Jon Huntsman enters the race and falls in the forest

If Jon Huntsman were to enter a presidential race and fall in the forest, would he make a sound?

Mr. Huntsman is tall, has good hair, and is inoffensive. Yet that is only three out of the four qualities necessary for him to be elected. The fourth issue is the one question that I am not sure he answered in his introductory press conference. Maybe I blinked and missed it, but something seems unknown to me.

Why is he running?

I have nothing against the man. He seems affable enough. Yet every other candidate running has a clear rationale for running.

Mitt Romney is the front-runner. He is the businessman who will focus on the economy. He was a successful governor in the most liberal state in the country.

Tim Pawlenty is the successful governor of a liberal state.

Both of these men already fill the tall, good hair, inoffensive quota.

Mr. Huntsman was considered a good chief executive running Utah, but with all due respect, that is a much easier job. Utah is the most conservative state in America. He had a friendly legislature. This was not the same as what Chris Christie has to go through. That is not Mr. Huntsman’s fault, but his job was to not mess things up, and he succeeded.

Rick Santorum is the socially conservative candidate.

Michele Bachmann  and Herman Cain both bring diversity to the race in addition to successful careers as entrepreneurs. Congresswoman Bachmann ran a tax service while Mr. Cain ran a major pizza chain.

Ron Paul brings a foreign policy approach that differs from the interventionist wing of the GOP. I totally disagree with him, but he does fit a niche.

Newt Gingrich brings the intellectual heft. He is the ultimate policy wonk. His campaign has been besieged with staff defections but that does not diminish his distinguished career. He did play a major role in helping the GOP gain the House after 40 years in the minority.

Even the fringe candidates have told us why they want the job. Gary Johnson wants to legalize drugs and Fred Karger wants to legalize gay marriage.

The only thing even political junkies outside of Utah may know about Governor Huntsman is that he is the son of a billionaire. His father is friends with Glenn Beck.

There is not a single angle to Mr. Huntsman that appears unique.

Is he the Mormon candidate? Mitt Romney has that covered.

Is he the Mr. Rogers candidate? Tim Pawlenty has that down. Bill O’Reilly compared Pawlenty to Bob Newhart, but Pawlenty is like Herman Cain in the fire department compared to Huntsman.

None of this is meant to denigrate Mr. Huntsman, and I regret that it appears this way. Yet a person who announces their candidacy needs to tell us why we specifically need them.

His billion dollars makes him an automatic player, but I am not sure what his record of success is. He was the Ambassador to China, which means he most likely learned how to bend over.

The race still does not have a Southerner. With Haley Barbour opting out, Rick Perry is eyeing the race. Perry is bragging about creating half of the jobs in the nation. Huntsman does not have the other half.

There is still room for a foreign policy candidate to enter the race. Both Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton are weighing runs. Right now economics is dominating the race, but a foreign policy crisis could change things in a heartbeat.

It seems that Huntsman may want to run as a liberal Republican. Yet he is socially conservative.

By coming across as a nice guy, Huntsman could become the darling of the liberal media. He will be one of the “good” Republicans as opposed to all those mean, evil, nasty Republicans who dare to be conservative. For those who think this will benefit him in any way, remember John McCain. The media lamented that he changed, but this is nonsense. Once he became a threat to Barack Zeus Obama, McCain was considered as evil as any right-winger. Huntsman would be demonized in the general election as quickly as he may be adored by the left now.

Jon Huntsman comes across as a decent, calm, thoughtful man. Yet if he is going to run for the highest office in the land, he needs to let us know why he wants the job.

If his plan is to just be a calm, likable technocrat, that strategy does not work. Ideology and vision defeat competence every single time.

Maybe after four years of speeches, a calm sober adult could win the job. Yet even calm adults need to inspire people. When a man is too generic to appear on the cover of the fictional “Average Non-Descript White Guy Monthly” magazine, that is problematic.

I cannot think of a single bad thing to say about Jon Huntsman. I was just at the Utah GOP Convention, and he seems to be a respected individual.

There is plenty of time for him to tell his story to the American people. Yet time goes by fast, and in a crowded field, the ability to gain traction starts with name recognition.

Mr. Huntsman may just be the calm, normal guy from across the street (with a billion dollars of course).

That is not enough. He needs to tell us who he is. It is not up to us to guess.


One Response to “Jon Huntsman enters the race and falls in the forest”

  1. I definitely see where you’re coming from, but I think Huntsman does have an angle – a unique counter-Obama position. He actually worked for the president. He knows the ins and outs of the administration, it’s trade and foreign policy, etc. He also has an understanding of China that is beyond a previous president who was also once ambassador to China – a certain GWH Bush. China IS the world’s new superpower. Huntsman has a unique background there.

    He’s not a darling of the far right, though, and that will hurt him. In the end, I don’t think the far right is going to pick the nominee this year. Mainstream GOP voters have had enough with them. They’re getting beyond annoying. They want another Reagan. Not some mythical “conservative candidate” who can’t win, and has never really been nominated anyway.

    Just look at the ’08 election – Palin’s name on the ticket was enough to keep countless thousands of mainstream Republicans home, while driving the Center and Left out to vote for the alternative.

    The GOP would do well to pay attention to Huntsman. He has some history behind him.


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