The governor's annual deer-and-publicity-hunting excursion over the weekend seems to have turned into a bit of a PR nightmare. It turns out that, unlike most years, the governor actually shot a deer this time, according to the Star Tribune. The bad news is that he didn't kill it, and the seriously wounded buck bounded off into the forest.
But rather than help look for the suffering animal, which is every hunter's ethical responsibility, Pawlenty delegated the job to others because he had to fly off to a Republican Party fundraiser in Iowa.
We understand; the man has commitments. But this can't be the story he was hoping for. Despite a two-day search by the hunting party, the deer was never found. "It was extremely frustrating," the landowner Warren Sparby was quoted as saying. "We do know he shot it, because it was bleeding profusely. We combed and combed and combed, but still couldn't find it. ... We gave it the best shot we could."
It's an ugly little story, but we wonder too if it isn't also a metaphor. The deer is Minnesota, maybe, and the bullet is the state's ongoing budget crisis, which threatens to bring down the state. But rather than search for a long-range answer to Minnesota's fiscal woes, Pawlenty offers only a one-shot solution for this year, leaving the hard work for someone else while he skips out of the governor's job to run for president.
Or maybe the scampering deer represents Pawlenty "running" for the presidency. He takes a shot at higher office but can't quite get it in his sights. OK, it's a stretch, but it's a fun game to play.
In any case, if Pawlenty ever makes a serious run for the presidency, he'd better find a better advance team to prevent these kinds of gaffes. Perhaps next time they can strategically plant a sniper nearby to make sure the candidate-to-be gets his photo op.