Obama Should Pass on Susan Rice, Nominate Republican Jon Huntsman For Secretary of State


The arguments against Susan Rice’s nomination and subsequent confirmation as secretary of State have mainly centered on her misleading the American public on the Sunday talk shows following the September 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Richard Grenell tried to distinguish his opposition to Rice by commenting on her “miserable UN record.” However, the reason to not give the nod to Susan Rice is much simpler: Jon Huntsman is the better choice.

You may be asking “didn’t Huntsman run for the Republican nomination for president?” Yes, Huntsman wanted the GOP endorsement and was easily the most moderate candidate on stage. A significant part of the criticism against him in the primaries was his involvement in the Obama administration as the U.S. ambassador to China. Despite the attacks by his Republican opponents, Huntsman defended his service for a Democrat president as a civic duty that he was called upon to perform. This goes without mentioning that Huntsman’s assertion that the criticism of Rice over Benghazi is “overblown” further demonstrates his non-partisanship in foreign policy. Likewise, he clearly has a rapport with President Obama as someone who can represent the policies of the oval office internationally even though he is a Republican.

Since its clear that that Huntsman has the trust of the president, what qualifications make him the best choice for secretary of State?

Huntsman was involved in four different presidential administrations. Along with being ambassador to China for Obama, Huntsman was also a White House staffer for Reagan, ambassador to Singapore for H.W. Bush, and a deputy U.S. Trade Representative for W. Bush. Huntsman’s familiarity with Asia policy fulfills a requisite for the secretary of State position moving forward, as China is expected to overtake the United States as the largest economy in the world in the coming decades. With growing economic and security concerns in the eastern hemisphere, having Huntsman, who is fluent in Chinese and has spent an extensive amount of time in the region, as the nation’s top diplomat would show that the U.S. recognizes and understands the sensitive nature of policymaking in the region.

Huntsman also understands a wide range of domestic interests. As the former CEO of the multinational Huntsman Corporation, Huntsman is well aware of the demands of the business community and the need for favorable investment policies internationally. Simultaneously, Huntsman’s experience as governor of Utah provides him valuable insight on the concerns of American states in regards to their international counterparts.

Politically, Huntsman is President Obama’s optimal choice. Democrats and moderates like him and, although he may not be the favorite of the most conservative wings of the party, the nomination of a Republican for secretary of State will be applauded by the GOP. His confirmation would not be difficult to pass through the Senate and Obama would eliminate the political backlash that is currently associated with Susan Rice. At this critical juncture in American politics with the looming fiscal cliff, the nomination of Huntsman would be an effective show of bipartisanship on behalf of the president at home and would provide the country with an exceptionally qualified diplomat abroad.