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Dec 04 2012

Huntsman Speaks the Truth

Jon Huntsman’s short-lived candidacy for the Republican party’s presidential nomination was brief but appears to have made him understand what has happened to his party. Doomed from the start by his penchant for accepting the truth of well-established scientific theories like evolution and global warming that contradict conservative orthodoxy, Huntsman seems to have had a run-from-Jesus moment:

His sharpest words were directed not to the future of the GOP but at the not-so-distant past. Huntsman described the Republican primary process as corrosive, producing pledge-signing, cookie-cutter candidates more interested in money and publicity than policy. Recalling one particular debate, Huntsman described the sensation he felt observing his fellow White House aspirants.

“Some do it professionally. Some were entertainers,” he said of the Republican presidential field. “I looked down the debate stage, and half of them were probably on Fox contracts at one point in their career. You do that. You write some books. You go out and you sell some more. You get a radio gig or a TV gig out of it or something. And it’s like, you say to yourself, the barriers of entry to this game are pretty damn low.”

He chuckled a bit when reminded that a pizza conglomerate, in the person of Herman Cain, had led the Iowa caucus polls at one point. “It wasn’t a period where rational thinking or any kind of commitment to reality or truth or optimism necessarily prevailed,” Huntsman said. “It was how can you eviscerate the opposition.”…

“In my party, compromise cannot be seen as analogous to treason, which it has been recently,” he said.

This is what extremists do to a party. For the extremists, purity is the only goal and must be pursued no matter what the practical cost to the party or to the country. He continued:

“We used to be the party that put out wars: Eisenhower, Korea; Nixon, Vietnam; Reagan, the Cold War. And here we talk about starting wars. That’s all Republicans on the defense side seem to want to talk about — not negotiating a way forward diplomatically, as we had under earlier Republican administrations, but always falling back on the war option as if we haven’t had enough over the past 12 years.”

Tonally as well, Huntsman insisted his party has to evolve. The cultivation of knee-jerk conflict, he argued, has produced remarkably little fruit. For four years, the goal was to “thwart the opposition, stymie the opposition, obfuscate, be a flamethrower, go out there and destroy the system, and here we are,” he said. “We have seen the results of that mentality.”

Welcome to reality, Jon. It took you too long to get here, but that’s still a hell of a lot better than most of your partisan colleagues.

37 comments

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  1. 1
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Poor Huntsman. He always did look a little lost, as though he had somehow found himself as the only adult on stage in the middle of a school production of “Lord of the Flies” and the kids are starting to get a bit too caught up in the story.

  2. 2
    democommie

    Now if he could just disavow the batshit KKKrazzeeness of his economic “Plan”* and come up with one that doesn’t advance the interests of the corporatists (who already have enough fucking cheerleaders in congress and the media) over those of the 90+% of the U.S. that don’t already make millions every year.

    I see that happening around the time my unity pony starts shitting Kruger Rands.

    * http://www.jon2012.com/jon-email/TimeToCompete.pdf

  3. 3
    eric

    That’s [starting wars is] all Republicans on the defense side seem to want to talk about — not negotiating a way forward diplomatically, as we had under earlier Republican administrations, but always falling back on the war option as if we haven’t had enough over the past 12 years.”

    To be fair, today’s Dems are very hawkish too. At least since 9/11 neither party has really been supportive of using diplomacy first to resolve conflicts. At best you get parallel efforts, but military force is no longer considered a last resort. Its pretty indicative of where US politics has gone that his examples of diplomatic Republicans are from the ’70s and ’50s. Lockheed and Northrup are strong lobbyists.

  4. 4
    Zeno

    Huntsman overstates the case about Nixon ending the Vietnam War. Nixon probably prolonged it.

  5. 5
    anandine

    Huntsman started off his campaign as you say, reasonable. But later, he started waffling on global warming and other issues. He seemed to be trying to pander but not being very good at it. Maybe his heart wasn’t in it, but he did his best to pander to the wingnuts.

  6. 6
    Michael Heath

    Jon Huntsman writes:

    “In my party, compromise cannot be seen as analogous to treason, which it has been recently,” [Jon Huntsman] said.

