From the midweek Morning Jolt . . .
The Only Thing That Stopped the Pawlenty Momentum Was Tim Pawlenty
Poor Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty-mania kicks in, roughly two months after he leaves the race.
First, from Jonah: “Looking back on the events of 2011, who do you think has more regrets for his bad decisions, Hosni Mubarak or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty? . . . All Pawlenty did was blow his entirely plausible shot at the presidency. Let’s hop into the way-back machine. Pawlenty’s plan was to be the alternative to Mitt Romney. He launched a huge political operation, perhaps to scare off other candidates, which required an equally huge fundraising effort to sustain it. In order to justify the money he was asking of donors, he had to do well in the Iowa straw poll in August. He came in third to Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul. Pawlenty quit the race the next day. Tactically, Pawlenty’s mistakes are too numerous to count. But strategically, Pawlenty had the right idea: Be the most electable candidate to the right of Romney.”. . . I don’t think we can argue that he really didn’t get a chance to shine, or enough time in the debates, or that somehow Republicans didn’t take a good enough look at him.
We scoff at Romney’s ironclad twenty-something percent in primary polls, but you notice that to the remaining seventy to eighty percent, there is no real consensus on who the alternative to Romney ought to be. Even when you go down the list of alternatives who didn’t run — Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie — the anti-Mitt crowd splits.
I realize blogging means you get a skewed perspective of the political world from your feedback. The folks who write in aren’t representative of the public as a whole or Republicans as a whole or even necessarily of NRO readers as a whole. They’re the ones who feel most motivated to write in and
tell me how much I stinkhelpfully suggest flaws in my thinking. So I preface this observation with the recognition that perhaps I end up with an incomplete view of the thinking of the majority of Republican primary voters. But right now, the Anybody But Mitt crowd to me looks like a mix of Perry fans who can’t believe any conservative could seriously support those jokers Cain and Bachmann, Cain fans who can’t believe anybody could back that loser Perry and that loon Bachmann, Bachmann fans who can’t believe everybody’s jumped off the bandwagon of the one true conservative fighter, Newt fans who can’t believe everybody makes such a big deal of his marital difficulties, and so on. I’m not sure anybody has much of a second choice right now, much less a potential consensus choice. I exaggerate slightly, but right now, it doesn’t seem like many primary voters see many of the options as “pretty good.” The field is simply “their guy” versus a bunch of laughingstocks who deserve to be booed off the stage.
My theory is that in the On Demand Era, with movies and television shows available on demand, news sites updated 24-7, our iPods and MP3 players playing only the music we want, our Facebook pages giving us just the updates from the particular friends we want, etc., a certain segment of the public has now become conditioned to expect the On Demand candidate. They want someone who holds their position on Obamacare AND illegal immigration AND climate change AND TARP AND abortion AND every other significant issue, and when a potential Republican president deviates from it, they toss them into the “reject” pile.