Huntsman was a Mormon missionary to Taiwan, where he learned fluent Mandarin and Taiwanese, so obviously he’s going to be of interest to me (I just found out that Bill Clinton also likes him). After dropping out of high school to play keys in a band with his friends, he got his GED and went to the University of Pennsylvania where he got a BA in international politics, and he served as staff assistant in the Reagan administration. Under Bush 1 he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce focused on trade development in east asia and pacific regions, and then US Ambassador to Singapore. Under Bush 2 he was the Deputy United States Trade rep. He also worked in Daddy’s business, the Huntsman Corporation, which allows him to laud his business acumen, but it is also a liability, as he is the son of a billionaire (though first generation) and, like any big business, the corporation seemed to have been involved in some shady things at times. Governor of Utah from 2005-2009, he won reelection with 77.7% of the vote and had approval ratings in the 80s and 90s. However, this is Utah we are talking about. Finally, Obama asked him to be US Ambassador to China, the post he resigned in 2011 to run for president.
His time working for Obama will also be an asset and a liability (see his note to Obama), but I think it will be more of an asset. For one, in a general election, Obama can’t overly attack Huntsman’s competence or integrity, since he, after all, picked him to be his ambassador to an extremely important nation. Also, the liability of working for Obama is only a big deal for the crazy wing of the Republican party (the 50% of the party who thought Obama was not born in the US) who aren’t going to be excited about his reasonable and calm demeanor in the first place. He also is happy to answer when asked why he worked for Obama that he “served his country and would choose to do so again.” He seems entirely unwilling to cater to the Tea Party element and that is why, of all the Republicans, I like him the most (though I’m still not a rabid fan). In sum, he has substantial executive experience, kicks everyone’s butts at foreign policy (though a desire to distance himself from Obama is what I fear has affected his statements on Libya), wants to be the candidate of reasonableness and respect, and I love that he recently told Iowans that he’s not going to campaign there because he thinks ethanol subsidies don’t make sense.
So that is why I hope he does not get the nomination. Though I would love to see some respectful and intelligent Huntsman/Obama debates, I don’t think he can beat Obama in 2012, though he or Romney would be the most likely to, and I don’t want the Republicans to nominate another moderate like John Mccain and lose. Then the crazies in the Republican party will gain even more legitimacy in their narrative that we need even more ideologically entrenched politicos.
Instead, we need their standard bearer to win. So, I declare, go Michele Bachman! If she gets the nomination she’ll get creamed in the general. Subsequently, that wing of the party will be demoralized and weakened. Moreover, she is not articulate enough to create long term party transformation, as Goldwater did in the 1964 election in which he lost spectacularly but articulated a call to conservative principles that have lasted more than a generation. Realistically, her nomination and loss will advance the American cause more than anything I see on the horizon at the moment (which is not saying as much as it sounds). The national debate will become a little more thoughtful as the Republicans are forced to get a little less ideological. Bachman, it seems to me, is just good medicine. It might make you feel a bit nauseous going down, but ultimately it’s for the best.
Finally, what I am saying depends on Obama being quite likely to win. Some of you have expressed disagreement. I invite you to articulate how Obama could lose in 2012. My two biggest reasons are as follows: I think Americans have gotten more negative in how they express opinions. Therefore, lower than expected approval numbers do not necessarily translate into higher than expected approval numbers for somebody else. In other words, everyone gets seen more as a cheap hack. Our political economy is suffering a period of deflation. : ) Also, though Obama’s approval numbers stay hovering in the high 40s, I suspect (I have no evidence) those who are approving of him are centrist democrats and indpendents. Those disapproving are mostly conservatives, but plenty of liberal democrats are as well. In other words, the man is hogging the center, which means the only way for the Republicans to expand would be to beat Obama in the center or grab some liberal Democrats. They could do the latter by being consistent with a libertarian platform by, for example, legalizing drugs. That’ll get a few liberal democrats singing, but I don’t think it would work. So, like always, it’s a fight for the center. Ultimately however, what will likely tip the scale in the center is the state of the economy, which, though improving slowly, is improving.
In personal news, I’m starting to write again. I miss Alicia. Eric is in training. I am housesitting at a friend’s. Family will be visiting soon.
July 12th, 2011 at 6:02 PM
Really appreciate your political analysis, I’m still really bad at keeping up with this stuff so its nice to have at least one place to get a breakdown.