The Tell: It's Beginning to Look Like McCain-Pawlenty
By Al Giordano
Poker players call it "the tell": that tic or squint in the face that every player supposedly has when he's either bluffing or, conversely with a different "tell," when he thinks he's got a winning hand.
Today, the McCain campaign let down its poker face when it comes to the speculation over who will be the GOP vice presidential nominee. Here's why The Field reads into recent events that McCain will likely choose Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty as his running mate.
Rewind to Saturday: Pawlenty, in swing state Iowa ("tell" number one) stumping for McCain, waves a tire gauge as if a magic wand to mock something Obama said about gasoline conservation from keeping car tires inflated:
Pawlenty a few minutes later pulled a prop out of his pocket. "Barack Obama stood up at a speech recently and said that one of the things that is really important from energy policy from his standpoint is to check the pressure in our tires, so here's a tire gauge and you can go out in the parking lot here and check your tires. Now, that's an interesting thing - - we want you to have good pressure in your tires, you know, it will very mildly add to your fuel efficiency -- but checking the air pressure in your tires is not an energy policy for the United States of America," Pawlenty said. The crowd applauded.
Never mind that this common sense fuel-saving advice also comes from those earth-firsters at the Bush administration's Department of Energy ("keep tires properly inflated and aligned to improve your gasoline mileage by around 3.3%"), that hippie wuss Arnold Schwarzenegger, and from from those tree huggers over at NASCAR, among others: If Obama also says the same thing they strike up the Grand Victrola and start singing that its evidence that he's (code alert) uppity and un-American.
And Pawlenty is said to be the the granola-crunching version of up-and-coming GOP leaders, the one that supposedly bucks the think-tank dogma by saying that global warming exists, or so the press tells us. But by brandishing that tire gauge and ridiculing energy conservation, he's attempting to rebrand himself as an attack dog, putting down the alfalfa juice and swearing he eats only red meat, and only when raw.
But that wasn't "the tell."
"The tell" came today, when McCain campaign manager Rick Davis (he of injecting the word "race" fame) sent out an email to the campaign list and, lo' and behold, they've already got thousands of little tire gauges with Obama's name on them ready to send out to donors:
What does that tell us?
It's "the tell" that the "tire gauge" strategy was pre-planned, not as an afterthought to some spontaneous prop wielded by Tim Pawlenty 48 hours ago, but, rather, that once the plan was in place, the trinkets for donors had to be designed and manufactured, while Pawlenty was sent out there as the messenger.
I have to admit, it's clever.
It sets up Pawlenty to be the young "ideas guy" on the McCain ticket, as if he brings all the brain cells and marbles that you see falling from McCain's ears like so many cans of applesauce in the supermarket aisle.
Tire gauges! How manly and American!
I do have a humble suggestion for Obama when he wants to signal his vice presidential choice (I so rarely offer advice aloud, so listen up): Send him (or her) out there with one of these:
Because - speaking strictly for myself - if some pretty prep school boy wants to pick a fight with me and comes waving a tire gauge, I always bring a tire iron.
Update: James Wolcott reads my view that "it's beginning to look a lot like... Pawlenty" as a prediction. I'm not going that far yet but the siren call of saying anything that causes James to bestow upon us his unparalleled prose is, I admit, one of the pleasures of this gig:
He also shines a deserving light on Nate Silver's analysis over at 538 who, once he's blogged on a subject, I often wonder whether there is anything left for me to say except "me, too."