Friday, October 17, 2014

Tina Flint Smith, Governor

My post last week asking if Governor Mark Dayton was mentally competent was, I'm told, the talk of the town and, if my traffic is any indication, apparently so. I'm not Powerline and I don't blog on a regular basis. But the simple question of whether our state's governor is mentally competent was said to have been a taboo, one I broke. It's 2014 and Minnesota pretends to be a progressive state. In fact, it's backwards and parochial, with a high school level of politics mirrored by a high school level of political reportage. Almanac and At Issue prove the point every time they air, to say nothing of print, online, wire and radio.

I myself was fascinated by the lack of media coverage outright of what I wrote and the attempt to insulate Dayton from the worst aspects of it. I wasn't surprised on either count.

Remember, I wondered out loud both whether Dayton was up to the task of governing and if, in fact, Tina Flint Smith, shown above, wasn't the de facto governor already. Her being moved from Chief of Staff to Lt. Governor candidate for this year's election simply confirmed what, at a minimum, she'd already been.

The day my piece posted the Associated Press rushed out a quickly thrown together story claiming in "an interview" with Dayton (readers are never told when it took place nor at whose request) that there was no truth to the "rumors" that he would not serve out his full term should he win next month and be replaced by Smith. Mission accomplished, or at least one half of it: the idea Dayton would step down was refuted by the end of the day my post appeared. Weirdly, the governor himself is quoted in that piece talking about "acuity," a word I used in my post. No one has a claim on a word, of course, but I could be forgiven for noticing.

The AP reporter, naturally, never asked the salient question about Dayton's mental health. This is how it works. Instead, the focus was on Dayton's hip injury and recovery. Absent the unforeseeable or the catastrophic, our bored dilettante of a governor is going to sleep walk his way through another four years.

The rumors referenced in the AP report were also never explained to the reader. What rumors? Where did they come from? For how long had they been circulating?

The fact is media and democrats themselves are the source of those rumors, something never revealed in the story. This omission created the desired effect: such questions are coming from those crazy republicans. Again.

The story also repeats the myth that former Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettnor Solon "decided against another term." Of course she didn't: she was frozen out the entire first term and then pushed off the ticket.

Is this the truth? Yes. Do media know it? Yes. Are they liars?

Let's just say that they don't begin to report what they know.

Here's a question, then:

Is is true Dayton cannot hold a driver's license because of the levels of his medication?

Let's see if any media suss out that one. If I'm wrong, they will. If right, crickets. At any rate they'll have done more original research about Dayton than at any other time in his tenure.

I confess to thinking that perhaps Morning Take would have, at least cautiously, linked to my post with all the appropriate caveats so the client base wouldn't punish the proprietor. It's previously linked to bloggers with stories that damage republicans so I thought my post would be of interest because the owner is said by himself to no longer be partisan. But no.

Brian Lambert, who writes "The Glean," a twice daily feature in MinnPost, has previously publicly and privately admired my writing, for which I've thanked him. He's linked to me regularly in the past. He, too, passed on linking to this piece although he generously quoted from and linked to my "MN Republicans' Simulacrum of Competitiveness," calling me the "iconoclastic conservative blogger."

This is how you get stroked when they approve of you.

MinnPost seems unable to live up to its own billing, "a non-profit news organization providing high quality journalism for news intense Minnesotans." This is called a conceit and Joel Kramer seems content with feeding his aging liberal audience, through mostly aging former Star Tribune reporters, the same pablum and "world view" that has kept them from having a new political thought for forty years. They're edgy only in their minds or when able to pronounce items in the latest food fad.

MPR, of course, remains the land of the invincibly ignorant (that's actually a Catholic theological term of art) so I had no expectation that the praetorian tax-supported guard there would do anything constituting real political journalism.

I only mention the lack of "break out" in traditional media of my piece questioning Dayton's mental health not because I want the press, so to speak, as much as to show how little true, genuine, challenging reporting our media do.

If you can go to the Governor with rumors about his physical health, why not his mental, where concerns about it have been on display for years?

Tina Flint Smith has effectively been governor for most of the last four years. What makes me say this? The same sources that wondered out loud to me about Dayton's mental capacity. Even if Smith doesn't take over from the obviously impaired and not fully functioning Dayton, she would remain the power behind the throne. The continuity would be seamless; the reporting deceitful.

Recall that when her "candidacy" was announced local media outdid themselves to praise her. You have to laugh at these people; it's like they think no one with an intellect is watching. The Star Tribune's first sentence was:

"Her boss is one of the most demanding and critical politicians in Minnesota--and she is friends with his ex-wife."

Bootlicking doesn't come any more appalling than that. Remember, there are "stories" to tell now in journalism, the very idea of news, short of breaking catastrophes, something of an idea driven out of town. You can be pretty not bright and tell stories, thanks, and our general political reporting environment is much too filled with those sorts.

Smith oversees some of the most important projects in the state, with immediate and long term consequences of a relatively high order (it's just Minnesota, after all, xenophobes). In one sense it's doubtful she could further ruin the state given its brainless liberal autopilot. Minnesota democrats remind of me Kabuki extras: there, barely noticed and unessential. Special far left forces have already shaped the rough outlines of a second Dayton term and they are so organized it will mostly fall into place. How I hate republicans obsessing over an occasional small time democratic squabble, as if that were the game, while whole agendas go sailing into enactment. We play the game so very badly compared to them but don't need to. Yet nothing changes.

What also doesn't change is a media with no accountability.

God forbid the truth about Minnesota politics, or at least a real question about it, pierce the miasma of the Twin Cities' media outlets. If you want to know what's going on politically in Minnesota, you won't learn it from them. Instead, you'll get--how to say it?--a simulacrum.

Photo credit: John Doman, Pioneer Press

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