The race for the Republican nomination is the most watched, talked about, and discussed political event in the world. America has interests everywhere in the world; and everyone has an interest in America. Given the anger and disappointment Obama has managed to accrue for himself during his tenure, the person who wins the Republican ticket has a major chance of becoming the world’s most powerful person.
But Jon Huntsman will not be that person.
No betting man would put money on a Huntsman presidency for the simple fact that nobody — or at least, nobody who matters — likes Huntsman. In a race dominated by cheap talking points, bumbling gaffes, policy ignorance, and blind paranoia, Huntsman is the boring one. And it’s a losing strategy for him.
What he needs is flash and style. Flimsy talking points and half-hearted policy stances may be alright for a Democrat primary but this is the Big Time, Jon. You need to go out there and rant!
Somehow, Huntsman has managed to angle himself as the Democrat’s Republican – the sort of candidate Democratic voters won’t instinctively throw a hissy fit over and threaten to move to Canada should Obama lose next year. In a packed field of GOP fanatics, Huntsman seems tolerable by comparison.
Which is deeply odd because Huntsman, aside from some knowledge of foreign affairs and missing the reflexive GOP cynicism on climate change, has all the conservative bona fides that a Republican could want. Huntsman is utterly convinced of the necessity to institute a ruinous flat tax and has been making all the right-wing rumblings of opening up a war with Iran.
It’s a real mystery why this man – who supported cap and trade before turning his back on it — should have some or any support with the Democrats. Is it really enough, Dems, that Huntsman is not a Bachmann/Gingrich/Perry? Chances are, if elected, he'd do the same as those guys but actually be competent at fulfilling a conservative America.
But we do know why Republicans hate Huntsman. Conveniently, he combines nearly all the negative qualities that, for this cycle, are anathema to the Republican voter, sharing the distrust of being a Mormon (robo-Romney’s only serious impediment), a career politician (which never dogged flash-in-the-pizza-pan Cain), and somebody who actually – shock! – worked with Obama.
This still doesn’t fully explain why Huntsman just isn’t registering with Republicans. He’s not too much of a conservative heretic and, while suspicions of being a progressive haunt him, surely it’s not as instantly damaging as the sort of scandals that have dogged the past three frontrunners.
Huntsman shares something with fellow media basement dweller Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) in that, unlike the GOP frontrunners, he lacks the slippery style of the angry pol. Sure, his policies are half-way reasonable but he’s never gotten down to actively froth at the mouth and declare existential threat after existential threat.
He has not become the raving, paranoid, rage-fuelled GOPer and he refuses, adamantly, to play the “I, and Only I, Can Save America” card.
Prior to tanking, Gingrich knew this and was not afraid to show America just how out-of-touch with reality he was. Gingrich’s problem was that he didn’t know how to then subsequently stop. The same went for Cain, while Perry and Bachmann continue to simmer in their delusional pronouncements.
What a Republican needs in this race is to tap into the roiling pool of Tea Party anger – really get in there, coin a few Obaminations, and seek to crush the middle classes – in order to get some, or for Huntsman, any, attention. Embrace the inner loon, Jon. Don't just endorse a flat tax, explain to us how any other tax is a Leninist dream; tell us how Iran will wipe out baseball; and make a PowerPoint on how Mexican drug gangs are funding an immigrant rocket to kill American baby jobs.
Then they'll listen. You'll surge (briefly). And Romney will still be the candidate.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore