Jon Huntsman is the Perfect Republican Candidate

Jon Huntsman is the Perfect Republican Candidate

“New Hampshire Republicans and undeclared voters who want to field a candidate with broad appeal and the capability and credibility to have a shot at beating President Obama have three choices: putative frontrunner Mitt Romney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, and diplomat and two-term Utah governor Jon Huntsman. The choice of Huntsman should be clear,” write the editors of the Concord Monitor.

Huntsman does indeed appear to be a sober, competent politician. He’s a moderate on social issues (at least as liberal as Obama so far as I can tell), a staunch fiscal conservative, and has detailed a smart, forward-thinking plan for the future of American foreign policy that’s at once far more clear-headed than anything we’ve seen in recent years from the GOP and still manages to avoid the pitfalls of Ron Paul’s somewhat more drastic return to non-interventionism. I’m not sure Huntsman could be smeared so easily with the isolationism tar brush.

Huntsman’s detailed financial reform plan gives Too Big to Fail a quick death. This should give him broad cross-over appeal between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party. The former Utah governor is hardly a radical, however. He’s no gold-bug, yet he remains firmly in the free market camp.

As politically important, Huntsman has no (known) baggage either in the form of racist old newsletters or flip-flopping a la Newt Romney (to borrow from Mrs. Bachmann.) He’s been a consistent conservative who has not flinched from his more socially liberal positions on gay rights and global warming.

While he certainly may have botched his entrance into the GOP race, he’s still probably the best thing the GOP could hope for in a candidate. Imperfect on the culture wars, true, but strong on fiscal matters. And perhaps the culture wars are a doomed fight for social conservatives anyways. I still think social conservatism has a better chance at survival by taking Rod Dreher’s advice and working outside of politics.

In any case, Huntsman and Ron Paul are both gaining momentum in New Hampshire while Gingrich slowly slips back into the hole he dug for himself in the 90’s. But Mitt Romney remains leaps and bounds ahead of both candidates. It seems unlikely that either will have time to surpass the former Massachusetts governor in time for the January 10th primary which is coming up fast.

Still, Huntsman has picked up some endorsements, is going on the offensive, and is campaigning hard. He has none of Mitt, Newt, or Paul’s baggage (that we know of) and is mostly bogged down by voters’ lack of familiarity with him. Either he’s positioning himself for a 2016 bid, or he’s got some trick up his sleeve. We’ll know soon enough.

So why did I come out in favor of Ron Paul instead of Huntsman? After all, Huntsman wants to cut defense spending, get out of Afghanistan, and leans toward non-interventionism. He’s socially fairly liberal.

I suppose the reason is because Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are quite radical proponents of peace, whereas Huntsman remains fairly centrist on most issues. Even on foreign policy, I suspect Huntsman would be far more prone to becoming entangled in a Libya-style operation. In many respects he reminds me of the current president. Why vote for the devil we don’t know over the devil we do? Obama is perhaps a left-leaning moderate, but he hews to the center for the most part. I may admire Huntsman’s brand of conservatism, but I lean left myself. If I were a Republican and wanted to reform the Republican party or if I were still interested in reforming the conservative movement, Huntsman might be just the ticket.

But I’m not a Republican and I no longer feel any investment in the future of the conservative movement outside of a diminishing hope that someday the conservative movement will repair itself and present a smart, competent alternative to Democrats and progressivism in this country. Balance is important, but when one side is so off the rails no balance can exist. (Indeed, in many senses the obstructionism and games Republicans have played for the past three years have made government even more a part of our day to day lives, dragging the whole damn country into each tiny budget fight until we’re all just exhausted by it. Enough already!)

I would not fear a Huntsman presidency. A part of me thinks having a Republican in the White House would sober up the GOP in congress and then maybe, finally, we’d get something done.

 

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127 thoughts on “Jon Huntsman is the Perfect Republican Candidate

    • I think judging from his other statements on Iran and Afghanistan that Huntsman is probably at least partially playing up to the base with this stuff. He can’t afford to look weak on defense, not having staked out the niche Paul has staked out for himself. He is playing the realist-but-still-tough-on-defense card here. But yeah, I think he’s probably close to Obama in many ways.

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  1. “that someday the conservative movement will repair itself”

    Is it broken? Or does it simply disagree with you about certain things? This seems like an important distinction. I disagree with Communists, but I don’t think Communism is broken in any sense. So waiting for it to somehow mend itself seems like a waste of time.

