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.