My goodness! Dana Milbank is acting like a real reporter, actually fact-checking the "truthful" Republican presidential hopeful, Tim Pawlenty:
“President Obama unfortunately doesn’t have the courage to look the American people in the eye and tell them the tough truth,” Pawlenty informed Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show. “I’ll do that.”
In a phone interview with Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey, he promised “a serious, tell-the-truth, courageous message.”
And in Des Moines, Pawlenty delivered an announcement speech, “A Time for Truth,” that contained 16 instances of the word “truth” in the prepared text.
But just an hour after unburdening himself of these truths in Iowa, the candidate went on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and told a bit of a fib.
The talk-show host, who serves as the unofficial gatekeeper to the Republican nomination, presented Pawlenty with a 2006 newspaper article in which he said that “the era of small government is over” and that “government has to be more proactive, more aggressive.”
The truth-teller beat a hasty retreat. He claimed that he had merely been referencing somebody else’s words — “I didn’t say those words myself” — that his political opponents had “pushed that falsely,” and that the newspaper was motivated by political bias and was forced to issue a correction.
To verify Pawlenty’s truthfulness, I looked up the article, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and discovered that Pawlenty had taken some liberties with the facts.
The article is all about Pawlenty’s efforts as governor to take on drug and oil companies and other practitioners of “excessive corporate power.” It includes his boast that many ideological Republicans “don’t even talk to me anymore” because of his support for things such as the minimum wage.
“The era of small government is over,” Pawlenty told the newspaper. “I’m a market person, but there are certain circumstances where you’ve got to have government put up the guardrails or bust up entrenched interests before they become too powerful. . . . Government has to be more proactive, more aggressive.”
The newspaper did issue a “clarification,” but only to say that Pawlenty’s quote about small government was “in reference to a point” made by the conservative writer David Brooks — one that Pawlenty, from his other comments, obviously agreed with.
Now, the funny thing is, Pawlenty would probably be a better presidential candidate carrying that message. Certainly, there are still Republicans who'd turn out to vote for a Republican candidate who isn't a right-wing nut case. Unfortunately, the basic requirement for a successful GOP primary candidate is still a noticable measure of insanity, so he's just going to have to make things up as he goes along.