    I don’t like fancy pizza places. For whatever reason. Meaning I have a different culinary point of view from the owners of such establishments. These restaurants are not broken. They just serve something I don’t like. It’s not like the ovens don’t work and they have to close down for a few days until they are repaired.

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    • No, this isn’t some question of aesthetics. This isn’t about whether you and I disagree about the sort of restaurant we like to eat at. Look at the people the GOP is floating for their presidential nominee and then tell me with a straight face that the conservative movement isn’t broken. I’m sorry, but you’re just way off the mark on this one.

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      • “Look at the people the GOP is floating for their presidential nominee and then tell me with a straight face that the conservative movement isn’t broken.”

        I do say that with a straight face. I don’t think the movement is broken. I think it is wrong. They have not considered nominating people like Gingrich because there was a mistake or a blunder. They are considering people like Gingrich because he offers a reasonably close version of the person they want to vote for.

        I would call something like the libertarian Party “broken.” It generally knows what it is, but has a hard time manipulating itself onto ballots and getting its message across. When it does get its message across, people tend not to like the content.

        But the GOP? It ain’t broken. It’s a well oiled, perfectly balanced machine. And so is the “Conservative Movement.” It is successful far beyond what it deserves to be. It’s punchinng above its weight. It’s a wonder of organization and effectiveness.

         I just happen to disagree with it.

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    • The more accurate comparison would be to a restaurant that advertises that they do a specific type of food — Chicago style deep dish pizza, for example — yet when people go to that restaurant they are serving everything from fried chicken to sushi, and responding to anyone pointing this discrepancy out by saying of the STL style thin crust pizza place across the street that “they don’t know real pizza”.

      That’s the problem with the conservative movement. It concentrates so much on what it’s against that what it’s for is a contradictory mess.

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      • Perhaps we shouldn’t conflate conservatism and Republicanism. As I understand conservatism (and I’m far from an expert), there are certain tenets I am fully on board with. There are few, if any, elements of the mainstream Republican platform that I can agree with.

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        • And yet part of the problem with the Republican-slash-“Conservative” line right now is that there IS no room for compromises, no room for consensus building, no room for anything but the “our way or the highway” mentality.

          It’s what makes me laugh any time the question of “conservative principles” comes up, because the “conservatism” they insist is all important involves taking half the party out back and shooting them in a RINO-hunt. That and the fact that even their great golden-calf idol, “Ronald Reagan”, would be counted a RINO if any of them bothered to look up his actual policies and speeches.

          So yes both the Republican Party, and the “conservative movement”, are fundamentally broken.

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      • “yet when people go to that restaurant they are serving everything from fried chicken to sushi”

        OK. But if people keep eating the food and keep coming back to spend their money despite the false advertising, that’s not a broken restaurant. It’s a wildly successful restaurant. If it’s so successful, in fact, that no other restaurants can open on the block despite all the complaints, due to lack of business for other restaurants… in what world would the restaurant owner change his menu? Why would he change his approach? His approach works?

        You can say the Olive Garden is a terrible restaurant all you want. But to call it broken when there are lines stretched around the block, you have to be nuts. They just happen to make food you don’t like. You might want to live in a world in which people don’t stand in line for that food, but you don’t live in such a world.

        If the Conservative Movement is broken, how do you explain the tens of millions of people who contuinue to vote for Conservative candidates?

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      • That Mitt doesn’t hate Republicans?  EDK, one of the few virtues of the two-party system is the consensus/coalition-building dimension.  First, you gotta unify your own, admittedly a tall order for Romney but an impossibility for Huntsman, who doesn’t even try.

        Barack Obama unified his party, and handily beat McCain, who didn’t.  I’m OK with that.  You can’t pull guys out of left field like Kerry or Huntsman, or win with guys like Gore, who turned his back on Clinton, a successful brand.

        Actually, my mischievous thought about the OP is that it got it backwards—it’s the Democrats who need a centrist like Huntsman to reform them and recapture the party from the McGovern wing.  I miss my old Democrats.

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        • Huntsman was wildly popular in deep, deep Red Utah. I don’t think he hates Republicans. But I think he made that impression – hence the “botched” line up above.

          Is Obama not a centrist? If not, what steps would a centrist Democrat need to take? I mean, Obama is basically a Clinton-ite, isn’t he? They were very centrist. Personally, I think we need more George H.W. Bush’s in the GOP. The Dems are pretty much centrist already.

