Tag Archives: election 2012

Jon Huntsman

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.

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My Favorite Republican Hopeful

Now that I am done with my Habitat temp job, it’s time to get down to what’s really important: crudely assessing the Republican presidential field.  I tend to think it’s pretty weak, and, to be honest, a bit embarrassing for Republicans.   Three big heavyweights are sitting out this round: Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie.  I think the main reason is that they realize how little of a chance anyone stands of beating Obama in 2012.  Chris Christie and Marco Rubio are young, and despite what Christie recently said to my old pals on Fox & Friends, they both would make great VPs.  However, let’s look at who’s running.

In general, I think that there are three types of candidates.  For the first, it’s a publicity stunt, a way to sell books, raise your profile, and advance your career (think Michelle Bachman and Herman Cain).

In the second group are those that have very little or no chance of achieving the nomination, but they hope to shape the debate.  Ron Paul is the quintessence of this group.  Gary Johnson joins Paul in his love for most things libertarian, and I tend to like him.  He seems interested in solving problems and is refreshingly thoughtful on policy issues.  For example, in the June 13th CNN debate he proposed a kind of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants which centered around making it easy to achieve work VISAs.  I find it sad that it takes guts to suggest this in the Republican world of absolutist solutions (e.g. send everyone back!).  He’s also a fan of legalizing many types of drugs, which I agree with wholeheartedly.  Newt Gingrich has such high negatives that he really has little chance of being president, but he hopes to shape the discussion and be the Republican ideas man.  This hope betrays an intent that indicates a firm footing in the first group as well, as he hopes to sell more of the 21 books he’s published.  Really, the guy has very little chance, and you better believe that he knows it too.  Finally, Rick Santorum is in this group as well.  He wants to shape the debate by bringing the pet issues of the religious right to the forefront.  The problem is that he cannot distinguish himself as everyone seems on board.  There is no front runner like Rudy Guiliani who is pro-choice.  Nonetheless, I do believe that Santorum thinks Santorum has a shot at winning everything.

The third type of presidential candidate is actually running for president.  So far, only three people populate this group: Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman.  Mitt is the frontrunner I suppose, but these early polls are extremely meaningless.  I think he’s the frontrunner in large part because he is the only one of these three with larger name recognition, a holdover from the last presidential contest.  However, I remember him primarily for conveniently flip-flopping on abortion, viciously attacking John McCain in the primary debates last time around, and spending a shit-ton of money in Iowa and losing to an insurgent, relatively poor, and likable Huckabee.  I am comforted by the fact that even Romney’s supporters don’t really seem to like him, and may easily defect.  These numbers won’t be replaced, because he can’t get much tea party support with his record on health care reform, which is so toxic to the extreme elements in his party.  Tim Pawlenty seems like a serious candidate, but he seems to be continually trying to feign outrage in order to grab some share of the Tea Party.  But he’s not an angry guy, and he’s not really that confrontational, as was shown by how he sidestepped his Obamneycare line at the June 13th debate.  Also, I just disagree with him about most things he says.  So that leaves us with Jon Huntsman, my current fav.  I’ll talk about why in my next post.