WOULD THE REAL ARNE CARLSON STEP FORWARD?
It's an iron-clad electoral rule: the politicians you hate the most aren't up for reelection.
Take the case of Governor Arne Carlson: he seems incapable of articulating any policy whatsoever (unless you consider gutting public education or fussing about editorial cartoons policy). It got us wondering: If he does so little--in public view, anyway--why do some people hate him so much? And what are the alternatives? Surely, in a state like ours, there is some other Arne Carlson who could do a better job of doing nothing. We started making phone calls and came up with a limited slate of Arne Carlsons, all of whom seem eminently qualified for the top spot in St. Paul:
Name: Arne Carlson
Retired "from the meat industry"
The City Pages Interview:
CP: Hello. Are you related to the governor?
CP: Do you get a lot of calls for him?
AC: Just about three I think, over the time. One to wish me a happy birthday.
CP: How would you evaluate his work so far this term?
AC: Oh, I think he's done well.
CP: What do you think he's done well?
AC: Oh, just overall. [long pause] I guess I can't say anything more than that.
CP: Has he made any mistakes?
AC: I can't think of any.
CP: Do you have any political ambition?
CP: So you wouldn't run for governor?
CP: You wouldn't run against Arne Carlson?
CP: How much attention do you pay to politics?
AC: Not much.
CP: So it's not a big part of your life?
AC: Nope. [long pause] I vote both parties.
CP: So you'd call yourself an independent?
AC: I would.
CP: What do you think the strengths of the state are?
AC: [very long pause]...[inaudible]
CP: Okay. Thanks for your time.
Political Analysis: This Arne Carlson conducts himself in a style that could be characterized as "minimalist sound-bite." Our conversation was fraught with barren pauses and terse affirmative/negative responses to policy questions. Could he fill in for Minnesota's governor? Nothing's impossible. The fact that his more complex analysis was mumbled and unintelligible is promising.
Name: Arne Carlson
The City Pages interview:
CP: We're selecting an alternative draft for governor, and we thought of you, for obvious reasons.
AC: Now, are you thinking that I'm Arne Carlson?
CP: Not at all. I'm thinking that you might be a decent alternative to Arne Carlson.
AC: I'm not interested in being a candidate for anything.
CP: I see. Well, in that case, how would you evaluate the governor's performance so far in this term?
AC: I'm more pleased than displeased. I think he's represented a nonpolitical-not-too-far-left-not-too-far-right. I'm pro-choice. He hasn't taken a strong stand on
that one way or another.
CP: Has he done anything poorly, do you think?
AC: Oh, well, I'm not sure about his public relations. Without getting too specific.
CP: Suppose you were governor. What would your goals be?
AC: I'm not really interested in pursuing this.
Political Analysis: Well, for someone who seems to dislike Cyndi Brucato (without getting too specific) this Arne sure knows how to obfuscate. "I'm not really interested in pursuing this"? Spoken like a pro. This man is ripe for political office. Later in our conversation he summed up the state's problems succinctly: "We've got a big geographic state and a small population to take care of it." A little brushing up with the hated Brucato and this guy could be a shoe-in.
Name: Arne Carlson
The City Pages Interview:
CP: Hi. Is Arne there?
Woman: Uh, you must want the governor, huh?
CP: No, huh uh, I don't. You get a lot of calls for the governor?
CP: I want the other Arne Carlson.
Woman: Well, he's dead.
Political Analysis: Is Minnesota ready for a dead governor? True, we buried Rudy Perpich with pomp and circumstance, and a score of other former governors have died. But never has a dead man actually served as governor. Nevertheless, Minnesota prides itself on its liberal, inclusive reputation. Putting a dead man in the governor's office would be a true test of whether there's any meat on the bones of that reputation. Then again, this Carlson might be better suited for the lieutenant governorship. Carlson & Carlson. Has a nice ring. *
Three times a year, the on-air hosts at Minnesota Public Radio break from reading news copy and sing for their supper. As the deadline approached to meet this season's fund-raising goal of $499,000, KNOW's broadcast talent extemporized at an impressively feverish pitch, from the koans of Gary Eichten to the the manic free association of pledging Zeus Dan Olson. We present the following lightly edited transcripts. Membership might not be free, but the verse is.
We've got our fingers and toes crossed
Makes it a little hard to walk
We have everything we can crossed save for our eyes
Writing isn't very easy either, I can tell you that
We can make it by nine o'clock tonight
--Kate Smith & Bob Potter
Do we have the gong handy?
Can we get that ready to go?
A lot of people I know, last fall, were very insistent
They weren't going to give any money
They weren't going to make any contribution
Until we gave them just a flavoring of that treasured midday gong
Ah, watch those phones light up now.
Bob is actually levitating right here in the chair
Listen to those phone rings
They love the gong
We love the gong
We're One with the gong.
Look North, you'll see those storm clouds brewing
Some scattered thunderstorms coming our way
Looks like they may be pretty strong
The temperature is rising, it's now up to 95 degrees
Ten callers on the line right now
It's getting hot, we're rolling up our sleeves in the studio
Asking you to call 1-800-227-2811
In a way, Minnesota Public Radio is an oasis
The cool water in the hot desert of media in America
We need 10 callers, 12 callers, 15 callers
We need a tornado of calls
We need a tidal wave of calls
We need a cyclone of calls
A tsunami of calls
Six people on the line
We need more than that
--John Rabe & Mike Edgerly
Here in this airless studio
It's air conditioned
But where you are at there's a prairie fire burning
New pledge totals, new numbers coming by
It's nail-biting time, the prairie fire that you started
Ten of you calling on the line
Responding to the challenge,
Your friends and neighbors
And now you--sitting on the fence
Listening to the service
Not paying for it
Our volunteers are standing by
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