"The Perils of Pawlenty" (Or, who was that woman?)
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In our last visit to the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," we learned that another hand-wringing anarchist had joined Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman in ranting against the "gasoline-pouring" Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who had the nerve to commission a report showing how much it was costing his state to support the estimated 85,000 illegals living there.

Well, Coleman (e-mail him) is back, and he again demonstrates just how little he knows about the subject of immigration. But this time (Ah-ha! The plot thickens) he adds to the mix the possibility of a (gasp!) conspiracy that includes a 'mystery woman from Maryland': "Wonder what's behind the sudden debate over "illegal" immigrants? Listen to a retired accountant from Lake Crystal, Minn., named Pat Peoples. It turns out the demagoguery is not so sudden. It has been in the works for months." [Demagoguery's focus intends to blur important issues, December 27, 2005 ](Earth to Coleman: This "debate" has been going on for decades and without the help of individuals like your imaginary Mata Hari from Maryland.)

Coleman writes that last February "a mystery woman" organized a focus group in Mankato to discuss political issues facing residents of Minnesota, and accountant Peoples took exception to the immigration issue being introduced:

"There was no reason for this to be brought up" . . . "I think someone was trying to find an issue that will antagonize people and get them riled up so they come out and vote, without offering a solution." ("No reason" not to bring up an issue that's costing taxpayers more each year? Am I alone in being amused by the fact that somebody who earns a living keeping track of money thinks the rest of us shouldn't be just a little testy knowing our wallets are systematically being raided 24-7 in order to support illegal aliens?) "Peoples [says Coleman] has perfectly described how demagoguery works: Exaggerate a problem; exploit the manufactured resentment at the polls; offer no solutions to address a problem without creating an even larger one."

And Coleman has perfectly described how lousy journalism works: Write about a subject without fully understanding it; snow your readers into thinking you're an expert on the issue; smugly go through each day believing that your job can never be done by a foreigner willing to work for far less than you.

(To see Gov. Pawlenty's reaction to the flak he's been taking for the report, click here.)

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