A Placebo Candidate

Pareene sizes up Pawlenty's chances:

Pawlenty is the first mostly serious candidate to officially announce (sorry, Newt) but it's still a long-shot run. If Pawlenty had been McCain's running mate in 2008, well, McCain might not have lost the voters turned off by Sarah Palin's transparent awfulness. But he'd also be a real 2012 front-runner, instead of a weird simulacrum of one -- a man acting like Romney's only real challenger despite being basically indistinguishable from the former Massachusetts governor, only without the cash advantage.

R.M. at DiA puts his finger on Pawlenty's appeal:

If Mr Pawlenty's conservative-for-all-seasons strategy is successful, he could come to be seen as a combination of his rivalsRomney, but not so slippery; Huckabee, but not so evangelical; Gingrich but not so aggressive; Daniels, but not so bookish; Palin, but not so scary. He's no one's perfect candidate, but he's no one's nightmare. He's harmless, waiting for voters to find whatever value they will in him, and then be satisfied enough to give him their vote. A placebo.

And one that I simply cannot imagine winning really enthusiastic support from the base or beating Barack Obama.