Jonah Goldberg

Now back to Pawlenty. His problem stemmed from the fact that he's a vanilla guy who thought he needed to convince conservatives he was a more exciting flavor. He should have waited, because vanilla may not be anyone's first choice, but it's almost everyone's second choice.

In this respect, Herman Cain is the last exciting flavor in the race. As Cain likes to say, he's not a "flavor of the month" because "Haagen-Dazs black walnut tastes good all the time."

Alas, as ABC News has reported, Haagen-Dazs discontinued that ice cream because it basically was a flavor of the month.

Given what we know so far, the allegations that, as head of the National Restaurant Association, Cain sexually harassed two female colleagues won't cause too many to leap from the Cain train. But, combined with his shaky efforts at damage control, the spectacle might keep others from hopping on board. He certainly hasn't enhanced the perception that he's entirely ready for primetime. It still seems like his campaign started as a brilliant book tour that somehow wandered into the GOP primaries.

And that leaves Romney. Not since Bob Dole told Republicans in 1995, "I'm willing to be another Ronald Reagan if that's what you want me to be," has there been a GOP front-runner who seemed more out of sync with his party's passions.

Many conservatives are reconciled to a Romney victory the way they are to the inevitability of catching the seasonal flu.

This should be Pawlenty's moment. He could run as the vanilla alternative to the fat-free, sugar-free vanilla frogurt Romney.

That's not entirely fair to Romney, but what's fair got to do with it?

Just ask Tim Pawlenty.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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