Jon Stewart takes on Tim Pawlenty and "tyranny" talk

Categories: T-Paw
Jon Stewart in full flight.
Jon Stewart said last night on "The Daily Show" that he wanted to "move past Tucson" in his interview with Tim Pawlenty and talk about political rhetoric in general.

Why, he asked Pawlenty, do Republicans treat Barack Obama as though he is something fundamentally different?

Why accuse him of marching the country toward tyranny, when his predecessor vastly expanded executive powers and government intrusion into people's lives?

Here's some of the exchange:

STEWART: "This administration doesn't appear fundamentally different than Bush, but the panic and the reaction that is has set off does seem fundamentally different."

PAWLENTY: "Is it a whole different level of vitriol different from George W. Bush?"

STEWART: "Yes, I would say there's a whole political movement based upon that, that has come out of this, that is based in a revolution fetish to some extent."

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Pawlenty picked up the theme he sounded over and over the day before in interviews, trying not to knock Sarah Palin while at the same time keeping her vitriolic rhetoric at arm's length.

PAWLENTY: "Just because you can do something, you can say something, doesn't mean you should. We all have a responsibility. If you've got rights and privileges, exercise them responsibly. Be fair. Be accurate. An informed citizenry is the key to democracy, and you've got to have accurate good information to make good decisions. All of us, setting aside Arizona, right and left, could benefit from a more informed debate."
Pawlenty: "Just because you can say it, doesn't mean that you should."
Then Pawlenty adroitly threw Stewart a curve ball, teasing him for his habit of littering his monologues with F-bombs: "When you were throwing the effenheimer around here earlier that really contributed to it."

"The effenheimer?" Stewart laughed. "John Jacob Effenheimer Schmidt?"

"I thought that raised the debate up," Pawlenty deadpanned.

It was one of the few funny bits of the evening. Then, back to tyranny.

STEWART: "Why is the right so fearful of tyranny now, when George Bush expanded executive powers so greatly. No Child Left Behind. Honestly, put yourself in the position. Barack Obama [rather than Bush] comes out and announces No Child Left Behind, an enormous federal mandate for pubic schools. You supported it under Bush. Would you disagree with that if Barack Obama had suggested that, there would be, Glenn Beck would have pictures of Stalin behind him, giant. He would be leaning in and saying, "We have brought upon us the tragedy! They want our children!'"

Pawlenty smiles at the vision.

STEWART: "Is this a cynical attempt to whip up a voting block, or do people really believe there has been a fundamental change in our government towards tyranny and socialism?"

PAWLENTY: "Let's step back. I'm the governor of the state where the Republican National Convention was held in 2008. We had to put up an almost semi-military zone because protesters, mostly on the left, were yelling, screaming, in some ways creating a security threat and physical threat, not just to the convention to passersby alike."

STEWART: "No question."

PAWLENTY: "So this isn't limited to, you know, to one side or the other."

Where was the outrage when Bush was president?
But that doesn't address the issue of tyranny rhetoric, Stewart says.
STEWART: If the defense is, they've got people who do it too, that doesn't appear to me to be much of a defense. And the other thing is, I don't think you can conflate 18-year-olds who've written lawyer's names on their arms, running around with bandanas, with Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, with the leaders of the Republican Party. I think that is a cop out. I don't think that is fair.

"Fundamentally, does the Republican Party believe that we are as close to tyranny and socialism as the tone of their rhetoric would insinuate?"

Pawlenty stops tap dancing around the issue and makes his case.

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