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          • Sorry, EDK.  As I wrote to one of our visitors, those who criticize BHO from his left think he’s too centrist, therefore discussions with anyone to the right of them have never been fruitful here LoOG.

            BHO is “centrist” only in that losing the House in 2010 prevented him from furthering his agenda.  people aren’t even aware of the fallout coming from obamacare if we don’t reverse it.

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/sallypipes/2011/12/26/doctors-say-obamacare-is-no-remedy-for-u-s-health-woes/

            I could turn your question back on you: if there’s no substantive difference between Romney and Huntsman and you think Huntsman’s so great, why not Mitt?

            [Nyah-hah-hah, he said, twirling the ends of his moustache.]

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              • Not that I have any desire to defend Romney, of whom my opinion is roughly what it was 4 years ago when I viewed him as the worst option in a bad field (though I view him as the least-bad option with a realistic chance at the nomination this time around!), but…..do we really expect anything short of “lots of lying” from our politicians?  It strikes me as more likely that, as Blaise says below, “Huntsman is what Romney was” than that Huntsman is inherently less dishonest than Romney.

                The larger part of Romney’s problem, it seems, is that he’s not very good at lying.

                 

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                • So Huntsman is presumptively as dishonest as Romney because he’s a politician, so he’s likely, when all is said and done, to have told as many lies as Romney, even if he hasn’t yet?  That doesn’t seem like a good argument to me.

                  Incidentally, I don’t know how many lies are actually on Romney’s record.  What is on his record is a fluid willingness to openly and honestly change his stated beliefs and positions (drastically) as his ambition dictates.  The result is that few people, conservatives especially, trust that they will get from him anything that looks very much like he says they will (which is not to say that they won’t in this instance – but who really knows?).  This is something that can result from being caught in lies as well, but here it results from an open, honest lack of commitment to principles.

                  Jon Huntsmann may be little less dishonest than Mitt Romney (though if this is the case, it must be because he actually has as many whoppers on his record as Mitt (and Mitt has a few), not because he’s a politician therefore he must simply be dishonest to a similar degree).  But he doesn’t have the same problem with lack of trust that Mitt has earned himself not with dishonesty but with inconsistency.

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                • Mr. Drew, Obama lies like a fish.  This isn’t even an issue in the greater scheme of things, just an excuse and a smokescreen.  A majority of the American people [incl most of the litigants on this] would vote for a great and proven liar, Bill Clinton, tomorrow.

                  And I wouldn’t blame them.  But let’s get real.  Mr. Kain stumbled upon it, that Romney is a shitty liar.  Now that’s real.

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                  • You’re right, Tom. As I was trying to suggest, inability to convince that that you will reliably work to advance what you are telling people you support is almost always going to be a greater obstacle to earning people’s votes than putting on your recrod a demonstrated willingness to lie in the service of advancing shared priorities.

                    At the same time, that does not mean that all politicians are equally dishonest.

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                    • I’m not successfully sorting my way through yr reply, Mr. Drew.  But I remain either uncynical or realistic: I don’t think anyone’s successfully made his way to the presidency just by lying.  I respect all the nominees we’ve come up with. [Although I admit problems with Kerry and Gore as credible persons.  They’re weird.]

                      Clinton, OK.  President Carter did the best he could.  [His post-presidency, ecch.]  Of the losers, Dole, Dukakis, Mondale, all good men.  Ford.  Humphrey.  Adlai Stevenson.  George McGovern—good man.  Even Goldwater turned out to be not an unreasonable man.  [Nixon?  Well, Nixon was Nixon.]

                      I’m certainly a critic of President Obama, but I don’t question his basic honesty or decency, question for a moment that he’s a good man.

                       

                       

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              • And BHO isn’t?  C’mon, EDK.  We’re getting into a quoque calculus here that has no end.  In fact, you turned one good eye and one blind eye to Ron Paul, who is simply not presidential material.  I’d vote for Obama before Paul.  This is all over the map.

                But it would be interesting to see your case why Huntsman’s all that different from Romney, since your original premise was that, conservatively speaking, he’s not.  And even if so, since Romney’s already in the driver’s seat, I see no reason to prefer Huntsman.

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                • Tom, I read the link, and it seems like a fair summary of the GOP-sanctioned view of foreign aid: that it should remain an open question whether any particular country receives it.

                  I don’t think there’s anything dishonest there. It just seems like the obvious logical conclusion of another poorly thought out GOP talking point.

