When Michael Dukakis was photographed in a tank wearing a too-big helmet, it torpedoed his presidential campaign. When John Kerry was photographed in hunting gear, he was called a phony. This kind of pandering by Democrats is called, well, pandering. But when Republicans dress themselves to be something they're not, it's dutifully reported by the media and people like Joe Scarborough buy the ruse. This is how George W. Bush, Yale legacy from a patrician Connecticut family, successfully recast himself as a good ol' boy Texas ranger and oil wildcatter.
Now it's Tim Pawlenty, a weaselly guy from Minnesota, who's trying to Jim-Bob himself right into the White House:
Mr. Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, is trying to make equal appeals to the diverse constituencies of the Republican Party as he introduces himself as a potential candidate. He stands out among the major contenders in trying to assertively court all factions that will help select a nominee to challenge President Obama.
“I want to be every person’s candidate — that’s my goal,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “The notion that you can’t do more than one thing at a time, I think, is a flawed premise.”
At a recent Tea Party Patriots rally, he pronounced, “The government’s too damn big!” To an evangelical audience, he declared, “The Constitution was designed to protect people of faith from government, not to protect government from people of faith.” And to Republicans in New Hampshire, he closed with a gentle plea: “Please leave with hope and optimism.”
The knock on Mr. Pawlenty, according to conversations with voters, is that his speeches sound sincere but do not always sizzle. At a faith forum last week in Iowa, he displayed vigor. But the next day at the Statehouse, the talk among several Republicans was that it seemed he had suddenly developed a Southern accent as he tried connecting to voters by speaking louder and with more energy.
The political blog of Radio Iowa heard it too and noted, “Pawlenty seems to be adopting a Southern accent as he talks about his record as governor.” As he spoke of the country’s challenges, he dropped the letter G, saying: “It ain’t gonna be easy. This is about plowin’ ahead and gettin’ the job done.”
Does this kind of minstrelsy really fly with Republican voters? Are they really that fucking stupid?