Steve Benen is concerned that the shorter presidential campaign this time around -- well, at least parts of the public portion of it are shorter -- will result in less scrutiny of the candidates. He backs that up with some pretty good evidence about the coverage patterns of the major newspapers now, compared to 2007.
I tend to agree with Benen that it's a nice feature of the long campaign that candidates are publicly vetted. It's a bit catch-as-catch-can; remember, George W. Bush managed to hide a DUI until almost the eve of the general election in 2000. But still, in a very large nation in which all the politicians can't possibly know each other very well, I think that public vetting-by-media is probably on the healthy side. For the parties, too: remember, if Gary Johnson or Buddy Roemer once killed a guy, Republicans would probably like to know about it before they nominate that Johnson/Roemer ticket next summer.
But I think the evidence is pretty strong that there will still be plenty of time. 1992 was a slow-developing campaign, too, and reporters managed to dig up plenty about Bill Clinton's draft record and marital issues before the first voters got involved. And while I'm generally reluctant to be one who says that the internet changes everything, I do think this is at least plausibly a case where it matters. For one thing, in the old days -- say, before the debut of the Hotline in the 1988 cycle -- it was still possible for a local story to sit out there for a long time without anyone knowing it. No way could that happen now.
Of course, there's always the chance that Tim Pawlenty will never be vetted because anyone who tries focusing on him for more than a few minutes will fall into a deep sleep.
Just kidding. He's probably "boring" in the same way that Gore in 2000 was a liar and Bush in 2000 was stupid. So I probably shouldn't be contributing to it...but, yeah, I do find him dull so far.
(edited the last sentence)