The 2012 Presidential Race & An Endorsement

I am going to do something a bit unusual, for me. I am going to endorse a candidate for President of the United States, and I'm going to tell you why. I'm not sure it matters much, but maybe my own thinking will help yours.

Conservative punditry seems to be in a state of panic these days, wondering about its field of contenders, "Is this it?" The worrywarts are in the depths of despair, fearing that we don't have a candidate who can beat the uber-cool Barack Obama. I admit to being completely baffled by all this hand-wringing. Let me tell you what electoral vulnerability looks like. It looks like sub-two percent economic growth, $4 gas, and unemployment above 9%. If there was ever a sitting president vulnerable to losing his job, Barack Obama is it.

I think the field presents to us an obvious choice. And it is extremely easy to sort out.

Mitt Romney is in the race. Mitt Romney's problem is that he strikes me and a lot of people as completely phony. He's got great hair. But he is a johnnie-come-lately on the causes important to conservative voters, and he positively endorses causes repellant to conservatives (read: government-run health care).

Newt Gingrich want to be president. But Newt Gingrich is all about... Newt Gingrich, and it shows. He's arrogant enough to fancy himself a Platonic Philosopher-King.

Michelle Bachmann is running. Michelle Bachmann is a lovely and admirable lady, but has exactly one constituency: the Tea Party. One constituency is not going to win the White House.

Rick Santorum is running. Rick Santorum is a man of extraordinary principle and courage, but suffers from what Bono said of him: He has a kind of Tourette's Syndrome; he will always say the most unpopular thing. (Bono went on to actually praise Rick Santorum.) But the reality is that principles must be articulated in persuasive ways, and I'm not convinced that Rick Santorum can be persuasive enough.

Oh, who else? Herman Cain is running. Herman Cain is intriguing, but has never run for anything or held electoral office. We've had three years of the opposite, somebody who has done nothing but run for office and has never run anything. But I don't think we should swing completely to the opposite extreme.

Ron Paul is running. Of course. If you think Barack Obama jeopardizes our standing in the world, Ron Paul would be a catastrophe. And he's one of those rare nutcases who happens to be right about some economic things, just like a broken clock is right twice a day, and his devoted followers take this for signs of sobriety and sanity. They're wrong. He's neither sober nor sane. (His son seems to have a lot going for him, though.)

Sarah Palin may or may not run. I adore Sarah, but I do not believe she can beat Barack Obama, even with his great vulnerabilities. The onslaught of negative press has unjustly damaged her brand, I'm afraid. Nominating her is too big a gamble, and the odds are stacked against her. Given the standing of the current President, that is saying a lot.

Now, unsatisfied with this cast of characters, there are pundits longing to "draft" various candidates, like Chris Christie or Paul Ryan. I would be fine with either man (although Ryan is way more valuable right where he is than in the Oval Office), but I find "drafting" them to be needless, as I will now explain.

The answer is blindingly obvious, staring us right in the face. The Republican nominee should be Governor Tim Pawlenty. And, for whatever little it is worth, I hereby endorse Tim Pawlenty's candidacy for President of the United States.

I knew nothing about the man until fairly recently. You can go check his impressive resume. He governed as a solid conservative in the blue state of Minnesota for eight years. His judicial appointments, I have learned, have been stellar, all but turning the Minnesota courts from very liberal to solidly conservative over the course of his tenure. His economic record is, likewise, stellar.

I know. It's all too good to be true. A solid fiscal conservative always has baggage on the social issues. Right?

Wrong. Indeed, the thing that put me over the edge, making this a no-brainer, is this report from National Review on his pro-life record. That is nothing if not impressive.

The only criticism I can find is that he at one time endorsed the idea of cap and trade with respect to fossil fuels. Okay. Really? That's it? Well, he's clearly changed his mind about that. Going to Iowa last week and telling Iowans that we need to end Federal subsidies for ethanol pretty fairly convinces me that Tim Pawlenty's perspective on carbon emissions is sound enough. (And, no, Mitt Romney changing his mind on abortion is not even remotely comparable.)

Finally, I know many worry about the celebrity "pizzaz" factor. Is he "cool" enough to beat Barack Obama? Well, let me just say a few things. We've had enough time playing "Celebrity President," and I think that's the national mood. Tim Pawlenty does not have to act like a "man of the people," as our current President does, because Tim really is a man of the people. He's the son of a truck driver, for crying out loud, and it doesn't get more salt of the earth than that.

Additionally, and very importantly, he has put together a media team that produces the finest, most inspiring videos and advertisements I've seen. Please go to his website and check them out. No, really. Don't just run your eyes past that sentence. Open a new tab, go to his website and watch the videos. Right now. Then come back.

Okay. You're back? They are REALLY good, aren't they? Told you so.

Finally, when people talk of him as kind of a "dud," I simply don't know what they're talking about. And since you've now watched the videos, neither do you. He's terrific. I think he is hitting the rhetorical sweet spot; serious and sober critique of the situation this country is facing, coupled with a Reagan-esque optimism for America that sounds genuine.

I think Tim Pawlenty is the obvious choice. I think he's an easy choice. I don't just think he can beat Barack Obama, I know he can beat Barack Obama. I'm no longer on the market looking to be courted by Republican candidates, and I'm in no need of "drafting" anyone else.

TPaw will do for me. TPaw for Prez!

Brian Mattson