Misreading the Huntsman Pick

Lots of political analysts have described President Obama's selection of Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as his ambassador to China as a political masterstroke -- ...
by | May 21, 2009
 

Lots of political analysts have described President Obama's selection of Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as his ambassador to China as a political masterstroke -- either exceedingly shrewd or deviously cynical -- in which Obama eliminated his strongest possible 2012 opponent. This line of thinking makes absolutely no sense to me. The New Republic's profile of Huntsman makes the obvious point:

Two years was probably not enough time for the party to change. "He realized he'd just be beating his head against the wall with these guys, which made him open to the phone call [from Obama]," says another source close to Huntsman. "If he thought he had a real chance to be the standard-bearer and savior of the party, obviously he would have said no."

By picking Huntsman, Obama helps prove that he is serious about bipartisanship. He's also, from everything I've read, getting a smart, skilled ambassador for a key diplomatic post.

But, someone whose only claim to fame on the national scene is saying that the Republican Party is too conservative and too reflexively opposed to Obama's policies never was going to be the G.O.P. presidential nominee. If Huntsman had thought otherwise, he didn't have to take the job.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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