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                  • A ridiculous conclusion, Mr. Stillwater, since the GOP cozies up to Israel far more than the Dems of late.  But it was a quick example: there are scores of BHO lies on record.  Not that I’m making a big deal out of them either: it goes with the territory, admittedly a blemish on a candidate, but not significant enough to actually alter one’s vote.

                    At least IMO: that Romney put out a dishonest campaign ad, so I’m voting for Obama instead.  I’m just not buying that one.

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                    • Heh.   But you’re voting for Romney even though he’s a pathetic liar.   I am put in mind of the disciples of Jesus, especially Peter, denying his Lord before some servant girl.

                      The GOP is a collection of feebs and catamitic wussies, completely in thrall to the Radio Bloviators.   Say it ain’t so.

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                    • BlaiseP:

                      “Balloon Juice?   That spittle-flecked haunt of weak thinkers and tendentious mantra repeaters?   Where “fuck” and “shitty” are still considered clever?”

                      That quite a statement considering some of your past spittle-flecked vitriolic rants.

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                    • Yeah, it is.  Ol’ Tomas is trying to say I’d get thrown out of Balloon Juice for my pejorative ways.   I’m the goddamned Self-Proclaimed and Unashamed Emperor of Pejorative and Invective, Rex et Basileus and I don’t piddle around in sad little echo chambers anymore.   Erik Kain intrigues me, which is why I’m here.   He’s got real promise as a writer and I have yet to come to terms with Libertarians as a species since I concluded Murray Rothbard was a fatuous innumerate and I consider that ignorance a personal deficiency because a philosophy is more than its dead philosophers, it’s its living advocates.  I can forgive the Libertarians Ayn Rand.   I don’t forgive them Murray Rothbard either but I figure I ought to give them another chance.   There are more good writers around here than E.D.   Elias Isquith, Alex Knapp.   There are some first-rate neurons firing here.

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                    • Words are important, Tom. I’m not trying to play semantics, here, but you make a sweeping claim to his ideological leaning, and I just don’t see what you’re seeing.

                      I guess I’m not seeing the Euro-left social-democrat thing. Social-democratic parties have pretty specific platforms, and for the most part, Obama’s basically a Gaulist or a Lib-Dem at best.

                      Certainly he’s far to the right of most Europeans particularly in the use of force category.

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                  • Mr. Akimoto, our lefties claim Obama as center or even right-of-center!  let’s deal with the absurdities before we split the hairs.

                    You may be correct per your specific examples: a “Christian Democrat” ala Merkel, then?  Regardless, we’re down to hair-splitting.  He’s to the left of New Labour, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton’s “Third Way.”  You’ll find some talk from Obama about how America is different from the Eurostates; what is lacking is anything in policy that is away from gov’t growth and regulation in that American way. You’ll notice that nobody’s offering up examples of his direct opposition to leftish proposals.  That’s because there aren’t any or many.  What we he oppose on the social democrat agenda?  Where is his “Third Way” neo-liberalism that encourages business and growth?  I have no idea.

                    As for Obama and military force, it’s tough to say what he would do with a clean slate.  American presidents find themselves obliged to go along with the consensus: it’s hard to think of an example where an American president really bucked that consensus.

                    I do think he’s played with fire [mostly by inaction] during the Arab spring, and I fear his repeating Jimmy Carter’s blunder on the Shah with Yemen as we speak.  I expect that Yemen will be a major burr under the civilized world’s butt in the next decade, if Egypt isn’t a bigger one.

                    BHO follows the path of least resistance–Obamacare was muscled in by the McGovern wing in Congress, Pelosi in particular being unmistakably part of it.  He has largely followed Bush43’s policies on the Islamo-terrorism thing.  He “led from behind” on NATO’s war on Qaddafi.  He withheld even tacit support for Iran’s dissidents, and lent it to Egypt’s.  How much he would “tax the rich” is unknown: what is his limit?  He will not say.  How far would he take his “green” ideology if unchecked?  Again, we do not know.

                    We [and I mean me here] can only hope that we don’t get the chance to find out, that he is re-elected and regains control of Congress.

                    But that’s my own mishigas.  For the purposes of this discussion, I just want to call a shovel a shovel.  The complaint from our own social democrat left [here LoOG!] is that BHO doesn’t fight hard enough for their agenda, which I suppose is true.  But there is no evidence he’s not in complete sympathy with it.

