So, it turns out Jon Huntsman doesn’t actually speak “fluent” Mandarin. He can apparently garble his way through, which is way more than I will ever be able to do in any language other than English, but this notion pushed by his campaign and by the lazy media that he has mastered the Chinese tongue is apparently hogwash. Upon reading this absurd pseudo-scandal-in-the-making, I was tempted to engage in a full-on facepalm.
But then I considered the subject. As Huntsman was making noises about entering the race for the White House, there were a few things we all took for granted.
Assumption 1: Huntsman will be a credible threat to Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination.
This has been exploded, of course, as in every poll save a few late New Hampshire surveys, Huntsman has struggled to eke out 1%. He made it all the way to 10% in New Hampshire, but given that Romney is polling at about a billion percent, and that Huntsman is still scraping his way to Ron Paul territory even in this state, we can safely say that not only will Huntsman not win New Hampshire and not win the nomination, but that he will have largely been forgotten when the history of this period is written.
Assumption 2: Huntsman is a super-charasmatic figure who looks and sounds the part of president.
Seen any debates lately? If his performances during these bizarre events have had any lasting impression, it has been for his unbearably bad attempts at humor and levity. His jokes have not only bombed, but made folks uncomfortable. His pop culture references have confused his target audience (for example, making a vague Nirvana reference in an early debate before the Tea Party). And his announcement speech, so intensely anticipated by the mainstream media? Let’s just say he gave Pawlenty a run for his money as most boring Republican. Huntsman has come off looking the part of president only if we’re talking about president of the AV club.
Assumption 3. Republicans will initially reject Huntsman for having been a member of Barack Obama’s administration.
We never got to test this theory out. See Assumptions 1 and 2. In other words, he’s performed so abysmally that there’s yet been no reason to reject him on anything more substantial.
And so Huntsman has now dashed what would be Assumption 4, that he has in fact been honest about his ability to speak Mandarin. But look at the first three. There is no reason to be surprised that part of Huntsman’s reason for being seen as a credible candidate (at one point) has fallen apart, because they all have.
And I will admit that it’s a shame. I’ve “endorsed” Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination because as much as I loathe him, I know that he’d be the least dangerous of the “viable” Republican options (meaning Perry and Cain as of now). Huntsman would not only have been an even better choice from my perspective (thanks to his embrace of reality in some key areas), but there was once something in me that thought that even as a Republican, he might not make such a bad president, even compared to Obama.
I no longer think this. And I suspect that pretty much nothing else that goes wrong with his spectacularly terrible campaign will surprise me.
Save your facepalms, put the breaks on that headdesk. If you must act out, simply shake your head, gently, as it hangs at an ever-so-slight angle.