    Here’s a conservative god whose record demonstrated a commitment to compromise:

    “. . . the person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.”
    Ronald Reagan, cite: http://goo.gl/x4ntD

    One of the sad ironies of our laudably pointing to a few on the right who haven’t descended into dishonest lunacy is that these people are still conservatives in terms of policies though obviously not their mindset, e.g., Bruce Bartlett, David Frum, and Jon Huntsman. There were halycon days when those Republicans treated with respect by non-Republicans were not conservatives, but instead people who thought like liberals while promoting centrist or moderate policy positions. For me it was illustrative in my support of long-time Michigan governor William Milliken and to a smaller degree, President Gerald Ford. The northeast had many Republican members of Congress who didn’t self-identify as conservatives who promoted centrist positions.

    I bring this up because there are still decreasingly frequent times when us moderates begrudgingly vote for conservatives because we perceive they’re less worse than the liberal the Democrats are promoting. The only time I’ve done this in the past twelve years was in 2010 when I voted for Rick Snyder for gov. of MI over the bozo the Democrats promoted. Where those of us who are older fondly remember the opportunity to vote for a Republican who wasn’t actually a conservative, allowing us to vote for the candidate, not necessarily against their opponent.

    The best argument I’ve seen recently on the country’s need for a competent Republican party came from Rachel Maddow. This came soon after the last election where she dissected the reasons the GOP lost where those factors will increasingly make it more difficult for Republicans to win future elections.

  7. 7
    slc1

    Re eric @ #3

    In fairness, President Obama has shown himself to be rather more cautious about committing American military assets to foreign adventures then his predecessor was, and he has taken considerable heat from the more hawkish members of his party for that caution. He took a back seat to Britain and France in the Libyan exercise and has shown considerable caution relative to intervening in Syria.

  8. 8
    grizzle

    I don’t buy a word of it. Both Jon Huntsman & Bobby Jindal are just as, if not more conservative than all their little cohorts. Just take a peak at what these two clowns have voted for in the past…

    Nice try Mr. Huntsman…

  9. 9
    brucegee1962

    My parents voted straight Republican from Eisenhower through Ford. Now they vote straight Democrat. They insist that they haven’t moved — the party just moved out from under them.

  10. 10
    eric

    slc: I somewhat disagree. He has certainly pulled back troops and not committed troops to new interventions, but the presence or absence of US soldiers is no longer a good measure of military interventionism or restraint (cough UAVs cough).

  11. 11
    Michael Heath

    Jon Huntsman writes:

    We used to be the party that put out wars: Eisenhower, Korea; Nixon, Vietnam; Reagan, the Cold War.

    Zeno responds:

    Huntsman overstates the case about Nixon ending the Vietnam War. Nixon probably prolonged it.

    Mr. Huntsman didn’t oversell anything; his assertion is both factually correct and not disingenuously framed. We can argue on the amount of credit, and blame if you’re a hawk, President Nixon deserves vs. the efforts of others, e.g., liberal Democrats, Henry Kissinger, but that in no way changes the reality that President Nixon ended the Vietnam War which is all that Mr. Huntsman asserts.

  12. 12
    sbh

    The Cold War ended during the administration of George H. W. Bush, not Ronald Reagan. Both Republicans, true, so I guess it doesn’t affect Huntsman’s main point, but still…

  13. 13
    Raging Bee

    At least since 9/11 neither party has really been supportive of using diplomacy first to resolve conflicts.

    Really? What do you think Obama has been doing WRT Egypt, Libya, China, etc.? In case you haven’t noticed, the PoG have been calling him a traitorous weakling for being diplomatic and not just blowing shit up and calling it “leadership.”

    …that in no way changes the reality that President Nixon ended the Vietnam War…

    I think Zeno’s point was that Nixon ended the war much later than he could have; i.e., only after a wider, more destructive bombing campaign didn’t get him the victory he expected, and he ended up doing what he could have done as soon as he got elected, with no better results than if he’d done it sooner. So yes, it could be argued that he did prolong that war.

