Tim Pawlenty All But Announces

Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota spoke on Friday night to the conservative Values Voter Summit hosted by the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council in Washington DC delivering a partisan attack on the policies of the Obama Administration.

The story in the New York Times:

After warming up by discussing his record back home and the importance of faith and values, Mr. Pawlenty, a Republican in his second term as governor, struck at the Democrats' attempts to overhaul the health care system.

"This proposal needs to get killed," Mr. Pawlenty said. "It is a bad idea."

"With all due respect, Mr. President, if we're out of money, stop spending it," he also said.

Mr. Pawlenty also referenced -- and seemed far from upset about -- a new campaign from the Democratic National Committee that he was the first target of. The campaign is titled "Call `Em Out," a reference to Mr. Obama's vow during his address to Congress last week.

The Minnesota governor elicited a standing ovation by retorting, "I'll respond by calling out the president back tonight."

Earlier in the speech, Mr. Pawlenty had stressed his pro-life bona fides, an important topic in a conference sponsored by, among others, the socially conservative Family Research Council.

And he touted his record in Minnesota, where he said he turned a "left-of-center state into a fiscally responsible state."

If that can be done in a state that produced well-known liberals like Hubert H. Humphrey and Walter Mondale, he said, it can be done anywhere.

At a time when his official public events as governor have been few and far between, Governor Pawlenty has been stumping across the country, speaking to GOP audiences and offering the party's critique of Democrats on TV talk shows. Tonight, he all but announced his candidacy for President.

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A Balance of Power Tilting towards Beijing

Yesterday, President Obama addressed the opening session of the first US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, noting that the relationship between the two countries will shape the 21st century. If there is such a thing as a G2, there is little doubt that grouping is the United States and China. Certainly as the President opined Sino-American relations are as "important as any bilateral relationship in the world."

With this in mind, US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) going forward will be a bi-annual event rotating between Washington and Beijing. The SED is a successor to a wide-ranging consultation begun under the Bush administration by the former Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr, aimed at coordinating economic and trade issues. Secretary Clinton pushed successfully to have these bilateral engagements broadened to include strategic geo-political concerns.

If the world axis has centered on the Atlantic for the past few centuries, that axis has certainly shifted to some degree first with the rise of Japan as the world's second largest economy but in the coming century the transformation of China from an economic backwater to an economic powerhouse seems to augur for a paradigm shift in the world's economic order. Even if a billion Chinese remain in endemic poverty, 400 million have escaped that crushing load. This is the most significant development of the post Cold War period and it will have lasting repercussions. The world's center of gravity is increasingly in East Asia, not just China, though increasingly China is at the center of events in the region.

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When Wen Jiabao Speaks

In 2008, China's holdings of US debt grew 52.3%. All told, the Chinese bought $249.8 billion in US treasuries and now hold $727.4 billion surpassing Japan as the nation's largest lender. Today speaking at his annual press conference at the close of China's parliament, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said: "We have made a huge amount of loans to the United States. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I'm a little bit worried."

Concerned, worried and increasingly blunt for this isn't the first time that the Chinese Premier has lectured US policymakers. Back in late January at the Davos World Economic Forum, he delivered a stinging rebuke of American capitalism calling it an "unsustainable model of development characterized by prolonged low savings and high consumption." Unfortunately, he does have a point.

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'Political Archaeologists' Find 'A Hell of an Empire'

"For a bunch of small-government Republicans," one former denizen of the White House who has now stepped back inside for the first time in eight years, "these guys built a hell of an empire."

The political archaeologists in this case being former Clinton staffers returning to survey their once and future home only to discover an infrastructure of government several magnitudes greater even as the Republic which it governed lays in waste. The former Clinton staffers soon to be Obama staffers are dumbstruck by size of the enterprise they are about to inherit but I say wait until they uncover the not yet fully visible damage that the Republicans have wrought. I am sure as the Democrats regain the levers of power and bring to the full light of day all that has transpired since January 20, 2001, we will find ourselves in shock and disbelief if not outraged, perplexed and angered. Who knows the full extent of the damage that the Bush Administration has wrought?

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