Josh Akman, Columnist

Tim Pawlenty quit.  Based upon on an inability to compete in Iowa, culminating in a disappointing—if not altogether surprising—showing at the Ames Straw Poll, Pawlenty bowed out of the race this past Sunday.  His explanation, much like his speeches throughout his brief campaign, was well-reasoned, safe, and wholly unsurprising.  Citing a lack of a ‘path forward’ or ‘traction,’ Pawlenty gracefully bowed out, a mere 450 days before Election Day 2012. Like any seasoned politician, Pawlenty graciously thanked his supporters and wished the rest of the candidates well.  As I don’t happen to be a political supporter of the former two-term governor of Minnesota, I can’t speak for his supporters’ reaction.  But as a passionate follower of politics, as a voter, and as an American—I’m pissed.

After months of asking for support, both in donations and volunteers, Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race more than a year before Election Day.  He quit before a single state actually voted and before all of the candidates had even entered the race.  He quit because he took third place in the Iowa Straw Poll, losing to Ron Paul, who will never, ever, ever win the nomination, and Michelle Bachmann, who will never, ever, ever, win the nomination.

He quit the race because out of 17,000 votes cast in Ames, Iowa, only 2,300 went to him.  If 3,000 more Iowans voted for him, he would have won in a landside.  Instead, he quit.  By the way, to help get their civic juices flowing, voters were treated to a menu of light fare, including barbeque pork, red velvet cake, and (I swear) fried butter on a stick.  Isn’t it quite possible that 500 Pawlenty supporters went into cardiac arrest while before they were able to vote?

Tim Pawlenty refused to show the fight and the tenacity that might have actually endeared him to some voters.  By dropping out, he sent his supporters a strong message: he didn’t want it badly enough.   So here’s the question—why did he run in the first place? When he announced his candidacy in May, Pawlenty said, “I’m afraid that in 2012, if we’re not honest enough, we may lose our country. If we want to grow our economy, we need to shrink our government. If we want to create jobs, we need to encourage job creators…I’ll unite our party and unite our nation, because to solve a fourteen-trillion-dollar problem, we’re going to need three hundred million people.”  Three months ago, he was afraid that we would lose our country.  This past weekend, he quit.

Running for President of the United States takes a special kind of arrogance.  It took a certain kind of gall for Tim Pawlenty to say that out of the 300 million people in America, he was the best one to lead our armed forces, to lead the Executive Branch, and to be the image of America to rest of the world.  There is not a lot of nuance here, you either know it in your heart or you don’t.  Three months ago, Tim Pawlenty told millions of Americans that he was the right person to lead our country.   Three months, three debates, and 17,000 Iowans later, he changed his mind.  What a colossal waste of everyone’s time.