Saturday, January 15, 2011

Uriah Heep

That’s who I thought of when I read Kevin Diaz’s puff piece on Tim Pawlenty.

And I don’t mean Uriah Heep the cult rock band.

I was thinking of Charles Dickens’ Uriah Heep, the evil schemer in the novel David Copperfield. This is Heep describing himself:

"I am well aware that I am the umblest person going [...] My mother is likewise a very umble person." Everything, for Uriah Heep, is "umble" (a.k.a. humble).

But you see, Uriah Heep is really just a self-absorbed plotter who tries to steal the law business of his boss, Mr. Wickfield, and Wickfield’s daughter, too! And he would have succeeded, too, except for the intervention of Mr. Micawber. Heep cannot imagine that Mr. Micawber would betray him, since Heep hired him on; it is against Micawber’s financial interest to turn on Heep. But he does, because Micawber is an empathetic man.

But back to the Diaz piece for a moment; here’s the lede:

Coming in the midst of a nationwide call for civility in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's moderate tone and calm delivery may have given him a fresh purchase on his national ambitions.

Well, he’s umble, all right; anybody will tell you that. He’s always tried to project the nice guy persona. But what the Mr. Micawbers in the room will also tell you is that Pawlenty bears more than a passing resemblance to Uriah Heep. Personal ambition is always Pawlenty’s paramount concern. His stewardship of Minnesota echoes the efforts of Heep to ruin the business of Mr. Wickfield; Heep’s after power, money and the daughter. Pawlenty is after the presidency.

Accounting shifts, a couple of billion in IOUs to the state’s public schools, remaking the state’s budget without regard to the Legislature, making taxes more regressive and cutting higher education, a state trashed, these are all part of the Pawlenty legacy.

It seems a rather steep price to pay for the personal ambitions of one umble man.

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