Minnesota’s governator fires back

The Minneapolis Star Tribune is Minnesota’s dominant newspaper by far. It more or less sets the agenda of Minnesota news coverage, especially in state politics. The folks who own and run the Star Tribune nevertheless know that the paper’s rabid Democratic partisanship has placed the paper out of step with much of the Twin Cities metropolitan area and made it a laughingstock. They are trying to do something about it, such as hiring the outstanding D.J. Tice as editor of state political coverage, but restoring public trust will be a long-time project and the paper has just begun the effort.
The Star Tribune’s naked partisanship has discredited its local political news coverge (including its laughable Minnesota Poll — see my “The trouble with the Star Tribune Poll”) and has alienated some advertisers to the point that they will have nothing to do with it even though it is the state’s dominant newspaper.
The Star Tribune’s editorial board is a special irritant. It is a respository of shrill, lunatic leftism that is simply impervious to facts; it lacks a single moderating voice. The editorial board is a long-time fan of Michael Moore — the board loved him even before “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
The Star Tribune editorial board specializes in contrary-to-fact editorials asserting blatant falsehoods as articles of faith. They recite their daily credo and issue related anathemas. Almost unbelievably, on Thursday the Star Tribune published an editorial criticizing Minnesota’s popular Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty for going to Kosovo this weekend to visit the Minnesota National Guard unit serving there: “Gridlock toll; Kosovo can wait, bonding can’t.” Here’s the first paragraph of the Star Tribune editorial:

The price Minnesota is paying for this year’s unfinished legislative session is climbing fast even as Gov. Tim Pawlenty gets set to climb into an airplane for yet another photo-op trip to Kosovo. Pawlenty should keep his feet on the ground and put his shoulder to doing the business he was elected to do.

The remainder of the editorial itemizes the alleged problems that Pawlenty should be addressing in Minnesota.
Governor Pawlenty responds in today’s Star Tribune: “Our military in Kosovo won’t take a back seat to partisan theater in St. Paul.” Here’s what he has to say:

Half a world away, in a country few Americans can find on a globe, more than 800 Minnesota citizen soldiers are hard at work. They’re keeping the peace in a country that has been torn by war, dictatorship and genocide.
These men and woman keeping the peace are not full-time soldiers — they’re volunteers in the Minnesota National Guard. And they’re the bulk of the U.S. peacekeeping force that stands between the people of Kosovo and violence.
The First Lady and I are going to Kosovo to thank these brave, selfless men and women and the families they leave at home. The public is understandably focused on places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not forget, however, the tremendous service that members of our military provide in other places such as Kosovo.
That’s why it was so disheartening to read the Star Tribune editorial that criticized our trip to Kosovo this weekend. I normally don’t bother to respond to the criticism I receive from the Star Tribune editorial writers. Their perspective is hopelessly imbalanced, increasingly shrill and often just simply inaccurate or incomplete.
They have an angry and dismissive attitude toward conservatives or Republicans — unless, of course, the Republicans are the sort who are nearly indistinguishable in their views from Democrats.
After four months of rhetoric and posturing, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned with few significant accomplishments. In the last week of the legislative session, Senate DFL leader Dean Johnson said publicly that his caucus didn’t need anything out of the session. After Democrats decided to fire my commissioner of education, Sen. Johnson proudly proclaimed that his caucus “had arrived.” Numerous meetings, letters and other efforts have yielded no progress toward getting some things done in a possible special session.
The trip to Kosovo requires that I be gone one business day. I left Thursday evening and return this evening. To criticize being gone one business day to thank our troops when nothing has happened at the Legislature for months is ridiculous and represents a new low even for the editorial writers of this newspaper.
Because partisanship has drawn things to a halt in the State Capitol, I’ve taken extraordinary executive actions to move ahead without legislative action. The budget deficit the Legislature ignored was wiped away with a stroke of my pen. A critical crime-fighting agency, the Gang Strike Force, was slated to disband because the Legislature didn’t pass funding. Our administration found the money to keep the group working for Minnesota. On Thursday, I took executive action to address threatened property tax increases by cities and to avoid layoffs of public defenders as a result of legislative inaction.
As governor, I’m going to continue to find ways to keep Minnesota working, even with a do-nothing Senate that appears to embrace gridlock as a “victory.”
One thing is for sure — I won’t be letting the men and women of the Minnesota National Guard and their important mission in Kosovo take a back seat to partisan theater at the State Capitol. I would also hope that, when it comes to supporting and thanking our troops, the Star Tribune editorial writers would at least pretend to be fair for one day.

Fair for one day? No chance, none whatsoever. Indeed, when asked his opinion of the Star Tribune editorial at the airport on his way out of the country, Governor Pawlenty responded: “Outrageously stupid!” His column today proves the point with a flourish.


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