Campaign Trailer Critic: T-Paw's New Direction

Throughout the 2012 campaign season, It's A Free Country's political film critic Sarah Kate Kramer will be analyzing the videos released by presidential hopefuls. Today that hopeful is Tim Pawlenty.

T-Paw is developing a brand. Despite his understated national profile, the man has a sophisticated video editing team behind him. His presidential exploratory committee video could not be more different from that of Mitt Romney, who's going for the soft and cuddly look. T-Paw is all lights, camera, action hero!

In his video response to Obama's 2012 campaign announcement, Pawlenty literally starts by flicking on a spotlight. There are ten different shots in the trim space of ten seconds. Lightening flashes behind the White House (post-production effect?), the orchestra plays tense bow strokes, a meta video of Obama is reflected at a distorted angle and we hear the President say, "it's time to win the future" while the video makes it clear we're living in a dark, messed up world.

The weirdest thing about the character T-Paw plays in his campaign videos is how slick and urban he comes off. That's in stark contrast to his usual persona of a Midwestern fisherman, the son of a milk truck driver from St. Paul. His staff clearly decided the man needed a make-over, perhaps because he has been called "boring" a few too many times.

The video references both the big-brother scenario of The Matrix and that blockbuster's editing style. Images flicker by so fast (foreclosure signs, American flags, gas prices) you start to lose your breath.

Boom! At 00:26 a deep firm voice rises over all the distorted madness: "I've got a question for you. How can America win the future when we're losing the present?" This is followed by rapid-fire saturated images: America's talking heads (Paul Krugman was pissed when he found out he was in this!), a fast-forwarding unemployment map; houses in foreclosure...and a shot of Obama grinning while all this commotion is flashing across the screen. Hmm, who's the villain?

"In order for America to take a new direction, it's going to take a new President." The lights flicker onto T-Paw's face. No longer just a fisherman with a "red-hot smoking wife," he's the hero of this show.