Former Republican U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, who will celebrate his 75th birthday this summer, is playing well the role of insightful elder statesman. His periodic e-newsletters from the National Institute of Health Policy, based at the University of St. Thomas, are always a good read. Here's a notable sample from his May 21 epistle:

"MN Governor Tim Pawlenty followed [President Ronald] Reagan by 20 years, and has tried to follow a similar course. After six years in office his commitment to "no new taxes" has earned him plaudits from national conservatives and a chance at the vice presidency. "It's not wise to raise taxes in the worst recession in 60 years" says the governor. "Unfortunately, government spending has continued to rise due principally to the costs of education and health care and Minnesota has yet to distinguish itself as a leader in value-based, cost-lowering of either. Because the governor and the legislature must balance the state's budget every year and have yet to deal with the spending of local government, including schools, the costs of "no new taxes and no new policy direction" has ended up in much higher property tax bills for everyone in Minnesota."