Former Minnesota governor and 2012 hopeful Tim Pawlenty has come out swinging against the federal government’s use of bailouts – banks, auto companies, etc. – to “rescue” the economy. “I didn’t support – don’t support – bailing out places like Wall Street, General Motors and the like with respect to the federal government,” Pawlenty told Fox News Sunday.
And in his new book, Courage to Stand, Pawlenty wrote:
When the rain started to fall on America’s picnic, Washington hung up a big old plastic tarp to protect us from the deluge. (Ever wonder why they call some of these things “TARP funds”?] Good intentions? Maybe. But a bad decision. The problem was, the rain just kept coming. The tarp started sagging in the middle and filling up with water. Poke it with a broom handle all you want, try to drain some of that rainwater over the sides, but the blanket below is getting awfully wet in the meantime. Everyone can see the tarp’s starting to tear at the seams, and we’ve run out of duct tape. This whole thing’s going to collapse-and the picnic will simply be over. Time for a new plan.
But back when the bailouts were happening, Pawlenty wasn’t nearly as outspoken in his opposition to bailouts. In fact, he seemed quite supportive of them if reluctantly so. In fact, that’s exactly how then-US News & World Report writer Jim Pethokoukis described Pawlenty’s support of TARP: “Pawlenty says he is reluctantly for it.”
Pawlenty also told NBC’s Matt Lauer, in response to a question about the bailouts, that “something needed to be done.” And before the National Press Club in 2008, Pawlenty described TARP as “an imperfect solution, but you also have to be pragmatic about getting the mess cleaned up.”
I think what bothers me more about Pawlenty’s flip-flop on the bailouts isn’t so much that he flip-flopped, which is bad enough, but that he’s not being entirely honest about his flip-flop. If he told us that he supported the bailouts at the time, because it seemed like the right thing to do, but now realizes that they were a mistake I could accept that at face value.
But self-righteously railing against the bailouts with all the wisdom of 20/20 hindsight when you, at the time, were at least somewhat supportive of them? That’s the sort of hypocrisy that will keep you from getting elected President.