A page has turned in American political discourse. Government shutdowns are now something to be proud of.
That’s right. For elected officials, breaking government down is now a cause for cheer. This can be seen in the halls of Congress, where Republicans are gloating over their refusal to increase the debt ceiling; in Wisconsin, where Democrats fled the state in an attempt to block Gov. Scott Walker’s bill to prohibit collective bargaining for public unions; and now in Minnesota, where a state government shutdown has reached its fifth day, due to a divided Democratic Governor and a Republican legislature that espouse fundamental differences over the best way to balance a budget. Minnesota is a microcosm of the federal impasse: Do we cut programs to save cash or raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for programs?
And former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is doing his best to capitalize on the shutdown bandwagon. In his latest 30 second campaign ad airing in Iowa, “Results, Not Rhetoric” the “Result” is the nine day shutdown in 2005. While corny ascending piano and string music gently plays, a grandfatherly voiced narrator praises T-Paw for not caving to unions during a transit strike in 2004, and then achieving a government shutdown in 2005.
Minnesota government shutdown. Why? Because Tim Pawlenty would not accept Democrats’ massive tax and spending demands. Result? Pawlenty won. Tim Pawlenty, results, not rhetoric.
The ad fails to include the fact that T-Paw was actually wrangling for a tax increase during the shutdown—on cigarettes. At any rate the shutdown “winning” resulted in 9,000 employees being furloughed. That’s not mentioned in the ad either.
T-Paw is trying very hard to convince people he’s a tough guy. The video spot itself is of a markedly different sheen than T-Paw’s previous ads which were glossy, highly edited features intended to make him look like some kind of Superman (he has to make up for the boring Clark Kent persona he’s often slugged with). This is a much more traditional looking candidate’s ad, which he’s hoping will win the votes of Iowa Republicans. But is showing you’re tough enough to let government collapse really a winning strategy?
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.