Tim Pawlenty's Facebook Townhall was by most measures a success. Of course, there was a notable tech glitch. The Facebook chat didn't integrate -- a little embarrassing for a "Facebook" townhall -- but users had the option to log in with Twitter, AIM, or MySpace personae. Yay for redundancy.
Among potential 2012 candidates, Pawlenty best fits the archetype of "conservative with a moderate voice". In this time of extremely heated political rancor, Pawlenty has the rare ability to defuse loaded language and calmly acknowledge the validity of the underlying sentiments. He exercised this skill on several voter-submitted questions this evening, and coolly but bluntly enumerated the many ways in which the Federal government is overreaching.
Pawlenty's good instincts and understanding of the underlying structure of the electorate were on display. The internet creates the illusion of intimacy, video all the more so, even in an audience of over a thousand. This was a very agreeable image for the soft-spoken Governor.
Expect other candidates to replicate this forum in the future.