                     

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                • Well, there is Romney’s backing away from everything he used to stand for, once upon a time.   Romney’s not in the driver’s seat.  He’s bent over the examining table with Rush Limbaugh’s proctoscope shoved so far up his ass it’s reached his vocal cords.

                   

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                  • President Obama is center-right. The problem is that the GOP has moved so far to the right that they perceive him as a socialist. Which is absurd, and not just because it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what socialism is.

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                    • Obama’s a Euro-left social democrat.  Fortunately, he was thwarted by the 2010 election.  As I said, this vein of discussion is not fruitful here.  We do not agree on the colors of the spectrum.

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                    • Now I’ll tell you what’s a fruitful discussion.   That would involve some original thinking.    Obama is hardly a socialist.  Perhaps you can  define it for us in practical terms.   And while you’re at it, explain the differences between Romneycare and Obamacare.

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                    • Tom, I know you don’t find the issue a fruitful topic of discussion, but I think there’s lots of evidence – of the just payin-attention kind – that the GOP and contemporary conservatives generally identify ‘radical leftism’ with ‘any policy supported by Democrats’. I find that a fruitful topic of discussion because insofar as it’s accurate, it reveals not only to politics of conservatives, but their policy goals as well. The party is fundamentally reactionary, and at the most trivial of levels.

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                    • Yes, Mr. Stillwater, and every right winger is “far” right, and “extreme,” etc.  I don’t pay attention to that crap much.  If you want to argue how Obama differs from yr avg Euro-left social democrat, look me up.

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                    • If you want to argue how Obama differs from yr avg Euro-left social democrat, look me up.

                      It seems to me that the only Euro-lefty policy Obama instituted was pretty much identical to the GOP-endorsed national plan from the 90’s.

                      If you’re saying the GOP of the Clinton years endorsed Euro-left socialism, then maybe we have something else to talk about here. But I think that would confirm my larger point.

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                    • Obama’s hardly a european social-democrat. If he were French, he’d probably be part of the Gaullist successor parties of one stripe or another, if he were German he’d be a Christian Democrat. While I’m of the understanding that Mr. Obama does not like David Cameron personally (who would, really?), he’d probably fit in pretty well with the Tories or the Lib-Dem coalition at present..

                      That is to say, dude’s only Center-Left in American politics by dint of the fact that the American center is much to the right of the European (or in fairness the world in general, outside of maybe the middle east) center.

                      The Oxford Manifesto, for example, which is a bland, perfectly liberal (in the broadest, traditional sense) document, would probably be attacked by “centrist” Republicans today for being too left leaning in some of its language, despite being very pro-free market.

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                    • Consider yourself looked up, Tom.   Can you actually square up Obama’s EuroSocialism with anything but Rush Limbaugh’s say-so?

                      Others have been good enough to put forward a definition of socialism.   Your turn now, to point out how Obamacare is any different than Romneycare.   Turn off the Meme-o-Matic for a while and prove to us how Obama is a big old nasty socialist.   In other countries, Socialist isn’t a dirty word any more than Conservative or Liberal or Libertarian, it’s an adjective, not a noun.   Socialism means this:  not everything worth doing in the world will get done by private enterprise and it ought to get done.

                      Or are we to apply Marxism’s definition of socialism here?   That’s got a specific definition, one much harder to pin on Obama, but you could give it a try.

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                    • Mr. Stillwater, you’re not trying.  First, that’s not the question I asked.  Second, that’s a rather familiar sophistry.

                      Your mission is to argue how BHO differs from yr avg Euro-left social democrat.  [I didn’t call him a “socialist,” BSK, so you are excused from any further participation in this.]

                      We would not want to be disinguenuous about Obamacare resembling a 1990s GOP proposal, Mr. Stillwater: we’d have single-payer [if not a full-on NHS] if Barack Obama could have got it through Congress.

                      2003:

                      I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14% of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.

                      And thank God he was frustrated, first by insufficient support in his own party, then by losing the House in 2010.  That BHO was forced into more centrist compromises by no means says that they were his preference.

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                    • How is Single Payer un-capitalist?   I do health care AI for a living, are you trying to tell me Single Payer isn’t more efficient?    Do you have any concept of what the Law of Large Numbers will do to insurance rates if everyone’s in the life pool?

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                    • Single-payer is about as “euro-left” as I am white, American and Republican.

                      That is to say, not at all.

