Winking at Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty is running for president. Why can’t we just say it?

Former Gov. Pawlenty — like every presidential candidate before him — has played a cat-and-mouse game for more than three years about his presidential ambitions. Tim Pawlenty wants to be president. Tim Pawlenty is running for president. That remains the worst kept secret, except for the people writing the news stories, who are forced to continue to write as if he’s not because he hasn’t specifically said so.

Today, Pawlenty is going to “announce” on Facebook the equivalent of “I’m thinking of running for president,” by announcing he’s forming an exploratory campaign committee.

And we in the news media are falling for it again, creating a news story where, really, none exists.


If the former governor should become president and write a book about his campaign, trust me: It will not start with the events of March 21, 2011.

This cat-and-mouse game is good for anyone who wants to be president; it keeps the name in the news. This time, it’s being described as the “first formal step” in running for president.

That, of course, is a desperate search for a “hook” to make this seem like a news story. The first formal step was not running for re-election as governor. Another one was forming a PAC to collect money to give away to important politicians you’ll need someday if you want to be president, another was writing a book so that you can be interviewed by the national media and asked whether you’re running for president (where you can declare that you’ve not decided yet), followed by glitzy campaign-style commercials, not to mention all the trips to states that are important only once every four years.

In a few months, Tim Pawlenty will announce that his explorations have led him to announce he’s running for president. We in the media will be there to cover it as if we didn’t already know.


Update 2:23 p.m. Another glitzy commercial accompanied today’s announcement: