Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Alleged centrist Huntsman falling off the campaign bus

Dana Milbank regrets the imminent departure of Jon Huntsman from the GOP race:

[The GOP] nominating process, controlled by the religious warriors and anti-government agitators who dominate straw polls, has reached its logical conclusion: The hottest candidate in the field is Herman Cain, a fast-food tycoon who never heard of neoconservatism, has never held office, has no foreign policy and a three-digit number for a domestic policy, and likes to joke about electrocuting illegal immigrants. By contrast, Jon Huntsman, governor, ambassador, the man who in a normal political environment would be the most qualified and formidable candidate in the race, wasn’t even on the stage.
A system that rejects a Jon Huntsman in favor of a Herman Cain isn’t a primary process. It is a primal scream.
It’s probably too late for Huntsman. His campaign is in debt and he’s getting 1 to 2 percent in national polls. But in New Hampshire, Huntsman has finally found a compelling message. He has shifted from his initial dubious theme — the need for civility — to the worthier goal of fighting for the political center. He said he would not join his rivals in going to pander to Donald Trump. He bravely proclaimed: “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
Call me crazy, Dana, but the fight "for the political center" is not a message. It is a strategy. And only in the lunatic clown posse which constitutes the gop primary field would Huntsman be viewed as a centrist.

What are some of his positions? His tax reform policy is just a little more sophisticated than Herman Cain's.  His energy policy is 'drill, baby, drill'. And he wants to 'roll back' the health care reform (which part, Jon? The part that guarantees coverage for people with pre-existing conditions?) and financial reform, and 'rein in' the EPA.Which is crazier: denying global warming and trying to rein in the EPA, or believing in global warming while at the same time wanting to rein in the EPA?

Now, it is true that Huntsman also believes in evolution and gravity. But is it centrist to want to amend the US constitution to ban abortion?

Huntsman strikes observers like Milbank as more intelligent than most of the GOP candidates. But how intelligent could he be to hire failed political operatives like Fred Davis and John Weaver , or to be cheered onto the campaign bus by students who had wanted to work for Mitch Daniels? I will say this: his decision to skip the ridiculous Las Vegas debate last night was wise. But it would have been wiser for him to have skipped his whole campaign. I bet he wishes he was still in China. The food is better and the people are saner there.

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