Friday, January 6, 2012

The Passion of Jon Huntsman

In my past criticisms of the GOP presidential field, the caveat "with the exception of Jon Huntsman" appeared routinely. In fact, it was obligatory. For Huntsman remains the sole Republican candidate who cannot be described as unintelligent, irrational, inauthentic, mendacious or outright scary. He was (and is) the moderate, sane one.

Though the ex-ambassador to China is not my cup of tea politically, I suspect few would worry about handing him the nuclear launch codes if he miraculously won the presidency. As a serious man grounded in the reality-based world, Huntsman would at least govern responsibly. Moreover, if there was ever a Republican who could contest Obama on something like equal terms in 2012, it is Huntsman. And yet, he has zero chance of winning his party's nomination. That honor will likely go to the inanimate object named Willard "Mitt" Romney. Hell, there's even an outside chance that Rick Perry or Rick Santorum -- the GOP's Tweedledum and Tweedledee -- could win it. In effect, the party is fielding kamikaze pilots who are finishing their last round of ceronmonial Sake before heading to their planes and certain political death. Meanwhile, it is a virtual certainty that Huntsman, their best flyer against Obama, will be blown out of the sky next Tuesday in the NH primary, thus ending his quixotic but honorable bid.

Time's Joe Klein seems to agree. He thinks Huntsman's deeper "sin" has always been his "vitriol-free candidacy." Klein writes:
"There is no gratuitous sliming of Barack Obama or his fellow Republican candidates. There is no spurious talk of 'socialism.' He pays not the slightest heed to the various licks and chops that Rush Limbaugh has made into stations of the cross for Republican candidates. He is out-of-step with the anger that has overwhelmed his party and puts it at odds with the vast, sensible mainstream of this country. Because he has refused to engage in such carnival tactics–because he hasn’t had any oops! moments, extramarital affairs, lobbying deals with Freddie Mac or flip-flops–the media have largely ignored him. That makes us complicit in a national political calamity. But Republican voters have been complicit, too: a conservative party that doesn’t take Huntsman seriously as a candidate has truly lost its way."

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