Why not Pawlenty?
After a third-place finish at the Ames Straw Poll last weekend, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the running for the GOP nomination for president of the United States. Why did it end before it really got started?
Pawlenty's accomplishments as governor should have been apparent to nearby Iowans. Governors in general, having had the experience of running the administration of a state, often make great presidents. Pawlenty was becoming well-known in the press and was often called on to speak as an expert in the media on a wide range of issues. And yet he never got enough traction to make the run he wanted to make at the presidency.
Perhaps a future as a vice-presidential candidate awaits the Minnesotan. But in the meantime, it's worthwhile to explore why he never did go anywhere in the race despite his record.
First, he's a fairly unflappable guy. He doesn't normally lose his cool, and he exhibits an in-control demeanor. This sounds like the type of person we'd want in charge of America's nuclear arsenal, her trade agreements, her domestic policy. Pawlenty never came off as angry at a time when there is plenty of anger in the public: over bailouts, over taxes, over wars, over the deficit. Perhaps he just couldn't attract a frustrated voter without appearing frustrated himself. This seems like more of a flaw with voters seeking someone who is more prone to losing their cool than a flaw of Pawlenty's.
Second, he was quickly branded by the media -- both liberal and conservative -- as "boring." It's hard to say if it was the media itself that was bored or the viewers, but unfair or not, that label was echoed through the chamber that is today's 24/7 media, and it eventually stuck. It reminds one of the "wimp" label applied to President George H.W. Bush during the campaign. It still seems an unfortunate and unfair statement -- it's unthinkable that a World War II Navy pilot and former director of central intelligence could actually be a "wimp."
Not to begrudge anyone else's presidential preference, but in a general way, I wouldn't mind a "boring" president and "boring" Congress right about now. With the absolute turmoil in Washington we've had in the last decade or two, "boring" would be just fine. I think we all have at least some level of anger toward Washington, and we want to elect people who reflect and embody that anger, but then we act surprised when all we get out of Washington is anger and gridlock. That's on us.
I'm not sure what exactly it says about current presidential politics that Tim Pawlenty was the first one to head for the exit sign. But I am sure it's not good. He was a good candidate who deserved to be heard.
The Pioneer Journal editorial represents the collective voice of the paper's editorial board. Today's editorial was written by Steve Schulz, editor and publisher.