"The era of small government is over . . . government has to be more proactive, more aggressive." Then Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty, 2006.
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s name keeps surfacing as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney. And as Pawlenty’s star has risen with the national media -- and the Romney campaign -- he probably wishes he could take back that dumb remark.
We are not so concerned with conservative politicians who occasionally think out loud or say dumb things they wish they could take back, as much as we worry about establishment politicians who DO dumb things that violate conservative principles -- and then pretend that they are conservatives.
And former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty certainly falls into the category of someone who has done a good job of pretending to be a conservative.
When Pawlenty was first elected Governor in 2002, he talked a good conservative game, but as The Wall Street Journal later noted, “But in 2005, signs of his 'progressive' instincts emerged. In a quest for new revenue, Mr. Pawlenty supported a 75 cents per-pack cigarette tax. He called it a 'health impact' fee. No one was fooled. User fees are generally charged to ensure that those who use a government service pay for the cost of providing that service. In this case, however, it was obvious that smokers were just being tapped to fund health-care entitlement programs.”
These “progressive instincts” run strongly toward nanny state programs, such as smoking bans, mandated health care programs and banning ads by pharmaceutical companies.
Far from being a conservative, when it comes to the nanny state versus individual liberty, Tim Pawlenty is more of a Prairie State Michael Bloomberg than a Reagan Republican.
Pawlenty not only believes the power of government to be unlimited, but as Jack Hunter, writing for The American Conservative noted, he “chastises those in his party who would dare think otherwise.”
Pawlenty’s problem is compounded by the fact that his first instinct is always to compromise or accept liberal premises to “placate liberal critics” as the WSJ put it.
Let’s stipulate that all politicians, occasionally even principled conservatives, say dumb things they later wish they could take back. But no matter how much Tim Pawlenty might try to back-track, his problem is his moderate to liberal record as Governor, not an occasional verbal deviation from conservative principle.
And the record is that, as Governor, Tim Pawlenty raised taxes, advocated many Big Government mandates, supported cap and trade, and did zip on the conservative social agenda.
Perhaps Minnesota conservative blogger Andy Aplikowski summed-up Pawlenty best -- and why he won’t help Romney with conservatives -- when he wrote, “Pawlenty’s a good Republican, but not a great conservative.”