Friday, May 13, 2011

Jon Huntsman: Diplomat and Almost 2012 Candidate Looks Better Than GOP Presidentiables, Expect Poison Arrows That Way

2012 Republican Presidential CandidatesImage by DonkeyHotey via FlickrNow -- who would do something like this and why?

McKay Coppins of Newsweek and The Daily Beast recently wrote that Huntsman's 2012 Buzz Caused Friction With Obama Team. Quick excerpts below:

An embassy official who worked closely with Huntsman in Beijing told The Daily Beast that the last few months of the ambassador’s tenure were marked by friction with the White House. After a January Newsweek article set off a flurry of speculation that Huntsman would make a bid for the presidency, the Obama administration began taking aggressive measures to ensure that Huntsman wouldn’t be able to use his appointment for 2012 posturing, said the official, requesting anonymity to discuss internal matters.

“Once the resignation was submitted, politics probably became much more of a question mark, and it was tense,” the official said. “On the embassy side, there was suspicion that [Huntsman] was being subjected to greater scrutiny than he would have otherwise been.”

According to the official, who was not a political appointee, the administration began micromanaging Huntsman’s schedule, canceling media appearances and carefully vetting his public remarks. The source specifically noted a major education speech in Shanghai that was heavily scrutinized by administration officials “to make sure it was kosher.”
“He was very upset when people began to question his commitment to the job, that people would question his character like that,” said the embassy official, who added that he never saw Huntsman put his own career ahead of his ambassadorial duties. “I’m sure he wished he had only agreed to stay another two weeks after he submitted his resignation, but he stuck through it.”
Read in full here.

Note that political ambassadors are almost always the only political appointee in an embassy. Members of the staff are career officers, occasional civil servants, family members on temp hiring authorities and then there's the local staff.

Makes one wonder what motivates an embassy official to speak to a reporter about the background noise of the ambassador's departure -- are we seeing the tweaks to set the record straight, or are we watching the hansel n' gretel cookie crumbing, in case Mr. Huntsman lands in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2012?  Can't say.  The description of working "closely with Huntsman" could mean many things. The official could be a staff aide, though not likely, or a member of the country team, or an officer in the Political or Econ section, or a front office functionary. Did I miss the other usual suspects who works in close proximity for an ambassador?

Last week, the former Ambassador to China reportedly met with South Carolina Republicans as he was finalizing the decision about a possible presidential run.  CNN reported that Ambassador Huntsman's remarks to the group was focused on "his family, his tenure in China and his accomplishments as governor of Utah and received glowing reviews from several Republicans in the room, who spoke anonymously because they did not want to be named discussing a private meeting."
"The consensus was, 'Holy crap this guy looks like a president,'" said one person who was there. "I have never seen anybody sweep into this state so quickly so fast and get as much accomplished in 48 hours as Huntsman has done."
"From my conversations with a few others in attendance and glances around the room, his remarks were well-received," another Republican source told CNN. "One person who had never met him before remarked, 'I liked him better than anyone I've seen.'"

Holy crap he makes the other presidentiables look -- what? um, like they forgot something?

As the Atlantic Wire points out, the former ambassador and former Utah Governor is not only Republican but also good-looking and rich and does super chill things like ride motorcycles and play in bands.  More here from the Atlantic Wire.

I can't imagine Newt on a Harley, can you? TiPaw or Da Donald in a band, oh, plueeze!

I must add that the former ambassador is not only good looking, he also has perfect hair that does not look like a bird's nest.  And perfect teeth.  And a nice smile that does not look like he's after that bone and you're on the way.  The other presidentiables, frankly have too much gummy smiles (almost desperate), or too contrite over past mistakes (also desperate).  Mr. Huntsman has the demeanor of a statesman, even when slightly jeered in a Beijing rally. I don't know him but he sounds smart and seems also like-able. Above all he does not seem to be carrying 18,000 lbs of eligible family member personal baggage, on stage and off stage.

I have to agree with the 'Holy crap this guy looks like a president' comment.  I mean, true, 2012 is a lifetime away and the GOP base presumably will not be looking for a moderate. But they also have to decide on what is more important to them, electability or a megaphone with lots of noise.    

I can imagine Mr. Huntsman on a Harley, in a band, and frankly, even in the White House.  If he runs, expect more pointed questions on loyalty and religion, and oh gosh, what? - he lived in China for two years, did he shake their hands, too and pal around with commies? (ya, our third largest trading partner after the EU and Canada is Communist China).  Um, wait- where was he born again and does he have the long form birth certificate? His hair is too perfect, are you sure he's not a Chinese clone?

There are folks looking under rocks, make that under every rock as we move closer to 2012.  


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