Pawlenty in the State of Nature
Tim Pawlenty is in a dangerous place. A place red in tooth and claw. Where life can be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. It is where war is waged by all against all. In short, he is in the jungle which is the contest for the Republican nomination to run for the presidency.
Of course, no one should pity a Republican who has decided to go where he can rely only his own solitary wit, strength and luck. Where events outside his control can cripple him; nay, ruin him forever. Where one footfall can result in the world condemning him, reducing him to a crushed, neglected wreck. Where life is a zero sum game, in which everyone believes that if someone gains, it can only mean everyone else loses. No, you can’t pity him, you must rejoice. Because that is actually the world the Republican Party and all its mighty contenders hope to bring to all of us. It is their creed, their life, their joy.
This is not to deny the danger Pawlenty is in. We can agree that we should not intervene when a cheetah is pursuing a small hare. But we can’t help ourselves rooting that the hare escapes. (I speak of us non-Republicans. The Republicans of course root for the cheetah and rejoice with gusto when it rips the flesh from the unfortunate lagomorph. And when the cheetah accidentally is wounded, by say an unexpected hole in the ground which breaks its leg, the Republicans will cheer loudly as that poor creature slowly weakens until jackals or hyenas come to rip its flesh off. Fortunately, the God of Republicans allows these poor creatures to withstand the pain of being consumed while alive. For, as Republicans know, God ordains everything.)
The danger to Pawlenty is clear. He has neither the ear nor the purse of those who constitute the heart of the GOP—Wall Street. For as much as Republicans bray and cackle about life beginning at conception, and the right of schools to install their version of history and science and religion, and the owners of small business who open up a bodega in East Harlem or a hardware store in Akron, the heart and soul of the Republican Party are those great beings who know the secret of sucking all the gold and other precious substances of life out of the marrow of all life itself. Republicans know that their followers, who are all Good Christians, never really read the texts of their religion, so they erect in the central temple of their worship the Golden Calf, the Baal of Mammon. For it is Mammon that brings forth all things worth having in life. It organizes us. It shows who should live, and who should die. It does for us what we are reluctant to do ourselves: it disposes of the useless.
No, Pawlenty can’t even sidle up to these folks. They have anointed one of their own. One who is wise enough to discharge scores of useless people in order to save the important things in life, corporations and the market capital they represent. Mitt Romney, that lion of the Party, has proved over and over that he can do what needs to be done. He is like Mammon himself. He disposes of the useless and rewards the virtuous: the accumulators of capital. So Pawlenty cannot prevail there. But Tim, lion cub that he is, sees that the old Romney has a small wound. A wound that flies may get at over time. Perhaps it will get infected. Others might not see it clearly, but Tim knows that among Republicans this could be deadly for Romney. The wound is Mormonism. And the flies are the unwashed evangelicals that the Lions of Wall Street normally control, but on this issue they might have to throw one of their own to the gaping maws of their simple-minded followers. It will be a small price. After all, for the greater good of the individual, often lots of other individuals have to be sacrificed. Ayn Rand taught us that. As did Mussolini. Wall Street will make a great show of it, if it comes down to turning on Romney. They will do it to keep the evangelicals part of their low-taxes-for-the-incredibly-rich party. They will stand on the steps of the old Customs House and loudly proclaim: Who would you have us release, Romney or Barabbas? And the evangelicals will cry out in one voice: Give us Barabbas. And poor Romney will be crucified between an inside trader and a hedge fund embezzler, one of which will join him in heaven.
But for the moment the Powers cannot be depended on, and not until Romney is thrown to the evangelicals can Pawlenty hope to meet and be sanctified by the Republican Sanhedrin. So Pawlenty must act like the cagiest of small beasts in the jungle. Like the mammals did when the Tyrannosaurus roamed—just before the Great Flood. And while he could never publicly acknowledge it, who better to give him advice in this situation than the one who most closely studied the laws of the jungle, Charles Darwin? And didn’t Darwin say the following?
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
Actually he did not. It was Dr. Leon C. Megginson at Louisiana State University. But everyone on the Internet says Darwin said it. And, let’s face it, we’re talking Republicans here, so factual accuracy is really not all that important. In fact, it isn’t important at all.
But Darwin can’t help Tim here. In fact, if ability to adapt is the key, then Romney will surely survive. For hasn’t he adapted every one of his core beliefs? Isn’t his problem that he’s too adaptable? One day he wants to force everyone to have health care. The next he realizes that a few well placed deaths from lack of coverage will actually invigorate our country. The faithful are not really sure that Romney truly believes, like our founders, that people have the right to die from lack of ability to pay for medical care.
So adaptability might not be the key.
