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In all of my running around yesterday, I managed to miss this story, but it shouldn't go without comment. Yesterday, Minnesota Democrats (called DFL up here) unveiled an ad attacking Governor Tim Pawlenty over the issue of sex offenders, accusing him of doing nothing to stop their release from prison. They got the ads on the air just in time, too -- considering that the gubernatorial election is only 32 months away:
Accompanied by menacing music, the 30-second spot zeroes in on Pawlenty's face as a narrator says, "These eyes just watched as administrative bungling and the wrong budget priorities let rapists and sexual predators back on our streets."
It goes on to accuse the Republican governor of distracting the public from that issue by "playing death penalty politics" in his proposal to restore capital punishment for particularly heinous murders.
Pawlenty lashed back at several public appearances Tuesday, calling the ad bizarre and hypocritical. "They are using a paid political attack ad to accuse me of playing politics," he said.
Many people see the hand of DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch behind the attack, the only statewide DFL officeholder and one who has pursued every excuse for criminal investigations of Pawlenty that he could. Easily the most political Attorney General in my experience, Hatch recently contributed $41,000 to the DFL. The ads cost the party $50,000:
Republicans noted that Hatch, considered a likely DFL challenger for governor in 2006, had never given as much to the party before his well-publicized battles in 2003 with Pawlenty over the Rodriguez case and several ethics controversies.
"It's fair to ask whether Mike Hatch is funneling money to the DFL Party for the sole purpose of attacking Governor Pawlenty," said Randy Wanke, state GOP spokesman. "This attack goes down the same road that Hatch took last summer [on sex offender release policies and budget cuts], and everybody knows Hatch has designs on the governor's office."
It's hard to decide where to begin in deconstructing this attack and laying out exactly how stupid it really is. First of all, the case that got everyone's blood boiling was the Alfonso Rodriguez release and subsequent kidnaping of Dru Sjodin. As I've extensively blogged, the state failed in its duty to civilly commit Rodriguez, who was a classic case for indefinite confinement. The only problem was that Rodriguez was approved for release under the last administration, and as much as I dislike Jesse Ventura, I don't think Jesse personally performed or approved the evaluation.
Second, the laws that allowed Rodriguez and others to even be eligible for release after multiple third-degree sexual offenses and serious felonies like kidnaping weren't written by Pawlenty; they were written by state legislatures that for decades were controlled by one party, and it wasn't the Republicans. State sentencing laws, as developed by the touchy-feely DFL over that period, are so lax that it's rare for even a first-degree murder conviction to result in a flat life sentence. The emphasis on rehabilitation in sentencing almost always allows convicts an early release option.
Third, if the DFL was so upset about the law, sentencing guidelines, and the allocation of funds, then they should be introducing legislation in the state Senate, where they still have a majority. These ads do nothing except point out that the DFL would much rather score political points off of Pawlenty than do anything useful, including the issue of sexual offenders. They are a testament to a party whose intellectual capacity has declined so badly that instead of putting an effort into crafting solutions, all they can do is advertise in 30-second sound bites.
How bad is it? Don't take my word for it -- because when even ultraliberal Doug Grow thinks the DFL has lost its grip on reality, then you know they're in the deep weeds:
I said it was desperate. There are huge issues in the state. The governor's refusal to budge on taxes. Job losses. School districts wanting. The higher ed system wanting. Transportation wanting. Health care in disarray. A bus strike.
Given all of this, the DFL is trying to politicize the issue of sexual predators? ...
Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, said the ad sends a powerful message.
"The DFL is seriously lacking in strategic intelligence," Jacobs said. "This is Exhibit G." ...
Many more DFL ads like this, and [Republicans] won't have to buy ads at all.
Grow unleashes his satirical bite well on the DFL, who richly deserve it. The DFL couldn't do a better job of making themselves the opposition party statewide if they had planned it that way. The have-nothing, do-nothing DFLers, led by their Machiavellian Pied Piper, Mike Hatch, are all about to be led merrily out of power, singing and dancing the entire way, if this ad is an indication of how they plan to contest the 2004 and 2006 elections.Sphere It View blog reactions
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