Picture Credit: Tracy Singleton


(This post originally appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education on  the day after the Ames straw poll.)

Dombey and Son
“As the last straw breaks the laden camel’s back”

Mr. Keillor frequents the Side Track Tap, but there is another place in town, the Birchwood Cafe.  It is inhabited by a bunch of lefties, elderly hippies like me, vegans, people with nose-rings and purple hair.  You know, that type.  They buy food locally and hate Monsanto.

So this morning there was much discussion at the ‘Birch over Mrs. Bachmann’s disembowelment of Mr. Pawlenty, our beloved former governor.  Some even felt sorry for TeaPaw but there was a great deal of Schadenfreude. It was the coffee special of the morning.

Yuh see, TeaPaw was the victim of really bad timing.  He had cultivated his garden in Iowa for the last two years much to the annoyance of people who wanted him to show some leadership in fixing our budgetary problems in Minnesota.  He left us about six billion dollars in the hole.  Mrs. Bachmann pointed out some of his other shortcomings in the swordfight, er debate, prior to the so-called straw poll.

Another mistake that Pawlenty made – hindsight being 20/20 – was making such a fuss about Iowa. The Ames straw poll is basically a farce.  It costs thirty bucks to vote.  Talk about a poll tax.  The Ron Paul web site generously offered a free ride from anywhere in Iowa as well as a free ticket.  Of course someone had to pay for the ticket, didn’t they?

Intelligent folks—like Romney—didn’t participate.  Except Romney was smart enough to show up for the debate and the nation-wide publicity. He didn’t do very well in the straw poll, but no one is asking him to step aside. And of course Rick Perry waited for the day of the straw poll to toss in his Stetson.

The timing thing with Bachmann was remarkable. Pawlenty and Bachmann have never been friends.  She did a quick conversion to Iowaism.  Everything I need to know I learned in Iowa. Probably kindergarten. That sort of stuff. Pawlenty was also in a bad spot because of his previous encounter with Romney where he wussed out. So when Bachmann put the pin in his balloon, he unwisely struck back. Bachmann is absolutely a master at making critics look bad.

So we’ve basically been spared of both Pawlenty and Bachmann in Minnesota politics for the foreseeable future.  Wow, does that feel good.

So now it is on to Perry vs. Romney.  Can’t wait.  The ‘Birchers think that  Perry will do to Bachmann what she did to Pawlenty.  Wouldn’t doubt it.

Could I have another cuppa that Schadenfreude, please? (The ‘Birch has wifi.)

PS: I see that Paul Krugman is unhappy that he is losing his whipping boy. He had previously described our beloved governor as an “embarrassing ignoramus.”  Krugman had this to say earlier today: “What made Pawlenty fun was that he was supposed to be the smart, capable candidate, someone who actually knew stuff; and yet every time he opened his mouth on policy issues, he revealed that he didn’t know a blessed thing.”

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