If cliches are the enemy of good writing, they can also be the core of successful speeches. Putative presidential contender Tim Pawlenty killed the crowd at CPAC this afternoon, and perhaps no line drew more applause than this string of platitudes. “We’ve had enough of the hype and speeches filled with rhetoric that soars — but takes us in the wrong direction,” Pawlenty said. “This is about rolling up our sleeves, plowing forward, standing tall, and getting the job done.” Explosive applause. Cue another “T-Paw” chant.
The shot at Obama’s oratory was one of innumerable broadsides Pawlenty aimed at the President. He hit Obama for spending too much, for backing down from bullies (the Obama-as-apologist canard was a decisive winner today), for “Obamacare,” for expanding government, for appeasing Iran and Russia. (Pawlenty made mention, interestingly, of the Muslim Brotherhood, though he didn’t mention Egypt specifically.) You can sum up the substance in a couple of binaries without losing much in translation. Obama is Carter, not Reagan. Government bad, private sector good. The U.S. should be strong, not weak. We spend too much and don’t create enough jobs. A typical sentence: “We need more common sense, and less Obama nonsense.”
The knock against Tim Pawlenty, which Adam reviewed in a good post a few days back, is that he’s too milquetoast for a fired-up base. Adam’s theory was that Pawlenty could be the “vessel for anti-Romney Republicans,” the guy who could lag back as the backlash built and then bolt for the rail when the base begins openly clamoring for a social-conservative substitute.
Pawlenty showed no interest in that strategy today. Poised and energetic, he drew out the audience, particularly during sustained attacks on Obama’s foreign policy. Like Romney, he peppered his address with laugh lines. (A sampling: “President Obama has done the impossible. He’s proven that someone can deserve a Nobel Prize less than Al Gore!” And: “The federal government spends our money the way Keith Olbermann talks: too much, without a point, and it leaves the whole country confused.”) Unlike Romney, who ducked a health care issue to steer clear of his own vulnerabilities, he savaged the individual mandate, calling it “completely backward thinking.” He argued that the U.S. should “move toward God, not away from Him,” which will surely appeal to social conservatives. He stumped for a balanced-budget amendment and an overhaul of the federal tax code. He brought Tea Partyers to their feet by agitating against a debt-limit hike.
Other than that, the speech — remarks as prepared for delivery are after the jump — was remarkably airy, even for a setting that’s more pep rally than policy forum. At some point, Pawlenty will need to sharpen his own points, rather than just sharply rebuke Obama. But today his stinging criticisms were enough to win over a friendly crowd.
REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Thank you and thanks to Sean Duffy.
Are you fired up and ready to take back our country? That’s great, we really need you. You know why?
President Obama has done the impossible. He’s proven that someone can deserve a Nobel Prize less than Al Gore!
Now, I’m not one who questions the existence of the President’s birth certificate. But when you listen to his policies, don’t you at least wonder what planet he’s from? On what planet do they create jobs by taxing the daylight out of people trying to grow jobs? On what planet do they try to reduce the deficit by spending even more? On what planet do they make health care better by putting bureaucrats in charge?
I do tip the cap to President Obama in at least one area: he’s pretty good at duping the mainstream media. In fact, some of them have been reporting that he’s behaving like Ronald Reagan. Can you believe that?
Ronald Reagan knew how to stare down our enemies. He understood the price of freedom. He understood that putting our people back to work means the U.S. must be open for business not open to more taxation, more regulation, and more big government strangulation.
Ladies and gentleman: Barack Obama is not behaving like Ronald Reagan! He’s behaving like Jimmy Carter!
The individual mandate in Obamacare is a page right out of the Jimmy Carter playbook. The left simply doesn’t understand. The individual mandate reflects completely backwards thinking. They, the bureaucrats, don’t tell us what to do. We, the people, tell the government what to do!
We’re blessed to live in the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. Our freedom is the very air we breathe. Make no mistake: The policies of the left encroach every day on the very freedom that has made this country great. We will never, ever, ever stop fighting for our freedom.
If we bend, if we compromise, on this bedrock issue we are in danger of losing our edge. But there’s a real concern that we’re losing our edge already. Did you know that a recent survey asked Americans which country they thought would be the dominant country in the world in just twenty years? Guess what the answer was? China!
You know what I say to that: No way! No how! Not the America we know. Not the America we love!
America’s rightful place is not lagging behind China. America’s place is leading the world!
My friends, we need to restore American confidence, American optimism, and America’s hope for the future. We need to restore the American Dream by restoring American common sense.
As Washington proves time and time again, not everyone’s born or elected with common sense. We need leaders who remember where they came from, and what made this nation the greatest country the world has ever known.
For me, that real world experience started in my hometown of South St. Paul, Minnesota – a place filled with good-hearted people, strong families and the rock-solid values of the heartland.
Back in the 60s, when I grew up there, it was home to some of the world’s largest stockyards and meat-packing plants. Many families in my hometown relied on those big plants for their paychecks, for their family’s well-being and for their future. But those plants shut down, and so did a big part of the spirit and the soul of my hometown.
My mom died when I was 16 and not much longer after that, my dad, who worked for a trucking company, lost his job for awhile. The foundations of my hometown and my family were shaken hard.
At a young age, I saw up close the face of loss, the face of hardship, the face of losing a job and I saw in the mirror the face of a very uncertain future. I know many Americans are feeling that way today. I know that feeling – I’ve lived it.
But in those moments, we learn some things. We see some things. We remember what’s important. One of the most important things that we should always remember is the motto of our country “In God we trust.” And we should stand on that foundation as our founders intended.