  14. 14
    Ben P

    Poor Huntsman. He always did look a little lost, as though he had somehow found himself as the only adult on stage in the middle of a school production of “Lord of the Flies” and the kids are starting to get a bit too caught up in the story.

    In my opinion Huntsman had the best response, bar none, from the GOP Primary debates.

    IN the New Hampshire debate, China came up. Romney used the same china attack line he later used in the debates with Obama.

    Huntsman said, in Mandarin “Romney does not understand the situation.” Romney responded with “I’m lost….”

  15. 15
    Raging Bee

    He seemed to be trying to pander but not being very good at it. Maybe his heart wasn’t in it, but he did his best to pander to the wingnuts.

    It remains to be seen whether or not he will go the way of Steve Forbes, John McCain, and too many other “moderates” who get unfairly trashed by the far right, and then, instead of fighting back against them, end up caving to them and sucking up to them in some of the most disgraceful (and unsuccessful) cases of Stockolm Syndrome I’ve ever seen.

    PS: Is Huntsman a Mormon? If so, how do most Mormons feel about his mistreatment in the PoG primaries?

  16. 16
    Raging Bee

    Huntsman said, in Mandarin “Romney does not understand the situation.” Romney responded with “I’m lost….”

    Was that before or after Ron Paul’s PAC photoshopped his face onto a Chinese army uniform and attacked him as a pro-China traitor?

  17. 17
    Michael Heath

    brucegee1962 writes:

    My parents voted straight Republican from Eisenhower through Ford. Now they vote straight Democrat. They insist that they haven’t moved — the party just moved out from under them.

    Well during that era there was a conservative and plutocratic wing of the GOP that was arguably repugnant. However I think some dynamics need to be presented to understand why people who take your parents’ position did so in a paradigm different than the one operating between the period of Eisenhower to Ford.

    One was that during this time liberals and conservatives in the Democratic party repeatedly demonstrated an inability to competently govern. This incompetency wasn’t as widespread in the Democratic party as it is now within the Republican party, but it was there and we still suffer from it when we consider some our decaying cities, unviable pension plans, the demise of unions, and an inability to optimally compete globally. So if you wanted competent governance, the most compelling candidate back then was frequently a Republican. Especially in certain geographical locations.

    A second important factor was that both parties back then had its repellant sub-populations. The Democrats has a liberal wing that brought ruin to many of our cities and contributed to the U.S.’s inability to optimally compete globally (though businesses also contributed). The Democrats back then also had the southern conservative Christians who now infect the GOP. So you couldn’t escape having to hold your nose regarding either party.

    I don’t think that’s true today and therefore why the Democrats are now so superior to the GOP. I think the Republicans are almost wholly repugnant now, with only rare exceptions; whereas the only repugnant elements of the Democrats are now largely ineffectual, at least at the national and state level. Which as your parents expressed, are policies in line with where they’ve always resided on the political compass.

  18. 18
    mandyjane

    Out of all the Republican candidates, Jon Huntsman was my favorite. I knew he didn’t have a chance, though.

  19. 19
    slc1

    Re Raging Bee @ #15

    It is my information that Huntsman is a cultural Mormon but, unlike Rmoney, doesn’t buy into much of the Mormon theology. In this sense, he is closer to Romney pere then Romney fils.

  20. 20
    democommie

    “We used to be the party that put out wars: Eisenhower, Korea; Nixon, Vietnam; Reagan, the Cold War.”.

    In Korea, a state of war still exists.

    Nixon pulled us out of Vietnam in a rather chaotic manner and then successive administrations punished the Vietnamese for winning the war and uniting their country*.

    The “cold war” ended, after years of stalemate and we then let the former soviet republics go in whichever direction they might go. Think Azerbaijan, Kyrgistan, Uzbekistan and the rest–sorta like the former colonies in Africa but with a lot better chance of getting their hands on a Nu-Q-Lar game changer.

    When, after nearly 50 years of soviet domination, the Balkans and other countries were finally freed of their yoke the west who had been egging them on (think budapest, 1956 or Prague, 1968) to secure freedom did pretty much the same thing that they had done in those instances, allowing them to find the bottom economically and watch a number of them return to dictatorial forms of government all too quickly.

