This is something I’ve been lamenting. I think NR’s Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry nail the current zeitgeist here:
Not only is Pawlenty naturally mild-mannered, he has spent eight years pushing conservative policy statewide in blue Minnesota, where inflammatory words would not help his cause. The current conservative mood, though, rewards rhetorical combativeness. Witness the recent boomlet for Donald Trump, who had no conservative credentials whatsoever but who was a famous loudmouth.
They go on to astutely observe a trap T-Paw may easily fall into:
Back in 2008, Mitt Romney got a rap for inauthenticity by shifting rightward on the issues. Pawlenty runs a risk of making himself inauthentic by changing his affect. He’ll have to find a way to make himself interesting without betraying his natural persona (which may well be an asset in appealing to the middle in a general election). Is it possible to be nice and reasonable yet compelling? We’ll find out.