Did the GOP Force Huntsman to China?

August 6th, 2009 at 1:37 pm | 8 Comments |

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Since the 2008 election, buy cialis Republican leaders have been playing an odd game of musical chairs. Mitt Romney has altered the game so that instead of running when the music starts, store he sits calmly in his gold-covered chair, ambulance only shifting his position when it comes close to election time. Sarah Palin gave up her chair, but she claims she can play the game (even better) without one. Newt Gingrich prefers book-publishing to chair-chasing, but his supporters have saved him a chair anyway. And Michael Steele is currently redesigning the chairs in the hope that his bottom will be the only one that properly fits.

But despite these antics, the game still mirrors the one played in first grade—one player loses a chair each round when the music stops.

For Bobby Jindal, the music stopped just when it should have started—during his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of The Union. Mark Sanford lost his chair somewhere in the Appalachian Trail, and John Ensign lost his chair despite the best effort of his parents.

This week’s dropout is Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr.—President Obama’s pick for ambassador to China.

Unfortunately, Huntsman is exactly the type of competent conservative that the Republican Party needs. Evidence? According to the Pew Center on the States, Utah is the “The Best Managed State in the Nation.” In May 2008, Forbes Magazine named Salt Lake City one of the top 10 “recession proof cities,” and it goes on to describe Utah as the second best state for business. Throughout most of his tenure, Huntsman held approval ratings above 80 percent, and he won reelection in 2008 with 77.6 percent of the vote.  Governor Huntsman is intelligent, has strong conservative credentials, is free of controversy, and, as an added bonus, he is wealthy enough to make his own waves.

National recognition of Huntsman had just begun to grow prior to Obama’s appointment. The Washington Post and USA Today both named him as one of the “top Republicans” in the months following the election, and the New York Times called him one of the leaders of “New Republicanism.” Prominent figures ranging from John McCain to John Kerry acknowledge Huntsman as a competent, knowledgeable, and eloquent leader.

So what happened?

First, and most obviously, President Obama nominated Huntsman to be Ambassador to China—and when the President asks you to serve in a position of high importance, it’s hard to say “no” even if he is of the other party. Some commentators say Obama deserves praise for ignoring party line to pick a Republican, but as Andrew Sullivan and others have pointed out, the nomination could be seen as an Obama stratagem to eliminate a strong 2012 rival.

Second, Huntsman’s decision to leave the United States and Republican politics is partially self-motivated.  The Governor has long had an interest in China—he served a two-year LDS mission in Taiwan and has returned to China and Taiwan many times on behalf of the United States government. After a year spent as the ambassador to Singapore (1992-93), he lobbied for the Chinese embassy—a wish that has now come true. Furthermore, if Huntsman does have an eye on the oval office, 2012 is not the right year. The field is already crowded with leftovers from 2008, and Mitt Romney is firmly entrenched as the “Mormon candidate.”

The third and final factor contributing to Huntsman’s departure, and the one most important to this site, is the attitude of the Republican Party.  David Frum has previously noted on this site that the Party may not yet be ready for Huntsman’s brand of moderate Republicanism. This became especially apparent after the Michigan Kent County Republican Party “unvitation” due to Huntsman’s endorsement of civil unions and the following reasonable statement:

We must embrace all citizens as equals; I’ve always stood tall on this.

The Republican Party also continues to display a sad skepticism toward members of the Mormon (LDS) faith.  Mike Huckabee did a masterful underhanded job of painting Mitt Romney as a cult member—Governor Huntsman would face the same charge if he moved into the national spotlight.

If the Republican Party has played a role in casting out one qualified leader, let’s make sure we don’t unjustly eliminate any more—heaven knows there are already too few chairs left in the game.

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Not a RINO

    Come on Stephen. So, he lobbied to be Ambassador to China under Clinton and then again under Obama. Doesn’t that say something about the man? It is quite easy to say “no” to a President who is asking you to go overseas and advocate positions that are contrary to the core beliefs of the GOP.

  • Observer

    And that response reinforces why the GOP is in the minority today.

    What does this have to do with the core beliefs of the GOP? He gets to serve and represent the core beliefs of his country. Funny, I thought that was supposed to come first.

  • Not a RINO


    Have you been living under a rock for the past week? China came out and said that 13 MILLION abortions were performed there last year. And that is their figure, imagine what the actual number is.

    And have you seen the Chinese jailing the Caholic Bishops as well? Or did you miss that too?

    Those are policies Obama supports. He likes abortion and hates the Catholic Church. (Remember, at least 3 nominees for Ambassador to the Holy See were rejected by the Pope.)

    The GOP is on the other side. We actually oppose murder and support religious freedom. At least true members of the GOP do.

  • sricher

    Wait… what does that have to do with Huntsman? Being ambassador doesn’t mean he endorses China’s actions…

    If anything, you should be happy that Obama chose somebody with solid Republican principles (including his attitude toward abortion and religion). He might exert some influence on China.

  • Not a RINO


    Because Huntsman will not depart from Obama’s directions on these matters. That is the job of an ambassador last time I checked. They do as the President tells them to do. That means that Huntsman will be backing Obama’s policies on abortion and religion. He won’t be expresssing his personal feelings on behalf of the US, he will be expressing Barry Obama’s views.

    True Republicans would refuse to go overseas and spout off that BS. A true Republican would tell Obama where to stick it. A true Republican can say no.

  • JohnMcC

    If you haven’t figured it out already, Mr Not-A-Rino(sic), here it is in a nutshell: Most people believe that a political party exists to get people elected. Your side believes the Repubs exist to do God’s will.

    And in a democracy, ‘ Vox Populi, Vox Dei’.

  • sricher

    Can’t we all just be friends? :) We’re all Republicans!

  • Cforchange

    Hey not-a-rino, you’ve made me laugh and cry. Heavens no, we don’t want party members that can deliver results like this.

    Utah is the “The Best Managed State in the Nation.” In May 2008, Forbes Magazine named Salt Lake City one of the top 10 “recession proof cities,” and it goes on to describe Utah as the second best state for business.

    We want leaders who captivate us is a warm fuzzy kinda way you know like Ensign.

    Of course I’m joking, your handle really should be not-a-republican-either. You are a special interest one issue voter who should join a Sunday morning crusade. Your conduct is specifically why we are a growing minority. Placing lower priority on competance and substance when evaluating candidate viability has damaged our party and the damage may in fact be terminal.