Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It all depends on the meaning of the word "magnanimous" 

I almost love Craig Westover's column today on Pawlenty. (I would not have objected in the slightest to the headline.) My qualifier 'almost' comes from one word in one sentence, to wit:
The governor made the magnanimous gesture. He put his political future on the line for the good of Minnesota by backing off his no new taxes pledge to balance the budget and fund education. The DFL rejected his offer with the indefensible ploy of playing education off against increased taxes.

It is not magnanimous to take poll readings and decide to expand government. It is not magnanimous to give other people's money to the education borg, or to corn growers, or to a baseball team. It is not magnanimous to promise to one group to help you get elected, and then break that promise when doing so promotes your own venal interests.

Either smaller government is "for the good of Minnesota" or it is not. Either no new taxes is "for the good for Minnesota" or it is not. There are no needs now for Minnesota that require extra confiscation that did not exist in 2002. Nothing changed except Pawlenty's resolve and his own political calculus.

UPDATE (6/16): David Strom, last night.

The Governor needs to remember the formula for his success: when his interests are aligned with the Republican Party and the Conservative movement, he won. He has now chosen to diverge from both of his allies, asking them to follow him down a path they cannot possible go down (higher taxes, Northstar, Stadium, minimum wage, no sudafed in the stores, ethanol, etc.). He needs to tack right, take the argument out of the Capitol to the people, and beat the Democrats in the field of public opinion.

As long as he tries to negotiate by giving the Democrats more of what they want, they will continue to demand ever higher prices for a settlement. You have to impose high costs for failing to deal with you, not offer more and more concessions in hope of a good faith settlement. This is like the Oslo Accords, where only one side seemed to get anything, with the other always giving in hope of buying peace.

David also quotes Machiavelli. Pawlenty is no Machiavelli.