The Strib's Mitch Anderson published Paulsen is hard at work prepping for new job on Capitol Hill more than a week ago.
We learn that Rep. Erik Paulsen continues to see himself as a politeness expert--and praises his predecessor for his supreme civility--and nothing else. When a high-status individual anoints himself politeness expert, the crowd tends to make way, accepting the assertion without skepticism. Eventually praising the pooh-bah for his 'exalted politeness' becomes a way of signalling one is in the know, politically.
At some point reporters owe it to their readers to provide some analysis as to whether Paulsen's paragon of civility claim holds water.
And there's a pretty obvious way one might assess a politician's civility: Look for people who strongly oppose the politician's ideology and then ask them how they feel they get treated by the VIP.
One possibility: If the Star Tribune one day decides not to act as Erik Paulsen's stenographer, it would make sense for Mitch Anderson to contact me, asking 'Rep. Erik Paulsen considers himself a great exemplar of civility. Do you share his assessment? Why?'
Absolutely not--Erik Paulsen is among the least civil politicians I have ever met.
I doubt any person addressed more inquiries to Erik Paulsen, during the campaign [with Paulsen for Congress staffers carbon-copied almost every time]. I asked him about his positions on issues, I asked questions about his biography, I asked him if he represented me in the state legislature. My inquiries were entirely civil and polite; Paulsen refused to respond, ever--and instructed his staffers to cold-shoulder me too.
So on my civility-assessment scale, I'd award Erik Paulsen a zero.
Also in Anderson's article:
As for the big issues awaiting the new Congress, such as the proposed auto bailout and a second, transportation-heavy stimulus package, Paulsen is taking a cautious approach: "From my perspective, I'd just want to see Congress have hearings on all the different proposals that are out there. I can't tell you yes or no on these things yet."
Mitch Anderson commits a serious journalistic oversight: He has Paulsen speculating vaguely about two proposed big-ticket congressional appropriations. But Paulsen claims to be a supporter of the Balanced Budget Amendment, so Paulsen claims he wants federal borrowing to be prohibited by the US Constitution, barring World War Three. So a serious journalist should have requested Paulsen's reassurance: 'As a supporter of the Balanced Budget Amendment, you will oppose any proposed auto bailout or economic stimulus package not paid for by this fiscal year's tax revenues, right?'
If Paulsen has already concluded that his central political/economic belief must be jettisoned, he ought to have the courage to say so out loud.