Tim Pawlenty fans made a strong showing at CPAC, even allowing for the Ron Paul kids swelling their ranks. It was easy to tell who the Ron Paul people were, because they were vibrating.
Pawlenty has a disarmingly chummy speaking style. It was as if our beloved, somewhat geeky Uncle Tim had dropped by to give his nieces and nephews a little speech about how the world works, before packing us all into the minivan for a trip to the ball game, and maybe some frozen custard afterward.
His relaxed approach takes a bit of the edge off some fairly pointed observations, such as noting that President Obama “proved someone can deserve a Nobel Price less than Al Gore.” He likened Obama to some sort of bizarre extra-terrestrial life form, asking “on what planet do they create jobs by taxing the people who produce jobs?”
He sees the current President’s primary skill as “being good at duping the mainstream media,” which is a much less impressive skill when you consider how badly they want to be duped by a liberal President. It’s not hard to sell ice to the Eskimos when they show up with empty ice chests and fistfuls of cash.
Like many CPAC speakers during the Regan centennial, Pawlenty had words of praise for the Gipper, admiring how he “knew how to stare down our enemies” and “knew the price of freedom.” Dismissing the latest media narrative comparing Obama to Reagan, Pawlenty snorted that Obama was “behaving like Jimmy Carter.”
Pawlenty built his theme around the need to restore “common sense” to an system that consumes delusions for its fuel. “The policies of the Left encroach every day on the freedom that makes this country great,” he said. He sees it as simple common sense to insist that “bureaucrats don’t tell us what to do. We the people tell government what to do.” This balance of power can only be restored by “leaders who remember where they come from, and remember what made America the greatest country in the world.”
More of common sense would result in “less Obama nonsense.” Speaking very slowly to emphasize his point for those who peddle nonsense, he declared, “We can’t spend more than we take in. You can’t do it as an individual, as a family, as a business, or as a government.” He is a strong opponent of raising the debt ceiling, pointing to his own success at bringing Minnesota under control with a record number of vetoes, and the state’s first government shutdown, when he was governor. He supports the enforcement of fiscal restraint with a balanced budget amendment, noting that if you compare a wedding with an open bar to one where people pay for their own drinks, it won’t take long to notice which one has more drunks.
Like every Presidential hopeful to speak at CPAC except for Mitt Romney, Pawlenty called for the repeal of ObamaCare, but he wants to go further and “throw our tax code overboard.” He thinks every member of Congress should be required to complete their own tax returns, without the assistance of a tax preparer, accountant, or lawyer. The idea of someone like Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas being forced to do that is bound to warm even the coldest heart on a bitter winter’s day.
“The best thing we can do to empower people is make sure they have a good job,” Pawlenty declared, and “the private sector, not government, is the key to job creation.” He hears the desperate cry of business groups to “reduce my costs and get government off my back.”
On foreign policy, he’s convinced that “America’s rightful place is leading the world.” To the notion of China emerging as the dominant nation in a decade or two, he says, “No way, no how!” He’s got no patience for those who make a fetish of the dying democracies of Europe, warning that “just because we followed Greece into democracy does not mean we have to follow them into bankruptcy.”
Contrasting his approach with Obama’s endless apologetics and tendency to throw allies under the bus, Pawlenty said “the United States should project its image around the world with strength,” and there should be “no equivocation, no uncertainty, no daylight between ourselves and our allies around the world.” When dealing with “bullies,” he declared, “might makes right,” and while “bullies and tyrants around the world have much to apologize for, America does not.”
Pawlenty’s speech included a number of frankly religious appeals. He emphasized his understanding of “In God We Trust” as our national motto, and said that “we as a nation need to turn towards God, not away from God.” That sort of talk might not be easy to sell to jittery independents, coming from someone whose religious convictions are genuine, not a disguise like the one President Obama dons when he wants to look less radical. Pawlenty is comfortable with that challenge. “This ain’t about easy,” he assured his audience. “This is about rolling up our sleeves, plowing forward, and getting the job done.” After that, Uncle Tim will drive us all to the ball game. He had a very impressive and upbeat crowd of admirers ready to call shotgun.