                      A true euro-left socialist would want something akin to Britain’s NHS, which is a wholly state-owned and operated healthcare system. Other examples are Finland (where municipalities operate hospitals) Denmark, Italy, Sweden, Norway….

                      Single-payer and universal health insurance is a pretty center-right notion, found in places like Germany.

                      Sorry, try harder.

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                    • You too, Nob?  I hadn’t taken you for a sophist, refusing to stipulate to any terms, since your argument lies in the manipulation of terms.

                      Of course I was using the American political spectrum: single-payer does not exist here right of center.  Geez, Europe has a real left–actual out and out Communist parties; France has a Socialist Party to its “right.”

                      As for what BHO would do if he could, the chances are getting better that we will never find out.  But my use elsewhere in this thread of the difference between the “McGovern wing” and the Democratic Leadership Council [now defunct] makes the point just fine.

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              • Because Romney is dishonest.

                The way I look at this is how effective a candidate is at achieving my goals, not how passionately they truly feel about those goals. Romney’s switched his views multiple times, but he’s switched them in-line with the changing GOP wisdom, so Republicans should actually be pretty confident that he’ll represent the opinions they hold popularly. Gingrich, on other hand, switches his views erratically to pander to fringe groups (e.g. “right-wing social engineering”,”the Palestinians are an invented people”), so it’s not at all clear how well he’ll serve the GOP agenda. Huntsman, on the third hand, has been relatively consistent but many of his views are liberal.

                So you’re a Republican voter and you’re picking between the dishonest guy who will sell his soul for your approval, the dishonest guy who is usually a bomb-thrower for your base but sometimes erratic, and the honest guy who frequently takes pleasure in disagreeing with you. I’ll take Huntsman as my bartender but Mitt as my president (as a GOP voter, obviously).

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              • His dishonesty isn’t as disturbing as his mechanical, detached sadism.

                Do y’all know the story about the family vacation where he strapped his dog onto the roof of his family car (in a carrier, but still)….

                He also speaks of wanting more Gitmos and interrogation techniques. He’s just…well not particularly humane.

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                • There is something oddly robot-like about Mitt. He comes off as as lacking any kind of empathy. But he’s stood by his wife through cancer and MS, whereas Newt abandoned Wife 1 (cancer) and Wife 2 (MS) soon after their diagnoses.  So, it seems like there’s some core level of decency to Mitt even if he is emotionally clueless, a core level of decency that Newt lacks.

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              • Horror of horrors, a Republican presidential candidate who has actually achieved a balanced budget in his home state as governor, substantially reduced tax rates, streamlining his state’s income tax system…

                We can’t actually have a Republican who practices what he preaches! Need more hypocrites and hyperbolic super nationalists….

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                • Nob:

                  Sorry, almost every state has to have a balanced budget, so BFD. As for the other things thank the legislature not Huntsman. This is why I find it so amusing that Clinton takes credit for having a balanced budget when it was the Congress that actually passed it.

                  Yes, some Repub candidates have changed their mind on some issues but so what, I would rather have someone that can change their mind as opposed to someone that refuses to.

                   

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                  • States do require balanced budgets by law, but most larger states run substantial deficits that are hidden by all sorts of interesting budgeting gimmicks. Moreover, the process of arriving at a balanced budget during times of budgetary shortfalls include large amounts of horse-trading and negotiations where a governor will serve as a lead negotiator for his party against the other side. It’s a bigger deal than you might think.

                    This is particularly striking when you compare records with other gubernatorial candidates in the GOP primary. For example, Rick Perry despite all his grandstanding has not been able to plug the gaping hole in the Texas general revenue fund, nor has he been willing to dip into the rainy day fund to plug shortfalls. Instead the state republican party has resorted to cutting social services and trying to hide the shortfall through gimmicks which will only prolong the problem into the next legislative session.

                     

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          • “Huntsman was wildly popular in deep, deep Red Utah.”

            It is becoming more and more difficult to reconcile elected officials at the national level (and candidates for those offices), both Democratic and Republican, with the realities of their individual states.  The disconnect can, IMO, be attributed to the fact that at the national level, neither party actually has to govern.  In almost all states, the legislature has to adopt a balanced budget without borrowing by a fixed date.  Except for some of the largest, they manage to do this routinely, reaching the necessary agreements with the folks on the other side of the aisle.  Congress might order something like “reduce federal Medicaid matching by 10%”; at the state level, the legislature has to make hard specific choices about whose benefits will be cut.  Poor children?  Elderly residents in nursing homes?  Developmentally disabled?

