Pawlenty’s acute case of Romney-itis

PAWLENTY’S ACUTE CASE OF ROMNEY-ITIS…. We’ve seen this dynamic before. In fact, we saw it just a couple of years ago.

Mitt Romney was known as a relatively moderate Republican governor of a reliably “blue” state, who could present himself, with a straight face, as a pragmatic, sane policymaker. Then Romney decided what he really wanted was to be president. Sane, moderate pragmatism wouldn’t win over the Republican base, so that persona would have to be cast aside. It was painful to watch, and ultimately ineffective.

Here we go again. Tim Pawlenty was also known as a relatively moderate Republican governor of a reliably “blue” state. And like Romney, Pawlenty has decided that what he really wants is to be president. So, in keeping with the predictable model, Pawlenty has decided to go full-on crazy to impress the type of folks who vote in Republican presidential primaries.

Minnesota Republican Tim Pawlenty urged fellow governors on Thursday to more frequently assert state sovereignty over the federal government and suggested that the country may increasingly see states suing the federal government.

Asked by a caller about the option of asserting the Tenth Amendment as a tactic to reject a successful health care overhaul by President Barack Obama during a tele-town hall organized by the Republican Governors Association, Pawlenty said, “that’s a possibility.”

Speaking generally about the tenth amendment, Pawlenty said the country has not had “a proper federalism debate since Ronald Reagan raised the issue in the 1980s.”

“You’re starting to see more governors, me and governor [Rick] Perry from Texas, speaking out on this and asserting our tenth amendment rights,” Pawlenty said on a call listened to by more than 12,000 people.

Pawlenty’s pandering comes just a week after he criticized President Obama’s speech encouraging kids to do well in school. The governor argued, out loud, that the White House might have been trying to compile a list of children “for the purpose of a mailing list.” It’s likely he knew this was moronic, but Pawlenty has some Tea Baggers to impress, and some right-wing ground to make up.

But this ridiculous “Tenther” rhetoric is even more radical. As Ian Millhiser recently explained, “[C]nservatives are increasingly enraptured with tentherism, which claims that landmark federal programs such as Medicare, Social Security, the VA health system and the G.I. Bill are violations of the 10th Amendment — and many leading conservative officials are determined to impose the tentherism on the country. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is a tenther, as are Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).”

Tim Pawlenty probably realizes this is insane, but his ambitions have overridden his judgment.

Romney-itis, in other words, has claimed another victim. Regrettably, there is no cure.

Update: Dave Weigel has the full transcript of Pawlenty’s comments.