Monday, January 31, 2011

Huntsman resigns, 2012 speculation goes wild

President Obama's (Republican) ambassador to China, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, resigned today. The CW speculation is that he'll run for president, hoping to challenge his former boss, or at least that he'll explore a run.

He may well do that, the latter if not necessarily the former, and, to be sure, as I wrote recently, he would be a formidable Republican opponent for Obama.

It's possible that he'll end up being the surprise McCain of 2012, an establishment Republican with solid conservative bona fides but also a maverick streak that sets him apart, often to his detriment within the party.

Which is to say, should he run, he could win the nomination if the moderates and establishment conservatives, those who actually want to try to win, get behind him and the right fails to figure out a unifying candidate of its own. He'd have to get by the likes of Romney and Pawlenty, as well as Huckabee and whoever ends up running under the Tea Party banner, but he'd certainly have a good shot at it.

But as I also wrote, it just isn't going to happen. He won't end up running against Obama because he won't win the Republican nomination. As Ezra Klein asks:

Can someone sketch me out an even moderately plausible scenario in which a moderate Republican governor who broke with his party on civil unions and cap-and-trade and then joined the Obama administration wins both the GOP nomination and the presidential election in 2012? 

Well, no -- not unless the GOP completely changes course and rejects its own right-wing mainstream (along with the Tea Party). And, again, that ain't gonna happen.

It's just not his time to lead the party that for the most part has left him behind as it descends ever further into madness.

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