The thing that came through when KARE11 interviewed David Schultz about the just-concluded Franken-McFadden debate was how disinterested Prof. Schultz seemed in the right policies. That’s perhaps a bit harsh but that’s what I took from the interview. Here’s what Prof. Schultz said that got me thinking:

In many ways, the debate went about exactly the way both sides wanted it to go.

Dr. Schultz, was it Sen. Franken’s goal to get his butt kicked in that debate? That isn’t what was reported but that’s what happened.

One potential game-changing moment came when Franken and McFadden debated the railcar shortage, which is a huge issue in northern and rural Minnesota, Franken said that he’d talked with the Surface Transportation Board since getting to DC and that he’d worked with David Vitter of Louisiana on making it cheaper to file a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board. When it was McFadden’s turn, he criticized Franken. Here’s what he said:

Al, with all due respect, your lack of an energy policy and the lack of an energy policy from President Obama has caused the rail car shortage. There’s not been one pipeline built. You haven’t approved any pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline has been under the review process for 6 years. That is crazy. That is too long. Pipelines are proven to be the most effective, the most efficient, the most environmentally sensitive way to transport oil. Until you start passing pipelines, we’ll have a railcar shortage. I know how to fix this economy. I know how to get us back on the road to growth and prosperity and you are putting Band-Aids as opposed to going to root causes. We need pipelines in this country. I want everyone in this room and in this state I am for pipelines. I will get them built.

Sen. Franken sounded like a typical DC politician who wanted to sound like he was doing something without really fixing anything. Sen. Franken also sounded like a politician who didn’t want to cross his special interest allies.

By comparison, McFadden sounded like a person not beholden to special interests. He also sounded like a solutions-oriented leader intent on making Minnesotans’ lives better.

Sen. Franken sounded like a politician who wanted to make it easier to file complaints. That won’t get the farmers’ grain to market or the miners’ ore to the shipping port. Schultz apparently thinks it’s more important to evaluate how politicians look rather than opine on whether that politician’s policies will solve problems or make Minnesotans’ lives better.

Admittedly, that’s a harsh indictment of Prof. Schultz. This isn’t about being gentle. It’s about getting people’s priorities right. That includes high profile professors’ priorities, too.

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