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Letter: Learning from Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty is an interesting fellow. We can learn a lot from him. He is quite intelligent. He shows considerable political skill in getting his way, despite the fact that the majority of those voting chose someone else in both of his gubernatorial elections. He now spends his time anywhere other than Minnesota with visions dancing in his head of life in a big white mansion in Washington, D.C., at the center of the very government that he says he hates.

He has come a long way from his childhood family in blue-collar South St. Paul, where his father was a truck driver and the family received government benefits following his mother's untimely death. He's a self-made man. He doesn't look back. He travels the country trying to outdo Sarah Palin in his denunciations of taxes and government and his God talk.

But where would he be without taxes and government and Minnesota's liberal tradition of relatively high taxes to pay for quality education? Without his approximately 20 years of education paid for by Minnesota taxpayers, most of whom had no more than a high school education or less, he would have been lucky to have found a job driving truck. Minnesota taxpayers put him through the University of Minnesota and through its law school. Now he says those taxes are too high and that funding for higher education needs to be cut. He's a self-made man. Gratitude and introspection are not his strong suits. He's spent a good part of his life receiving government paychecks, and now he's seeking a big raise.

His budgets reflect his values: tax cuts for the wealthy and cutoffs for the poorest and the sickest. Then, without a trace of shame, he tells his right-wing audiences that God is in control. In the good old days, that sort of blasphemy would have caused him to be instantly crisped by a lightning bolt from above, but that was a long time ago. However, Marty Seifert, the likely Republican candidate, could actually make Pawlenty look good.

John Burns