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            • Unless of course you have enormous majorities in both houses of the state congress…*coughTexascough*

              The Texas state leg can’t govern itself out of a wet paper bag (of which there are none in Texas because drought conditions are terrible and worsened by non-existent rationing…)

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              • One can certainly disagree with the decisions that Texas has made — and I disagree with some of them — but the legislature there has made the decisions.  It took one or two special sessions, but they passed a budget, as required — something that Congress hasn’t managed for how long?  Size seems to matter; California, Texas, New York and Illinois, four of the five most populous states, seem to have similar difficulties.  I live in a medium-sized state with the two chambers at the Statehouse split between the two parties, and the decisions get made without either side digging in, in contrast to the House and Senate at the national level.

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                • I don’t really agree they made the hard decisions, so much as kicked a lot of stuff down the road, but I suppose you’re right.

                  Size however isn’t as important as structure, I think. California for example has a state system where a minority party can obstruct. The US Congress does, too.

                  I mean, hell, look at Belgium. Tiny, tiny country. Unicameral legislature. Yet had no working government for 18 months.

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                • Cain, I just wanted to say that there is a whole lot of great points nestled in here. Or, rather, you touch on a lot of different things that make me want to leave a long-arse comment. Alas, I am hitting the road tomorrow and won’t have time. I’ll try to get back to it.

                  In the meantime, Nob points to Belgium as a small county that cannot govern itself. Some of that is structural, as he suggests, but some of it is a product of Belgium’s diversity. In that case, a rather clear division between three distinct states-within-a-state (okay, one of them is a city state that is the house to a completely different government – a unique case). California, Texas, Illinois, New York… mostly places with notable diversity. I don’t just mean ethnic diversity, but Upstate vs NYC, the multipolar urban zones in Texas and California with differing cultures (again, not just a reference to ethnicity, though that plays a role).

                  In addition to some of the other things you point out, it’s hard for a central govern to govern very different places (with different needs and different cultures) at once.

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          • Mr. Psycho, a little history on your party:

            “[Howard] Dean once described the [Democratic Leadership Council] as the “Republican wing of the Democratic Party.” [26] The DLC countered that Dean represented the “McGovern-Mondale wing” of the Democratic Party, “defined principally by weakness abroad and elitist, interest-group liberalism at home.”

            Bill Clinton, of course was the DLC’s greatest success, but now it’s defunct. Howard Dean went on to become party chair. So this is what I mean by the “McGovern wing” of the party, OK?  I’m playing it straight.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Leadership_Council

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            • Not “my” party, Tom.  Parties are for people who think there’s something of the state worth attempting to redeem by picking new bums to replace the old ones.

              Still, you judge by who sits in the chairs, I judge by what actually happens, and based on the actions of the Obama administration w/r/t foreign policy I’d think any true “McGovern” wing of his party would be in revolt.

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              • Mr. Psycho, “McGovern wing” is an established political term, even used by Joe Biden.  I’d google it all up for you, but it’s another thankless job.

                As for yr claim of no party affinity, these things mean zero to me.  You’ll be voting for Obama in 2012 and savaging the GOP nominee: it’s a difference that makes no difference.

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                • I haven’t voted for a president since 2000. That vote was for Harry Browne.  I considered a vote in ’04 for the LP nominee that year but decided to sit out due to what I at the time saw as a suicidal campaign strategy taken up by that candidate.  In 2008 the only votes I made were on local issues, leaving all federal office positions blank. I’m not voting for president this go round either.

                  Not everyone who disagrees with you is a Dem, Tom.

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            • According to RedState, Lindsey Graham is a socialist; Newt Gingrich is a hard core leftist., and Mitt Romney is a Democrat.

              Someone more ambitious than I ccould craft a diagram that locates BHO, Lindsey Graham, Bill Ayres, and Stalin within one party.

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  2. What impressed me about Huntsman is his stance on global warming, particularity is reasoning behind it.  It amounts to “the experts are saying it, so I’m going to believe it.  What I do about it is a separate issue”.

    This tells me he understands the proper relationship between an advisor and a decision-maker.  The advisor figures out the facts, and reports to the decision-maker along with a recommendation.  The decision-maker’s role is to accept the facts, consider the recommendation and decide what to do.

    This understanding is an important piece of knowledge for someone who wants to be President.

