Friday, October 10, 2014

Is Mark Dayton Mentally Competent To Govern?

The mental and physical condition of any elected official is a proper question and the subject of inquiry in any free and open society. Citizens have an absolute right to know if anything is amiss that would affect the discharge of that individual's duties once in office. Those who argue otherwise, for any reason whatever, ask us to be serfs. I decline.

Oddly, the question of his health has not been asked of Gov. Mark Dayton since a ten minute interview in December of 2009. One and done in this state's media, a wholly owned subsidiary of the DFL. In that interview, Dayton said "I am a candidate for governor and I think people have a right to know this about me." That right to know is not a limited time offer; if anything, subsequent behavior in office has made it more compelling than ever.

Dayton's lifelong history of maladies is well documented; there is no need to go into them here. In the last few years, however, his physical appearance, mental acuity and clarity of speech have all degraded to a shocking degree. Readers know instantly that this is truth, the only question being whether it is improper to discuss it in public. It is not and those who wish to stifle such a discussion have agendas, paid or unpaid, and not particularly hidden ones. Their protestations only underscore the need for having the subject out in the open.

The governor's website stopped posting video of him in 2013. In gambling, that's called a tell. Some believe that something happened in June of that year, given his Kim Jong-un like absences from the public eye for long periods of time. We can never know for sure but we can  observe, and judge, Dayton's countenance and behavior in the time he's been governor. Only we don't know how much he's actually the governor and how much he's manipulated by others around him. The Kim Jong-un analogy is surprisingly apt.

It is a routine entry in Blois Olson's "Morning Take" that "today the Governor has no public appearances but will meet with Commissioners and staff throughout the day."

Does he? We don't know; how would we? How many business days in each year has Mark Dayton made no public appearance? No one in the press has bothered to check, nor will they, and the men and women behind the curtain are not about to tally it up for us either.

We are asked, sotto voce, to act as if we don't notice (for Tom Emmer supporters that means in a low voice, so as not to be overheard). But we do notice. As if we live in some Scandinavian North Korea, however, we are discouraged from speaking about this out loud. Whenever the slightest comment about the subject is made, on Twitter for example, an interesting overreaction occurs. "Keep it classy" and "out of bounds" are the politest expressions of this defensiveness. This is sheer hypocrisy, of course, as those same types would be the first to launch a frontal assault on a governor of the other party. These people are not to be taken seriously.

Dayton hasn't released his medical records so we don't know for sure which medications he is being administered. It defies firsthand experience and common sense, however, to pretend that he is not frequently heavily medicated in public.

Can anyone imagine an engaged Mark Dayton on a full time basis, in public view most of the day for a solid week? Of course not. He's carefully handled to appear for only limited amounts of time in public. Even then, most people cringe out of compassion given his performance. I know I do. The rest of the time when he's out of the public eye one's imagination runs riot. I've come to think of Mark Dayton as a vulnerable adult.

Some disturbing images of Dayton can be seen in the excellent ad released by Jeff Johnson just yesterday. Click here to view it; tell me things are fine.

Media know how impaired Dayton has become but don't particularly care: they're on the same team and none of them would do anything to harm the progressive agenda. If a republican governor, however, were this manifestly troubled, Minnesota media would cloak themselves in the phony "the public has a right to know" rubric and have at it.

Want in on a little secret? Actually, by now it's an open one:

Media fully expect Mark Dayton will not serve out his full term should he win next month and Tina Flint Smith will take his place. Smith at one time was vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of North & South Dakota and Minnesota.

It's difficult to convey to the average person the sanctifying effect that that barbaric credential has on democrats in Minnesota. Our Lady of the Dismembered. One imagines her hands perpetually ice cold.

Smith was Dayton's chief-of-staff in his first term. A great many people recognized her as the real power in the governor's office.  Think Mrs. Wilson.

Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettnor Solon was not about to be the first female governor if the people who run the executive branch were to have anything to say about it. That hick can be dispatched back to Duluth. She was essentially frozen out from the beginning of Dayton's administration, but only if it were a republican governor treating a woman this way would our media pay attention.

I can name the names of reporters (print, television, radio, online) who know this, who have admitted it to me and to others, and who look forward to the calculated change of chief executive for Minnesota, with no regard for the electoral dishonesty, the betrayal of public trust they enable.

They'd all deny this, of course, and it would be my word against theirs as I don't tape record people surreptitiously (only people without any integrity do that).

I wrote about Dayton's "dissociative" episode when he gave the Lecture to the Policy Fellows of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in September of 2012 (see the blog archive to the right for that date if you wish to read it: "Fisking* Dayton's Humphrey School Lecture").

In the audience for this major speech were Vice President Mondale and University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler. I called that speech disjointed and incoherent. You could feel through the audio alone Dayton take intermittent leave of reality.

Larry Jacobs, head of the school, famously told me on Twitter that the lecture wasn't videotaped because videotape "is expensive" and promptly blocked me. Only the audio was released and you can sense the glue holding the mental joints together dissolve as Dayton receded further into his past while holding his audience of liberals hostage. To be fair, I could feel the audience's discomfort during the many pauses in the speech, before Dayton took off in a completely different direction, a lecture of non sequiturs.

To this day I have not been able to obtain the video of an incumbent governor giving a major public policy speech at a public facility. Now why would that be?

MPR has since removed even the audio of this event. The memory hole triumphs! Click here to see its initial story but no links to the audio of the speech or to the audio of the Q&A remain. The first line of the first comment, however, succinctly sums up the experience of listening to the speech, as I did for a mind numbing twenty-five minutes.

Mark Dayton's fitness for office is a concern commonly remarked upon by Minnesotans from all walks of life and throughout the state. That the media refuse to address it tells you all you need to know about whether there is something to those concerns.

They'd ask but they're afraid of the answer they already know all too well.

Forget Hillary, they're ready for Tina.

UPDATE: MPR tells me that the audio of the Dayton Lecture has been restored on the site linked to above. Happy listening.

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