T-PAW Behind the Times

Former Minnesota Tim Pawlenty (R) decided to run for President on Monday.  Let’s see if it’s a decision he sticks with.  Because when it comes to environmental decisions, he has a habit of repeatedly changing his mind.

A quick review of Pawlenty’s career shows that, in the past, he has often worked to protect public health and the environment in the past. He pushed for expanding mass transit in his home state, and he even backed the cap-and-trade approach to fighting climate change.

Or at least his did temporarily. Once he set his sights on the White House, he decided to renounce his support of cap and trade in a hat tip to the Tea Party. Plenty of politicians reverse course during their professional lives. But what Pawlenty generally does is more troubling than your average flip flop: he only flip flops when it seems fashionable.

Instead of leading the way, Pawlenty waits for the crowd to move, and then he jumps on the bandwagon. That’s not what I call leadership.

For years Pawlenty opposed a commuter rail project, but changed his mind when the G.W. Bush Administration concluded that the project would be cost-effective and save commuters time. He backed another light-rail project that would have connected Minneapolis and St Paul… until 2008 when he followed a group of Republican governors who were refusing to accept federal money for green infrastructure investments like high-speed rail.

Even in his reversal on climate action, Pawlenty says he is just following a trend. As governor, Pawlenty signed a climate law in 2007 designed to reduce Minnesota’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, he helped launch a regional climate initiative within the Midwest, and he and then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano made a radio ad calling on Congress to address climate.

Yet when asked why he is now saying cap and trade is a “clunker,” his defense is essentially “all the kids are doing it”:   "As to cap and trade, almost everybody who's run has got the same problem," Pawlenty said at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference recently.

Pawlenty likes to embrace new trends, but only after the trend-setters have stated their position. He’s the guy who will start wearing bell-bottoms when the cool kids are tight-rolling their jeans. Just take his nickname. He actually calls himself T-Paw. Even then, you have to wonder why he is copying a Jennifer Lopez handle from 2002. Couldn’t he be a little more current?

His pack-mentality makes him a safe, predictable choice—he isn’t likely to propose anything radical or cutting edge. But considering the state of our economy, environment, and position in the world, America could use a trend-setter, not a follower.

We don’t need someone who will only be moved by major events or political pressure. We need someone who will take a stand and define the path forward.

Considering the major threats looming over our country—prolonged economic recession, two protracted wars, a changing climate—we desperately need strong leadership. This is not the time for fence-sitters.

Tim Pawlenty seems destined to let someone else define his environmental agenda.  If his track record is any indication, I am nervous that that someone is the Tea Party. He might occasionally veer off in one direction or the other, he might support clean energy or he might decide that climate change isn’t a problem anymore. But he is not likely to set his own course for America.

And we need someone with the courage to do that.

This blog was originally posted on NRDC Action Fund’s The Mark Up.


What the Candidates Think About Abstinence-Only Sex Education

The discussion of abstinence-only sex education in schools has fallen off the radar.  The idea that sex education in schools should be based on abstinence and not on a more comprehensive approach seems to be a topic of the past.

But is it? This divisive issue returns every year as federal funds are doled out to pet projects.

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Elizabeth Edwards Speaks Truth To The Press

In today's OpEd section of The New York Times, Elizabeth Edwards delivers a very well expressed and unfortunately, very necessary, critique of today's press regarding the picking of a president.

Opening with a mention of the media's (lack of serious) coverage of the Pennsylvania primary, Elizabeth hits the nail on the head and calls the press out for what it has become: shallow. She also notes that she is not alone in this observation.

I'm not the only one who noticed this shallow news coverage. A report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy found that during the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, 63 percent of the campaign stories focused on political strategy while only 15 percent discussed the candidates' ideas and proposals.

The picking of our president is too important a task to approach without good, solid analysis of a candidate's policies and positions.

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We aren't going to have honest debate about healthcare until after primaries

As many of you know, healthcare has been a big issue for me for a long time. As I explained elsewhere, my family-- specifically-  my mother died from the crappy healthcare system that we now see ourselved under.

I had hoped in the heat of the primary season we could still have a reasonable discussion about healthcare reforms. But I realize so long as people care more about candidate advocacy or idealogical claptrap that will be an impossibility.

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The Mitt Romney Immigration Double Speak

crossposted on the NoSlaves.com blog 


Mitt Romney wants to send your job to China and if he can't do that, he wants to bring in cheaper foreign labor to displace you anyway.

While Mitt Romney trudges across Iowa blasting his opponents on illegal immigration, look at how willing he is to labor arbitrage other Americans and increase guest worker Visas!  While wages and costs are some of the legitimate concerns on illegal immigration, magically, middle class professionals are perfectly acceptable for displacement!

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