The “Abject Failure” Strikes Back [Updated]

Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz is utterly incompetent. For the details, read the just-released issue of Thinking Minnesota, which drives political debate in my state. During the days of rioting, looting and arson in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd, it became obvious that the situation was a disaster. Walz tried to distance himself from the debacle by saying in a press conference that fellow Democrat Jacob Frey, the Boy Mayor of Minneapolis, had been an “abject failure,” but Walz was now taking over and things would get better. Rarely has a politician been so definitively thrown under the bus.

Walz’s denunciation came as a shock to Mayor Frey, whose political career is presumed to be over. But Frey has finally counter-attacked, and in a man-bites-dog moment, the Star Tribune is willing to criticize a Democratic Governor of Minnesota. I am not sure this has ever happened before.

Frey has nothing to lose and knows where some of the bodies are buried. So we get this from the Star Tribune: Mayor Frey: Gov. Walz hesitated to deploy National Guard during Minneapolis riots.

The Strib’s story is based largely on texts and emails obtained from the City of Minneapolis via a public records request. The fact that the Strib was able to obtain them only two months after the events in question means that Frey was eager to get them out.

Jacob Frey has been cast as the mayor who lost control of his city, enduring criticism from the state’s governor that the Minneapolis response to rioting in May over the police killing of George Floyd was an “abject failure.”

Now Frey is speaking out, saying Gov. Tim Walz failed to take his requests for help seriously until it was too late.

In an interview Monday, Frey said that Walz hesitated to send in the National Guard to quell the growing violence and then blamed him for allowing the city to burn.

“Through an extremely difficult situation, I told the truth,” Frey said Monday.

Unlike Walz, evidently.

“I relayed information as best I could to state partners. And we did what was demanded for the sake of our city.”

Frey told the truth, and Walz lied. That is the gist of the Strib story, which includes copious references to the paper trail that shows the governor’s incompetence.

Rarely has ineptitude at all levels combined to produce a disaster equal to what has happened in Minneapolis. The whole story is told here.

It is hard not to be sympathetic to Mayor Frey, who obviously is unqualified for the office he holds, but nevertheless tried, at least, to protect his city, and was sold down the river by his state’s governor and fellow Democrat, the even more incompetent Tim Walz. The good news is that Walz is up for re-election in 2022, and given his deepening unpopularity, it is hard to see how he can win a second term.

UPDATE: The battle between Walz and Frey has intensified, with Walz now mocking the Minnesota National Guard–in which he once served–in order to save his own political skin:

Far from being “cooks,” many of the Guardsmen that were deployed to quell the riots were specially trained for the task, as the Guard’s commander, Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, testified:

And, Jensen said, not all Guard members have the same skills.

“We train about 700 soldiers in a given year to respond for this particular mission. We can use them for other things, but they receive specific civil disturbance training. It became very apparent late Thursday night that we were going to need all 700 of those,” he said.

The Minnesota National Guard deployed repeatedly to Iraq, as Wikipedia recites:

More than 8,000 Minnesota National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

Sixteen Minnesota National Guard Soldiers died in Iraq,[15] and 79 earned Purple Heart Medals due to injuries received in combat.
The Minnesota National Guard’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division was an important part of the 2007 “surge.” As a result of the extension of their tour to 16 months in Iraq, and 22 months overall, the Red Bulls are recognized as having served the second longest tour of duty in Iraq of any military unit, active or reserve.

Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division stand at attention with the brigade colors as 1/34th BCT Caiman vehicles cross the Iraqi border into Kuwait for the last time
The Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing expertly provided real-time surveillance for ground commanders using their Theater Aerial Reconnaissance System.

St. Paul’s 34th Combat Aviation Brigade was responsible for corps-level helicopter support from 2008 to 2009.

In 2009-2010, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Headquarters provided command and control for 16,000 U.S. military Service members operating in nine of Iraq’s 18 provinces.
With the prevalence of improvised explosive devices on the roadways in Iraq, the St. Paul-based 133rd Airlift Wing provided critical aerial transportation of people, equipment and materiel throughout the region.

In 2011, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division mission in Kuwait was the largest deployment of Minnesota Guardsmen since World War II. The brigade’s mission included base management, convoy security, reaction forces, and management of specialized units from the Army, Navy and Coast Guard. The brigade drove 1.35 million miles and escorted 25,970 trucks during 480 missions prior to the last U.S. military convoy departing Iraq.

Pretty impressive service for a bunch of 19 year old cooks.

While Walz likes to tout his service in the National Guard, he did not participate in those deployments. He resigned from the Guard (the 1-125th Field Artillery Battalion) in 2005 rather than go to Iraq. Walz was then the unit’s senior Non-Commissioned Officer, and fellow officers later criticized his dodging deployment to Iraq:

“For Tim Walz to abandon his fellow soldiers and quit when they needed experienced leadership most is disheartening,” retired Command Sergeant Majors Thomas Behrends and Paul Herr wrote in a West Central Tribune op-ed.

Governor Walz’s failure of leadership in connection with the Minneapolis riots is stark. The fact that Jacob Frey also was inept cannot obscure that fact.

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