Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Huntsman 2012?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I tend to agree with Obama campaign guru David Plouffe that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (who makes Plouffe a "wee bit queasy") could be a formidable Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Bucking the rightward shift of his party, and avoiding its drive for ideological purification, Huntsman is actually something of an independent-minded figure, a moderate, relatively speaking (that is, by Utah standards), with potentially broad appeal beyond Dear Leader Rush and the right-wing echo chamber. (I have previously posted on his admirable support for gay civil unions and his admirable dismissal of Congressional Republicans.)

As WaPo's Chris Cillizza writes, Huntsman is on the rise, with former McCain adviser John Weaver feeding him "strategic guidance." And at a time when populist, anti-Washington rage is all the rage, not least among the right-wing teabagging crowd, Huntsman's outsider qualifications, even as the son of a billionaire and a rather wealthy man himself, could serve him well. Like Sarah Palin, he's the governor of an eccentric, solidly Republican state, but, unlike her, he actually seems to know what he's doing, seems to be fairly bright and sensible, seems to take politics seriously (and not as a vehicle for personal aggrandizement and the settling of personal feuds), and seems not to want to endear himself to the theocrats and libertarians who dominate the GOP (like Mitt Romney, who is clearly eyeing 2012, he's a Mormon, but his conservative credentials are far more genuine, and perhaps for that reason he's not nearly the sort of sucker-upper to the establishment that Romney is). Yeah, I'd say that should make us queasy.

Huntsman is still a relatively unknown figure (and it's not clear how he would conduct himself on the national stage). That can change in a hurry -- who was Bill Clinton in 1989? -- but long before a campaign against Obama, a campaign it's hard to imagine him winning, he would face the obstacle of securing his own party's nomination, and it's similarly hard to imagine the extremists who currently control the GOP taking to such an independent-minded renegade.

Huntsman may make us all a little queasy, but, thankfully, Republicans are just too stupid to know what's good for them.

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  • Pro-civil union and a Mormon? That makes him a Satanist twice over as far as the religious-right bloc of the GOP is concerned. He'd make me queasy, too, but I don't see how on earth he's going to get the nomination in a party that's hell-bent on enforcing purity.

    By Blogger Steve M., at 4:00 PM  

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