Why Minnesota matters

I started following the story that I called Minnesota Cage Match for two reasons: I thought, given the constellation of forces at work, that events here would foreshadow events in Washington, and I found the slant of the incompetent media coverage driven by the Minneapolis Star Tribune to be sickening. As in the national mainstream media, Democrats here control what Glenn Reynolds calls “the master media narrative,” only more so. Let us briefly review the state of play.

In the mighty storm of the 2010 elections, Republicans won control of the Minnesota House and Senate. How long has it been since this happened? Time whereof the Memory of Man runneth not to the contrary.

At the same time, Minnesota’s three-way gubernatorial election served up disgraced Democrat Mark Dayton. Dayton inherited great wealth from the family business that he shunned. As I recall, Dayton met his first wife (a Rockefeller) in something like group therapy for guilty millionaires. Now Dayton has the whole state of Minnesota with which to work through his feelings of unworthiness.

Dayton believes in increasing taxes on “millionaires” the way most of us believe in God. It’s an article of faith that is the centerpiece of his creed. Minnesota is a state that features high income taxes, but those damned “millionaires” are somehow always escaping payment of their “fair share.” When will it ever end?

Facing a projected biennial deficit of billions of dollars, Dayton demanded an increase in income taxes. To the great annoyance of the Minnesota media, it’s a demand that was a non-starter for the Republican majorities in the state legislature. Led by House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch the Republicans hung tough through a government shutdown that commenced on July 1 and continued over the daily caterwauling of the local media. Speaker Zellers and Senator Koch still have a job to do in selling the deal to their caucuses and perhaps fleshing it out to their liking, but I think they have their finger on the members’ pulse.

Every day we were inundated with propaganda. Every day the Minnesota media featured stories of the hardship created by the shutdown. A coalition of unions and millionaire state Democratic donors operating through the Alliance for a Better Minnesota ran a million-dollar ad campaign supporting Dayton’s proposed tax increases and defaming Dayton’s opponents as enemies of humanity (i.e., “the middle class”). The forces supporting Dayton spent so much money on advertisements that the advertisements showed up via automated feeds targeting Minnesota readers on conservative sites such as NRO, the American Thinker and Power Line.

The shutdown should end in a matter of days on terms that closely follow those Republicans offered on June 30 in response to an offer that Governor Dayton made and then withdrew. Speaking to House Majority Leader Matt Dean tonight, I was told that Democrats in the legislature are “ticked off and livid” with the outcome. I offer the following tentative comments.

There was no reason for the shutdown other than that Governor Dayton wanted it. Republicans wanted to be called back into session to pass lights on bills that would keep the government running while the parties continued to negotiate. The end of the shutdown on the agreed terms is not a victory for Dayton. It is a concession of defeat.

Governor Dayton is a peculiar breed of cat. He is a recovering alcoholic. He is a victim of mental illness. He is highly medicated. He is erratic. He lacks executive skill or temperament. As a United States Senator he couldn’t even manage his own office without gross embarrassment.

When Dayton wanted to defuse the personal issues lurking in the background of his gubernatorial candidacy, whom did he call on? Lori Sturdevant and the Star Tribune. There is a reason why Star Tribune readers might not have a great handle on the dynamics underlying the shutdown.

But Dayton is only about as clueless as Barack Obama, if for different reasons. On this point, see Angelo Codevilla’s “The chosen one.” Just this week Dayton hit the road to pitch his proposed tax increases — any tax increases. We can only infer that, once he got out of his cocoon in St. Paul, he did not feel the love he was looking for.

Over at MinnPost, Doug Grow and James Nord round up a lot of quotes regarding the deal that will probably end the shutdown. Gary Gross provides a conservative take on the deal here. They make it clear that Governor Dayton did not come away empty handed.

But folks, come on. This is Minnesota. Republicans have mostly won a pitched battle with a Democratic governor on spending and taxes in a liberal state. Dayton caved on his signature issue. If Republicans can make it here, they can make it anywhere.