Tim Pawlenty trades in his blue jeans (Photo by Gage Skidmore, August 12, 2011) (www.flickr.com).
by Aaron Klemz
Sep 20, 2012, 4:52 PM

Tim Pawlenty takes the money

The Financial Services Roundtable, one of the most powerful Wall Street lobbying groups, announced Thursday that former Governor Tim Pawlenty will be its new President and CEO. After a short-lived run for President and after being spurned a second time for the Vice Presidential spot on the Republican ticket, Pawlenty will cash in his new national influence to the tune of around $1.8 million per year. He also announced, through spokester Brian McClung, that he will not run for political office in 2014. This removes one of the more formidable potential opponents for Sen. Al Franken.

Pawlenty’s blue collar image is exactly what the Financial Services Roundtable craves as they attempt to rehabilitate Wall Street’s image. Anger against big finance is a bipartisan affair, with widespread anger at the financial industry and big banks for the Great Recession. It’s gotten so bad that even Wall Street marketing executives know it. A March 2012 survey of financial services industry marketing executives found the following beliefs are widely held, even among Wall Street insiders:

  • Increased regulation of financial services will help restore trust (74%).
  • Wall Street pay will continue to batter the industry’s reputation (81%).
  • The industry’s collective PR effort was either average or failing (57%).
  • People in the financial services industry invite negative public perception by their actions or inactions (96%)

So, Tim Pawlenty, the Sam’s Club Republican hockey playing favorite son of a meatpacking town is the obvious choice! If you are not already convinced that he’s up to the task, check out his first attempt to show how Wall Street is all about helping the middle class:

Pawlenty emphasized his working-class roots during his presidential campaign, and said representing Wall Street is another way for him to help the middle class and people who are struggling to find work.

“If you ask what are those things that you can do to make it more likely that jobs are going to grow, the answer is we need more businesses starting and growing,” he said. “These financial institutions are the fuel that goes into that engine.”

Even the most cynical observer of American politics has to see the politics of class at play here. Pawlenty’s working class roots are nothing more than a commodity to be purchased by the most powerful financial firms as a public relations exercise. Whether it’s Scott Brown’s beat up pickup truck or Tim Pawlenty’s hunting jacket, the politicians who play at working class identity in the service of plutocratic interests are nothing more than glorified gofers, caddies on the bag for Wall Street.

It’s a fitting legacy for a politician who’s always been willing to sacrifice the people of Minnesota for his own ambitions.

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