Jon Huntsman Breaks Reagan’s 11th Commandment – But Then, So are All the Other Republican Candidates
For the first time since he declared his candidacy, Jon Huntsman is making the news. Huntsman has decided that being the only sane candidate in the Republican field isn’t enough (since he barely registers in polls of Republican voters). So he has shifted his campaign into being “assertively sane.” And to do this he has taken to critiquing his fellow Republicans. For example, after Gov. Perry joined with fellow tea party extremist Michele Bachmann in declaring that the science of climate change is a hoax, Huntsman countered by tweeting:
”To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
OMG…did he really say that?
Okay, that was a bit melodramatic. But clearly Huntsman is staking out the “I’m the sane one” vote. Unfortunately for Huntsman there may not be any sane voters in the Republican primaries.
But Huntsman has taken this a step further. He appeared on ABC’s “This Week” program this morning and, in reference to a question about Gov. Perry’s denial of science statements (both the denial of climate change and the denial of evolution), Huntsman replied he thinks the worsening trend of the Republican party being “the anti-science party” is a “huge problem.” In fact, he added:
“I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science.”
Huntsman’s critique of Rick Perry didn’t stop there. He also worked in a subtle jibe about Perry’s threats to have Texas secede from the United States. Notwithstanding the inherent hypocrisy of threatening secession from the US, then running for President of the US, Perry went on to threaten Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (a Bush appointee) with the potential for “treason.” Such rhetoric is common in politics, especially with the tea party crowd, but Perry even suggested the possibility of bodily harm to Bernanke just because Perry disagrees – “we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.” Huntsman, of course, thought that Perry was being rather cowboyish and “not Presidential” in his suggestions that mob rule would be an acceptable method of discussing economic policy.
Huntsman went on to say that he “wouldn’t necessarily trust” any of his opponents to handle the economy. Ouch.
In fact, Huntsman added: “I have to say that there was zero leadership on display in terms of my opponents . . . “
Needless to say, Huntsman is getting a bit of flack from those Republicans who hypocritically wave the Reagan idolatry flag while pushing the party so far right that the Gipper himself would be dumped off his own pedestal. But Huntsman is not alone in critiquing his colleagues (in fact, the whole “don’t critique your colleagues” is a myth anyway since they all do it all the time). The hubbub the last week has been about how all the Bush people (Karl Rove and the rest of the Bush legacy team) have been trash-talking Rick Perry. It’s hard to know whether this is due to some childish rivalry between the two Texas Governors or if it is because the Bush team knows a lot more about Perry than the rest of us. The latter seems probable given that Rove created Perry (I saw an article some where about “Rove creating a monster”).
Frankly, I encourage all that trash talking. It’s helps bring the candidates out of the talking points they have rehearsed so as to sound unrehearsed when they give them. And it allows us voters to see the real candidates. So far for Rick Perry we have seen that he is a major hypocrite, tends toward arrogant and violent methods to achieve his goals, but is quite adept at seducing his crowd of followers. For Jon Huntsman we find that he is perhaps too cerebral for the Republican party (especially the tea party wing, who may not like him anyway because of that Mormon thing), isn’t flashy enough to get noticed, and at least lately seemingly understanding that he needs to set himself up as the rational alternative to the nutties on the tea party side of the party and the squishiness of the Romney (and ex-Pawlenty) side of the party.
This could get interesting.