A few weeks into the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin addressed George Washington and the other convention members, speaking to the bedrock importance of seeking God’s guidance as they pursued the sacred task of creating our country.
He said, “I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” Ladies and Gentlemen, we, as a nation, must move towards God, not away from Him.
The solutions to our problems aren’t easy, but they’re not a mystery either. We simply need to remind each other what made this country great and restore America’s greatness by restoring American common sense. We need more common sense and less Obama non-sense.
And let’s start with this: We can’t spend more than we take in.
You can’t do it as an individual. You can’t do it as a family. You can’t do it as a business. And we can’t let our government do it anymore.
The big spenders in Washington D.C. have us on a course of trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see.
The federal government spends our money the way Keith Olbermann talks: too much without a point and it leaves the whole country confused.
It’s not a matter of right versus left. It’s a matter of 6th grade mathematics. It isn’t going to work. It’s irresponsible, it’s unsustainable and it’s reckless. Just because we followed Greece into democracy, does not mean we need to follow them into bankruptcy!
And, of course, the government spenders come with excuses. They say, “Oh, Governor, how do you do that? It’s too hard. The politics are difficult and the interest groups are really tough.”
I know something about the spenders and I know something about difficult. I’m from the state of McCarthy, Mondale, Humphrey, Wellstone and now United States Senator Al Franken.
But we cut government in Minnesota. If we can do it there, we can do it anywhere.
The naysayers say “we can’t cut spending; we can’t prioritize; we have to raise taxes.”
I drew a line in the sand and said, “Absolutely not. We’re going to live within our means just like families, just like businesses, just like everybody else.”
It wasn’t easy. I set a record for vetoes in my State. Vetoed billions of dollars of tax and spending increases. Had the first government shutdown in Minnesota’s history. Took one of the longest transit strikes in the country’s history to get public employee benefits under control. And, in the last budget period, I cut spending in real terms for the first time in the history of my state.
The federal government should do the same.
Here are a few things I think you’ll agree with me: We should NOT raise the debt ceiling! We should pass a constitutional amendment to balance the budget! And here’s one I know you’ll agree with: We must repeal Obamacare!
And while we’re at it, one more thing: Let’s throw the ridiculous federal tax code overboard!
Let’s start by requiring, under penalty of perjury, every member of Congress to do their own tax returns without the help of a tax preparer, accountant or lawyer. Let them experience firsthand the moronic, burdensome and intimidating beast that our tax system has become.
Here’s another commonsense principle from the heartland that President Obama clearly still needs to learn. And it’s this: People spend money differently – when it’s their own money.
Now, maybe you’ve got time in your busy life to read white papers, go to seminars, stay up all night and watch cable TV or read journals about public policy. I hope you do — they’re really valuable.
But if you don’t, here’s all you really need to know about government reform. On a given weekend, go to two weddings. Go to one where there’s an open bar where the drinks are supposedly free. Then, go to another wedding with a cash bar where people pay for their own drinks. You’ll see very, very different behaviors.
Now, I said this on Wall Street not long ago and somebody said, “Well, who the heck has a cash bar anymore?” That question right there from a Wall Streeter tells you about all you need to know, doesn’t it?
If you have a system where people get to consume stuff, without any of their own skin in the game or responsibility, and the bill magically goes somewhere else — that’s a system that is doomed to fail.
Unfortunately, that describes most of our government. So whether it’s education, health care, housing, or just about anything else, we need to put people in charge, give them the power to make their own decisions, not government.
And the best thing we can do to empower people is to make sure they have a good job. That means always remembering this next commonsense principle: The private sector, not government, is the answer to job creation. We shouldn’t be looking to Washington D.C. for how to create jobs.
We should be asking the people who actually provide the jobs!! When you do, they give you some pretty clear answers. They say: “Reduce my costs and get government off my back”.
It isn’t that hard.
By the way, in Minnesota our unemployment rate, as I left the governorship, was significantly below the national average. And since the crash, we’ve been helping lead the nation towards recovery.
Ladies and gentlemen, America needs job growth, not government growth!
Now, you may have learned this next principle on a playground, in sports, at work, or maybe even in a back alley. But no matter where you learned it, it’s always true.
Bullies respect strength, not weakness. So when the United States of America projects its national security interests here and around the world, we need to do it with strength! We need to make sure that there is no equivocation, no uncertainty, no daylight between us and our allies around the world.
The current administration doesn’t seem to understand this principle. We undermine Israel, the U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic, and Colombia, among other friends. Meanwhile, we appease Iran, Russia, and adversaries in the Middle East, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mr. President, with bullies, might makes right. Strength — makes them submit. Get tough on our enemies — not on our friends. And, Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country.
The bullies, terrorists and tyrants of the world have lots to apologize for. America does not.
My friends, none of this is going to be easy. If prosperity were easy, everybody around the world would be prosperous. If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. And, if security were easy, everybody around the world would be secure.
They’re not. It takes an extraordinary effort. It takes extraordinary commitment. It takes extraordinary strength to stand up to those who oppose these principles. But we can do it.
Valley Forge wasn’t easy. Settling the West wasn’t easy. Winning World War II wasn’t easy.
Going to the moon wasn’t easy. This ain’t about easy.
We’ve had enough of the hype and speeches filled with rhetoric that soars – but takes us in the wrong direction. This is about rolling up our sleeves, plowing forward, standing tall, and getting the job done.
This is the United States of America. We are the American people. We have seen difficulties before, and we always overcome. We can and we will do it again.
We will rise up, as our forefathers did, with the assurance of our time-tested conservative values, the wisdom of the American people, and the courage of our convictions.
Thank you. God bless you. And God Bless the United States of America!