Maybe, it’s best that he occupy another niche in this eco-system of the alpha males. What about taking an independent view on some part of Republican orthodoxy? Don’t do it, Tim! Look, if you dare, at the writhing body of Newt Gingrich. He makes a simple point about the plan to do in Medicare, and he is set upon by assassins. And despite his avowal that he never said what he said and that he actually agrees that Medicare should be shredded like mozzarella cheese on a pizza, it is too late. The very idea the Orthodoxy should be challenged was too much. His words could not linger for even the briefest of moments. He had to be made an example. And now he lies on the forest floor, his body writhing, covered with ants and beetles who are tearing at his flesh, his poor new bride, drenched in jewels from Tiffany’s, watching in horror, looking forward to a life where she must start over, perhaps again become the legislative staffer of some Republican. But alas! It is John Boehner, and not the talented and married Newt Gingrich, who is Speaker. Woe, and alas!
So maybe Tim’s niche to occupy is as the unpopular former governor. Pawlenty surely fits that bill. He was so unpopular at the end that he couldn’t get a Republican to follow him into the governor’s mansion. But here again the niche seems to be occupied, and danger is all about. When you think of unpopular former governors, you have to think Sarah. In Alaska a recent poll shows her approval rating is 33% and disapproval 58%. She is so unpopular in the state that saw her “govern” that only Massachusetts, the state that voted for McGovern and produced Teddy!, gives her a lower rating. She even has the evangelical thing down pat. She’s against witches, her daughter had a child out-of-wedlock, and she wants everyone to have gun. Everything that Jesus taught. Pawlenty is just not man enough to muscle her out of that niche.
So what is poor Tim going to do? He’s going to have to be true to who is he. He can’t tell a joke, and is not particularly likeable. He’s an uninspiring dullard with no real reason for being elected, who knows nothing except to repeat the Republican platitudes over and over. So, I guess, that’s what he has to go with. And he begun yesterday at the University of Chicago. He promised, according to the Chicago Tribune, to “slash taxes for businesses and individuals, cut government spending and eliminate burdensome regulations.” Then the whole congregation said Amen and praised the Lord!
It was that old-time religion. What made Republicans admired throughout the world. Cut taxes, no! Slash them! Like the noxious weeds that have sprung up to choke the very ability of the wealthy to shop at Tiffany’s. Cut spending. Let it bleed! Those sinful acts of government to spare the weak and the old and the sick from their rightful, God-ordained place on the scrap heap. Hallelujah! And eliminate burdensome regulations! Yeah! A chill went up the spine of his hearers when they realized that companies would be Born Again to make cars that tumbled over when turning and flammable baby’s toys painted with lead, and Agribusiness could fertilize their genetically engineered crops with the rich nourishment of E. coli. It will be a new day when Tim Pawlenty becomes king of the jungle!
Thrilling as that was he didn’t stop there. He accused our President, the one whose former chief aide thinks liberals are “retarded,” of being … well, let him put it in his own words:
“Regrettably, President Obama is a champion practitioner of class warfare.”
Yes, brother Tim, preach it. Remind us of the Pullman strike and Haymarket Square and Sacco and Vanzetti and the Homestead strike! Remind us how Barack Obama has been out there stirring up that seething mass of uneducated, probably immigrant, undoubtedly sneaky, murderous throng of (for lack of a better word) “workers.” Workers whose jobs should be exported. Workers who should be denied the right to engage in collective bargaining. Workers who threaten our wives and children! The very scum of the earth who the President as candidate said he would take up a sign and march with!
But wait. Did the President even lift a finger to help the resistance in any state where union rights were being repealed, like Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan? States that he won and presumably has some capital in? Did the President, when he was the “community organizer,” ever involve himself in union activities? Did he do anything to help card check? Didn’t he even bring the great opponent of that union wish, Arlen Specter, into his camp? Could Tim actually be talking about union warfare?
Perhaps not. But even when there is not a speck of truth that the President would break even a fingernail to help unions, that doesn’t mean Tim can’t yell “Class warfare!” After all, by dint of racial identity, the President will never be able to avoid his role in those great crimes against the social order and the heroes who make their money off of capital. And you know I am speaking about the crimes of Nat Turner, Gabriel, Toussaint Louverture and the rest of the murderous crew that came from Kenya just like the President. Because if, deo absit, the President is re-elected, there will be no restraint that can prevent our country from experiencing what happened in Saint Domingue in 1791. Slit throats and blood running down the streets will be a common sight. And that, my friend, is exactly what Pawlenty means by “class warfare.”
This I do believe will be the niche that Pawlenty will occupy until his superior fitness will allow him to out-survive his rivals.
(Can’t you just see the cheetah running him down?)