    I had just returned from my USAF posting in Germany when the 1968 election was about to happen. My brother and a number of his college age friends were still sweating the draft early in the year. I’m not sure when the lottery was conducted but they were all, as of that moment safe. They were all going to vote for George McGovern until Nixon announced that he had a “plan” for ending the war. They then explained that Nixon had better ideas about the economy (I never saw the slightest evidence that Nixon knew a fucking thing about the business world) and they were switching their allegiance. I told them that they were being fucking idiots–not that it mattered to them.

    “We can argue on the amount of credit, and blame if you’re a hawk, President Nixon deserves vs. the efforts of others, e.g., liberal Democrats, Henry Kissinger”

    Dr. Kissinger is scum. I would piss on his grave except that I hate standing in long lines.

    * Pro-communist I am not but let’s not swallow that bullshit that we could have defeated the Viet Cong or North Vietnam–unless of course we were willing to kill the majority of the Vietnamese in the process. They all DO look alike, because they are alike.

  21. 21
    Michael Heath

    Raging Bee writes:

    It remains to be seen whether or not he will go the way of Steve Forbes, John McCain, and too many other “moderates” who get unfairly trashed by the far right,

    I’ve never encountered anyone claiming Steve Forbes was a moderate. From my perspective he’s a conservative in the very same spirit as George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. That was a spoiled rich kid who was conservative because he felt entitled and was also incapable of appreciating the collective effort that resulted in their good fortune. That was best expressed by, I believe, Molly Ivins about W., “he as born on third base thinking he’d hit a triple“. We saw Forbes and Romney express this very attitude when it comes to distinguishing between so-called givers and takers.

    And those who described Sen. McCain as a moderate only demonstrated their ignorance regarding the country’s political compass and Sen. McCain’s voting record. He was and remains, from a normative perspective, a perfect example of a mainstream conservative.

    Raging Bee writes:

    PS: Is Huntsman a Mormon? If so, how do most Mormons feel about his mistreatment in the PoG primaries?

    During the campaign the reports coming out from those following Mr. Huntsman on the campaign trail described him and his family as cultural Mormons, not devout practicing Mormons like Mr. Romney and his family.

  22. 22
    jws1

    “…contributed to the U.S.’s inability to optimally compete (though businesses also contributed)…”

    I like you, but I bet that parenthetical part was an afterthought that you had to physically force yourself to type, as your hands’ muscle memory likely does not include phrases approaching “business can hurt itself without help from govt.”

  23. 23
    Michael Heath

    Me earlier:

    “…contributed to the U.S.’s inability to optimally compete (though businesses also contributed)…”

    jws1 writes:

    I like you, but I bet that parenthetical part was an afterthought that you had to physically force yourself to type, as your hands’ muscle memory likely does not include phrases approaching “business can hurt itself without help from govt.”

    Not even close. I’ve long held the position that management never had to sign the union agreements which clearly threatened the future viability of their enterprise, as we’ve encountered in the auto industry. Much like conservatives think only within the period when they’re up for re-election, business leaders in the 1940s through mid-1970s failed to consider the onerous costs they were adding to their products in the future. In spite of knowing back then their oligopoly would face competition from other countries.

    For example, when unions came to the table demanding better healthcare benefits, the prudent thing for businesses to do back then is benchmark best practices in other countries; just like they do other weighty issues. Their logical response would have then been to lobby for universal healthcare which wasn’t financed by employers but instead by taxing either consumption or income.

    And when unions came to the table for higher pay, businesses could have responded with incentives that indexed their union members pay to the success factors of the company and the total compensation packages of management. Such an approach would also provided leverage to eradicate so many union work-rules which made it more difficult to continually improve the operation as the Japanese were already doing and the unions in the U.S. were resisting.

  24. 24
    jws1

    Ok. Thank you. My liking is further justified.

  25. 25
    caseloweraz

    Huntsman: “…compromise cannot be seen as analogous to treason…”

    Republican campaigning has become reprehensible not just because of its nature (refusing to admit the existence of facts and, as Huntsman says, equating compromise with treason) but because of its duration. Scott McClellan wrote of the “permanent campaign” in his book.

