winton could benefit from reading it but could never write one of his own. Because, at heart, he still is.
Correction: The first version of this post, which was up only a few minutes, incorrectly referenced Erik Paulsen as the republican incumbent in the 2008 race. In fact, the congressional seat was open and the post has been corrected to reflect this. Hat tip Peter Glessing.