Rich, for whatever it’s worth I think Pawlenty would be a better general-election candidate, and would likely win a head-to-head primary battle against, almost any of the not-running Republicans you pine for in your column. (Jeb Bush is the one possible exception, and I’m not convinced he would beat Pawlenty on either measure; just unsure how it would play out.) You mention two guys who have never been executives, one who has demonstrated appeal only to evangelicals, and one who has a variety of problems with base Republicans and is as vulnerable to the boring charge as Pawlenty.
And while I like Ryan as much as the next conservative, I’m not sure what he’d bring to the ticket as veep. If the nominee is running on the Ryan budget or something similar to it, he’ll have to be able to defend it himself: having Ryan on the ticket won’t be a substitute. If he’s not running on such a plan, it’ll be because he thinks it’s a liability, and therefore won’t want to remind voters of it by running with Ryan. Either way, Ryan doesn’t deliver Wisconsin. He might have trouble passing the heartbeat-away test because of his lack of executive and foreign-policy experience. If he really wants to be on the ticket, he ought to run for president.