So I caught some of Pawlenty’s line of criticism against Bacmann.  He is saying that Bachmann has no accomplishments to speak of.  That is fair enough, but it won’t help Pawlenty as much as he thinks.  People still know (or think they know) that Bachmann is principled and passionate.  They (to paraphrase Irving Kristol) know no such thing about Pawlenty.  Pawlenty’s hope is to be able sell himself as Bachmann with competence (and Romney with principle.)  This means it isn’t nearly enough to complain that Bachmann has no accomplishments.  He has to first establish himself as an authentic conservative reformer.  That means that he has to connect with a narrative about how he was able to bring Minnesota spending down to a sustainable level and lead the state to around 7% unemployment by the time he stepped down as governor and how he took on the public employee unions and won.  It just so happens that Pawlenty’s narrative of accomplishment is well suited to the current debt ceiling debate.  After establishing himself as a spending cutter and job saver, he can then plausibly say that while he respects Bachmann’s losing stands against the Obama stimulus and Obamacare, Republicans need some substantive wins, and that he has delivered them.

 Disclaimer: I’m on a laptop and stuck with balky WiFi, so no links and very little spell check.  Sorry.  Do check out Ramesh Ponnuru’s NATIONAL REVIEW profile of Pawlenty.  It explains why Pawlenty could be (could have been?) a contender if he can only get a coherent, relevant message and some confidence in his personality.

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