    And now we see the 2016 campaign beginning before the winner of the 2012 election is even sworn into office.

  26. 26
    Raging Bee

    I’ve never encountered anyone claiming Steve Forbes was a moderate.

    In one primary cycle, he was a mainly pro-business Republican (that’s what passes for “moderate” in the PoG), who got trashed by the far right over his wish that the abortion issue would “disappear.” Then he came back in the next cycle as a “me too” born-again right-wing anti-choice extremist.

    (PS: Note that I used the word “moderate” in quotes.)

  27. 27
    d.c.wilson

    A few months back, Boehner was asked in an interview if the republicans would be more willing to compromise with the democrats. He couldn’t even bring himself to say the word outloud for fear of the purists. Huntsman has diagnosed the problem, but I don’t see any solutions in the near future.

    I think things in the GOP are going to get even worse before they get better.

  28. 28
    schweinhundt

    Here’s my advice for the GOP: Require your candidates to understand evolution. Folks like Huntsman would have a shot at getting the nomination and your party would have a chance of winning in 2016. http://www.politico.com/multimedia/video/2012/11/messina-huntsman-would-have-been-tough-candidate.html

  29. 29
    Ichthyic

    Here’s a conservative god whose record demonstrated a commitment to compromise:

    …the same man who turned in his fellow actors to the McCarthy commission.

  30. 30
    Ichthyic

    And those who described Sen. McCain as a moderate only demonstrated their ignorance regarding the country’s political compass and Sen. McCain’s voting record. He was and remains, from a normative perspective, a perfect example of a mainstream conservative.

    He did sound off a bit like Hunstman during the GoP convention in 2000, trying to sound a warning about the results of kowtowing to the religious right, but after seeing what that got him (branded as a traitor and a failed nomination), he did indeed quickly align himself “correctly” from then on.

    I mean, how can you call someone a moderate that is trying to wreck the nomination of Rice by this witch hunt over Benghazi?

    McCain puzzles me… what has he got left to prove?

  31. 31
    Ichthyic

    One was that during this time liberals and conservatives in the Democratic party repeatedly demonstrated an inability to competently govern.

    Frankly, I would warn people here not to trust your view of history on this issue, but to examine it themselves.

  32. 32
    democommie

    This:

    “I had just returned from my USAF posting in Germany when the 1968 election was about to happen. My brother and a number of his college age friends were still sweating the draft early in the year.”

    Was meant to read as the election of 1972. I have fired my ghostwriter.

  33. 33
    jaybee

    Democommie said:

    Dr. Kissinger is scum. I would piss on his grave except that I hate standing in long lines.

    Except that Kissinger’s grave is currently unoccupied.

  34. 34
    katenrala

    @ 20 democommie

    Dr. Kissinger is scum. I would piss on his grave except that I hate standing in long lines.

    For some reason I always think of Edward Teller when I hear Kissinger’s name.

    Teller is a man who needs his grave pissed and shat on by a cat, followed by a dog rolling in the waste then leaving its own mess behind too.

    Teller is one of those people who is the epitome of evil in my mind.

    But yeah, Kissinger needs his grave defiled too.

    I apologize for getting so angry with you democommie, there are some topics I am highly passionately angry about because they matter a great deal to me and I can get easily set off about them.

  35. 35
    democommie

    Katenrala:

    Your apology is not required. I freely admit to being an asshole at times (some folks say, most of the time). I too am passionate and occassionally am correct when being so.

    As for Jaybee re: Kissinger. I am well aware that he’s not yet dead–we all have to face disappointment in our lives, his remaining among the living is one that I accept–mostly because I’m pretty sure that he’s not immortal.

  36. 36
    dingojack

    jaybee – yes but Kissinger’s grave already has a huge queue –
    in anticipation of the long-awaited and joyous event.
    Dingo

  37. 37
    democommie

    dingojack:

    Why stand waiting in queue for Kissinger to croak; why not just have an “app” for it? You tap in your bona fides and contact info and they let you know when you’re getting close to the head of the line.

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