Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And all I had was a Pepsi Coke 

I haven't discussed the confab at the Governor's Mansion here. I don't wish to say it wasn't a big deal. The governor's name is whispered in discussions of 2008, he seems like a guy you might like to have a beer with (as opposed to Jesse, about whom you'd be afraid he'd drink your beer as well as his own), and a chance to see some other bloggers is something I don't pass up. But let I'm not a naif around politicos myself. Many summers I end up in some country you look up in an atlas, and work around ministries of finance or central banks. I don't know if meeting Pawlenty was as meaningful as meeting and working with Viktor Yushchenko, now president of Ukraine. I often stay in the same hotel where the power meetings occur in, for example, Macedonia, so I once literally bumped into and shook hands with its future head of state. Having lunch as a 23-year-old with Milton Friedman might rank higher with me. I don't believe I was quite so wide-eyed at the mansion as some would believe, or as others might have.

Nick Coleman, with whom I would also share a beer (not just because of my thirst), sees in posts others have had of the meeting that bloggers dreamt "big, beautiful blog dreams" of following the fellow to Washington in 2009. It's interesting that this comes a few days after Craig Westover pretty much said the same thing. Perhaps Coleman should send Westover $75. The one thing he adds is a phone call to Kelli Gorr, the PD at WJON, which happens to be where Mitch and I agreed to appear on her show last Thursday.
"I'll stand as the one person who would not be considered right-wing," said Gorr, who broadcast a talk show from the governor's reception room in St. Paul on the day of the reception, but who took pains to present a politically balanced program. "The spin was that they [the governor's staff] wanted to reach new media able to disseminate information quickly and to say thank you to the nontraditional media. That was the spin. But if you call it most definitely right-wing, you're not off base."
Again, if you looked around the room, there was no doubt in my mind that it was largely center-right bloggers and some talk radio people from outstate. I met the news director from Willmar station KDJS as well, and I have no idea what her views are, and I know Kelli but not her views. (Nick gave me an actual piece of information I can use.) The remainder? Yeah, probably not a Kerry voter in the bunch.

And yet, consider that Pawlenty's $200 of wine and old cheese didn't exactly buy him great coverage of his abandoning the no new tax pledge in many places. That this opinion is not universal doesn't indicate that the last link is to someone fully in bed with Pawlenty (First Ringer's said enough about the rest of the negotiations to make that last one fit). What it indicates is something we can't say enough: there actually is a diversity of opinion over any number of issues among what Coleman calls on his radio show "wingnut bloggers". Likewise, while some of the attendees may have been gosh and golly about the mansion, I think it's safe to say the Powerline duo, also in attendance, didn't have their socks knocked off.

I don't control the governor's invite list to the mansion. And frankly, had he asked, I'd've preferred that rather than invite me for chips and dip in posh digs, I get a pass to hear a press conference, or put me on a distribution list for press releases, or some such. There are politicians who get this already, both the Howard Deans and national candidates and those running for more mundane offices. I don't write a blog to be wooed, I write to become better informed and a better writer. I attended for those reasons: I hadn't met the guy, and this was as good a chance as I was going to get, and it helped with the critical cigarette tax post to put the guy in a visual context. (Not everyone writes that way, I suppose, but being able to see and hear imaginary conversations when you can attach a real voice helps me play out events.)

For all the abuse we take for going to the Gov's house, I wish I'd gotten some of the Gov's wine, or J.B. scotch. All I had was a Coke and the nickel tour. Next time, I'll steal the silverware, and send Nick a setting.