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Pawlenty Echoes Obama in New Ad

January 25, 2011

This week, former Minnesota Governor and obvious GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty debuted a glitzy new ad to promote his new book and his upcoming candidacy. As it turns out, Pawlenty's timing in releasing his big-budget video just hours before the President's 2011 speech to Congress is altogether fitting. After all, Pawlenty's words sound an awful an lot like Barack Obama's last State of the Union address.

Hoping to overcome the inevitable comparisons to the weak-willed and feeble-minded Fredo of The Godfather films, the man who calls himself T-Paw is at the center of an on-screen, action epic about America's past and future. And to be sure, Pawlenty exceeded his previous rhetorical highs achieved while praising "my red-hot smoking wife":

If prosperity was easy, everybody around the world would be prosperous. If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. If security were easy, everybody around the world would be secure.
They are not.
None of this is gonna be easy.
But this is the United States of America.
It takes extraordinary effort. It takes extraordinary commitment. It takes extraordinary strength.
Valley Forge wasn't easy. Going to the moon wasn't easy. Settling the West wasn't easy.
We are the American people. And we have seen difficulties before. And we always overcome it.
This is about rolling up our sleeves. Me and you are gonna have some differences. But as Americans, putting our heads down and getting it done.

If that refrain sounds familiar, it should. Because last year, Barack Obama said pretty much the same thing.

In his 2010 State of the Union address, the man T-Paw would replace offered a more elegant version of the same theme. On January 27, 2010 President Obama told the joint session of Congress that America's was a history of facing - and overcoming - grave challenges:

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable -- that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.
Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call...
The only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.

As it turns out, Obama was only building on the rhetorical platform he erected during his inaugural address two years ago:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn.

In Tim Pawlenty's defense, the "none of this is gonna be easy" theme is hardly a new one in American oratory. (After all, George W. Bush repeatedly warned that his was "hard work.") Better still, T-Paw didn't literally plagiarize Obama's text, as Sarah Palin-backed Idaho Congressional candidate Vaughn Ward did last year. And speaking of Sarah Palin, Pawlenty didn't parrot her belief that only divine intervention could save the United States:

"And then I think kind of tougher to, kind of tougher to put our arms around but, allowing America's spirit to rise again by not being afraid, not being afraid to kind of go back to some of our roots as a god fearing nation where we're not afraid to say, especially in times of potential trouble in the future here, we're not afraid to say, you know, we don't have all the answers as fallible men and women so it would be wise of us to start seeking some divine intervention again in this country, so that we can be safe and secure and prosperous again."

No, Tim Pawlenty is a man of action and soaring oratory. As he told an audience last February, conservatives should look to the troubled family of Tiger Woods for guidance:

"Not from Tiger, but from his wife. So, she said, 'I've had enough.' She said, 'No more.' I think we should take a page out of her playbook and take a nine iron and smash the window out of big government in this country."

That Pawlenty effort may have been a swing and a miss. But as Barack Obama could have told him, " None of this is gonna be easy."


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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