Pawlenty: GOP Nominee by Default?

Written by David Frum on Tuesday March 8, 2011

Pawlenty would be a fine president. Yet, I've never met anyone enthusiastic about him. Can he reach the presidency with everyone saying, "He's fine, he'll do"?

Jonathan Chait reasons his way to Pawlenty as the most plausible GOP nominee for 2012.

Chait is applying the Sherlock Holmes methods: "Eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, however implausible, must be the truth."

I've reasoned the same way about Pawlenty, as recently as over dinner last night with a group of close political watchers. And yet ... predicting Pawlenty feels like reaching the wrong answer on a math exam. You do the calculation and you arrive at the answer, Pawlenty. You think: that can't be right. You check the formulas. Yes, you have written them down correctly. You repeat the calculation. Same answer. And it still does not feel right.

Pawlenty was a fine governor, and I'm sure he would be a fine president. Yet I have never met anybody who is enthusiastic about him, and I've met quite a few of the people who work for him. (I've never met Mrs Pawlenty, but I assume she's enthusiastic about the governor. Certainly the governor is enthusiastic about Mrs. Pawlenty.)

Can you reach the presidency with all around you saying, "He's fine, he'll do"?

I suppose you could say that a similar line of argument worked for John Kerry in 2004. But that's not exactly an inspiring precedent.