Wednesday, December 5, 2012
MN Republican Legislators: Paralysis As Policy?
Yesterday's reporting by Cyndy Brucato of MinnPost confirmed what many have suspected: we have no idea how to maximize our political fortunes in the next 24 months while providing principled opposition to a political party never known for restraint and which does not have a mandate to turn Minnesota into a cold California. Brucato wrote about Senate Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Dave Thompson's address to a republican gathering earlier this week. I tweeted that his remarks were "incoherent twaddle."
Essentially Thompson surrenders to whatever may come, making the most banal political observations possible and fundamentally refusing to take any responsibility for the collective disasters that have befallen Minnesota republicans. Higher taxes, more unionization, wasteful transit spending at the expense of roads and the growth of government for its own sake will be coming under Gov. Dayton and the legislature his ex-wife Alida Rockefeller bought for him. My cat Agamemnon (@AgamemnonCat on Twitter) knew all this before the election if the DFL won but no matter. Thompson can't be faulted for stating the obvious; he and other republican legislators can be for communicating surrender and helplessness.
He noted that proclaiming there was a budget surplus while all the reporting declared deficits made it "look like you're being disingenuous, especially when it's self-serving." Since when is being disingenuous not self-serving? Oh and senator, why the lack of the first person singular? I'll take plural in a pinch. But no, Thompson's comments read as if he wasn't in office last session, let alone in a leadership position. They lack integrity.
Brucato quotes him further: "With the benefit of hindsight, politicians, policy makers need to respond to some perceived problem and I don't think your average voter perceived that marriage in Minnesota has a problem."
The stupidity of the marriage amendment was not apparent only after the fact of its crushing defeat and corrosive effect on suburban races, thanks just the same. It's good to know, though, that if we want hindsight leadership we have one on deck. Again, no first person singular. No apology for sheer, atrocious political judgment nor a vow not to be a pawn of Bob Cummins again. That sort of responsibility-taking is necessary in order for republicans to move forward in the next two years. We all get things wrong; perfection isn't the goal, improvement is.
Then, possibly as a result of having read some random tripe on World Net Daily, Thompson goes all in and declares 2012 as the year in which we lost the country to the European-style social welfare state. If you've gone French and surrendered your political raison d'etre you have an affirmative obligation to quit the field and let someone else take your place in the battle of ideas. It takes some brass to be instrumental in policy choices that led to an electoral masacre and then claim the war has been lost permanently because of forces beyond your control. As the British would say: right.
Not content with his molting thus far, Thompson continued: "Republicans were weak . . . in their choice of Mitt Romney for president, their poor get-out-the-vote effort, and their message."
Weak? And he would know of strength how precisely? Thompson endorsed lunatic Rick Santorum for president. Given that failure of judgment, he has zero standing to criticize Mitt Romney as weak, although clearly getting out the vote (or not) was dispositive and we didn't do a good job in that regard. There I have no argument with the senator. But to elide responsibility while taking cheap shots at Romney while contemporaneously throwing in the towel isn't being a leader.
The closest Thompson came was to say: "I take some responsibility . . . I'm too willing to say no. The electorate has not responded well to 'no.'"
Actually, senator, it was what you said yes to that helped kill us. But taking some responsibility is a start. I like Dave Thompson personally and there can be no doubt he is trying; here's hoping our defeat can bring out stronger, better leadership skills in him (and others) because I believe he (and they) possesses them and god knows we need them. When I read he told Brucato that we need to run the most conservative candidates who can be elected I thought to myself: we're all RINOs now.
Brucato's short but essential reporting can be read by clicking here.
The strangely under-read Dave Mindeman channels in his most recent blog post, whether he knows it or not, that old adage about the Bourbon restoration: they remembered everything and learned nothing. His observation, vis-a-vis Minnesota republicans, is not entirely wrong. Still, he's a showcase of liberal delusion:
"The reality is that a push for fairness in unionization is a long overdue structural enhancement for the middle class." Really? I'm not sure even Dave knows what that means. Or maybe he does but he's too delicate to spell it out? He's happy to use the force and brutality of government because he knows better than those upon whom he'd inflict his social engineering. The Left has become essentially fascist and it's news only to them.
More: "Thompson stubbornly defends a transportation system that can never meet our future needs."
Here is quintessential liberal cluelessness. Without subsidies bordering on rape of the taxpayer, current "transportation systems" would die on the vine. Minnesota population density simply doesn't support their rote transportation ideology. Lanes not trains™ would confuse him. Americans, still, have an individualist, not collectivist, impulse. Give him and his ilk credit for trying to change that; score one against my team for not resisting sufficiently. At least not yet.
Liberals remind me of carnivores: the former have no idea where money comes from, the latter no idea meat. It's not dispositive; the mere observation is sufficient.
Finally, if you ever thought liberals had no genuine understanding of those on the right, Mindeman's hallucinatory remark that "[t]he message Thompson espouses is the very one that lost" should confirm your hunch. But then, like non-white people, I suppose all republicans look the same to him.
Despite my remarks, Mindeman remains a must read; he really is that good. Do so by clicking here.
Comrade in arms Mitch Berg picked up on a MPR story and suggested republicans do nothing this session. Read his thoughts by clicking here. This is of a piece, I think, with current prevailing sentiment because, save for votes in the House needed for bonding, republicans in the legislature really won't have much to do.
Except they will and may not realize it. Enter Rep. Pat Garafalo and Jeff Kolb on Twitter the other day. Garafalo tweeted that he wished that former Rep. Tom Rukavina was in still the legislature as a speed bump against too much left-wing overreach. I suggested it was up to us, then; Pat responded that we don't have the votes. This wasn't a news flash and suggested a certain incumbent myopia. Kolb jumped in to the effect that he didn't care for the defeatist tone he was hearing and he was clearly onto something. In an odd way, all three of us were right at the same time.
Animal lover and friend House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt hasn't been all that much better but I protect him, as best I can, from the far right because the far right. Dave Mindeman wouldn't understand. The rest of us do; our political survival is at stake.
Privately--I don't think Jeff will mind my sharing this publicly--Kolb noted that the DFL was in the minority for two years and were hardly passive. True, they had their guy in the Governor's mansion so that helped a good deal but still, no surrender. They had a message, stuck to it, got it out. There's something to be said for sticking to your (mostly reasonable) guns on either side of the aisle. When people ask me what we should do going forward, I point to Carrie Lucking. Javier Morillo. Sally Jo Sorensen. Jake Loesch. Bob Hume, Governor Dayton's consigliere. We're being outflanked. Outspent. We can do something more immediately about the former; the latter requires more time. The problem is to be most effective in the former requires more of the latter and our begging bowls go empty.
Why and how they should be replenished remains Minnesota republicans most urgent task.
Above: The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli (1781). Click on the image to enlarge.