Friday, September 21, 2012

K Street T-Paw

So Tim Pawlenty is going to Washington after all. As the chief lobbyist for the financial services industry, no less:

The Financial Services Roundtable announced Thursday that Pawlenty will become its new president and chief executive officer on November 1. Pawlenty adviser Brian McClung told The Associated Press that Pawlenty ruled out the races as he prepared to take the job heading the Wall Street lobbying group.

"With this new position, Governor Pawlenty is taking off the table running for U.S. Senate or governor in 2014," McClung said in an email. Pawlenty did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

What the means for Minnesota is a subject we'll return to at another time. What it means right now is more interesting, I think. If you believe the breathless reportage we've seen in recent weeks about the Romney campaign, you might assume that Pawlenty's decision is an example of a rat fleeing a sinking ship. T-Paw, as you'll recall, is one of the chief honchos in the Romney campaign and has been one of its most visible surrogates for the better part of a year now. So if you assume that Barack Obama is going to win and that the Democrats are going to, at a minimum, retain the Senate, it's passing strange that T-Paw would be the guy the money men would pick as their public face.

Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post tries to suss the larger meaning out:

The downsides seem clearer than the upsides. If Romney wins, then Pawlenty, a close Romney friend who co-chaired the Republican candidate’s presidential campaign and was seriously considered for the veep slot, will have all the access he could want. But if Obama is reelected, Pawlenty isn’t likely to be the most appealing messenger to the Democrats’ administration.

But to put it in market lingo, the Financial Service Roundtable, observers say, is pricing that in. The past four years have made it clear that Democrats aren’t likely to sympathize with the Financial Services Roundtable, regardless of what happens on Election Day. But Congressional Republicans might.
I actually take it as a sign that the big money boys aren't so sure that Obama is going to win. If they thought Obama was going to win, it would have made a lot more sense to hire someone like Jennifer Granholm, the Democrat who was governor of Michigan at the same time T-Paw was at the helm here. And let's be honest; Granholm is whole lot easier on the eyes than T-Paw:
Yeah, I was on the Dating Game
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful

But that didn't happen, now did it? No matter what you think of Wall Street generally, and I don't think much of it, the people who run the various firms there aren't stupid. They understand the value of having the right people in Washington to represent their interests, especially since they operate in one of the most heavily regulated sectors of the economy.

Sending T-Paw as your messenger also sends a message about what they expect to see, and whom they expect to deal with, in Washington for the next few years.If you choose a public face that looks like Tim Pawlenty, there has to be a reason for it. Do you agree?


First Ringer said...

As interesting as the choice is, the timing is what fascinates me. We're 45 days away from the election - is that too long to wait to select a new chair? Perhaps. But working within the financial services field, the attitude has largely been "wait and see" for all financial decisions.

Even assuming the thesis that the decision reflects wanting better relations with (an expected) Republican Congress, why T-Paw? It's not that he has deep DC ties. You'd think if that was the strategy, they'd pick a retired rep or senator.

Brian said...

I think your analysis of what motivates FSR is as good as anything I could come up with, but I also question the timing, particularly from Pawlenty's end.

This is the kind of job where if you want to hire someone in particular and they ask you to put it off 6 weeks, you let them. Or, you come to an agreement but keep the agreement private until that time.

And it might not even be a rat leaving the ship (though it certainly could be that) as much as an F-U to Romney and the party that passed him up for the VP slot twice.

It seems to me that either he really doesn't expect Romney to win, or that he has no expectation of a future in the administration even if he does. This doesn't strike me as an amicable parting, either way.

Gino said...

he will profit more (and sooner) as a lobbyist than he will as a member of the admin.

maybe, he just decided to give the whole 'public service' thing the bird, and take care of him and his own.

i can sooo see that as being far more morally legit than policy wonking.