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  3. Good post. I think Huntsman would beat Obama in 2012, fwiw, but I also think he has no chance of making it out of the primary — this year or in 2020 (GOP ain’t going to go Mormon twice-in-a-row). His repeated Kurt Cobain references, however, have won him my eternal sympathy.

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  4. Huntsman’s biggest problem with the GOP base of course, is that he worked for Obama as Ambassador to China. Even if he did gain frontrunner status, the fact that he recognized Obama as a legitimate president and governing leader would disqualify him…

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  5. ***He’s a moderate on social issues (at least as liberal as Obama so far as I can tell)***

    Um, what? On what issues is Huntsman as liberal as Obama? Certainly not on the two biggest social issues of the day: abortion and gay marriage.

    As governor of Utah, Huntsman supported and signed—as he has said—every pro-life bill that came to my desk, including parental consent, informed consent, and late-term abortion ban laws. That is the opposite of Obama.

    On gay marriage Huntsman has said that “redefining marriage is something that would be impossible and it’s something I would not be in favor of . . .” Obama’s position on gay marriage: “I’m still working on it.”

    Huntsman supports DOMA. Obama does not.

    *** I’m not sure Huntsman could be smeared so easily with the isolationism tar brush.***

    No, probably not since Huntsman is in no way an isolationist. You are aware, aren’t you, that he said he’d launch a ground invasion to prevent Iran from getting nukes? That’s pretty standard neo-con stuff.

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    • Stop pointing out what Huntsman has actually done (like instituting a regressive flat tax and signing every pro-life bill out there) that points how he is indeed still a right-winger. Yes, he believe in evolution and climate change (kinda). He still wants to blow up brown people in the Middle East and gut Medicare. But, that’s a ‘moderate’ these days in the GOP.

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    • Joe, as I explained re: Iran up-thread I don’t think Huntsman is entirely sincere when it comes to Iran. I think he’s playing tough on defense when his actual positions are much more cautious. I could be wrong. But I certainly don’t think he’s beating the neo-con drum simply by talking tough about Iran.

      I actually forgot about the abortion issue. I think I’m trying to block that out of my head lately. I’m not actually that concerned one way or another as I see the issue itself not changing at the national level. Already its devolving back to the states in any case.

      Re: gay marriage. Obama is hardly a champion of that cause. Huntsman would hardly be a champion for those who are against it. I don’t see much of a difference either way. But yes, Huntsman is certainly to the right of Obama. I’m just not particularly convinced that he’s far enough to the right of Obama to make much of a practical difference. Both men strike me as fairly competent and very smart. I would be pretty content with either as president, at least outside of foreign policy.

       

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      • In other words, you like the ‘idea’ of Jon Huntsman, sensible moderate instead of the ‘reality’ of Jon Huntsman, ‘right-wing governor who’s somewhat based in reality.’ Huntsman’s national security team is led by Brent Scowcroft, Richard Haass, and RIchard Armitage. All who held key positions in past Republican administrations and all who are basically neocons, aside from Scowcroft and even his biggest problem w/ the Iraq War is we didn’t have enough backup. I don’t see much evidence  that these are the people who won’t be pushing an invasion of Iran from day one.

        Look, I can understand the notion of trying to find somebody instead of Obama if you’re disappointed in him. But, the truth is, even if you don’t care about gay rights (as a Huntsman administration would start defending DOMA), reproductive rights (as the first Huntsman appointee to the SC would overturn RvW and make it even easier for states to ban abortion), entitlements (he fully supports the wacky Ryan plan), sane tax policy (as Huntsman would eliminate capital gains/dividend taxes and drastically cut income taxes), don’t try to act a Huntsman Presidency or any Republican Presidency wouldn’t be far to the right of Obama, especially with a GOP House & Senate that would accompany any Republican win in 2012.

        Make the arguments on the merits that more massive tax cuts, more cuts in Medicare, less reproductive freedom, and the such are all just prices we have to pay for a Huntsman Presidency.

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        • Armitage was, as a member of the Bush administration, largely considered a moderate of the Colin Powell mold. Internally, an opponent of Wolfowitz and along with Powell a voice of caution (if not opposition) to the war. He resigned with Powell and afterwards almost immediately called for a withdrawal from Iraq.

          Scowcroft’s opposition to the Iraq War was more ideological than you give it credit for. He felt it would cause instability in the Middle East and hinder (liberal-friendly) attempts at Israel-Palestinian peace.

          Haass is also a Powellite. He is the head of the Council on Foreign Relations. Largely an internationalist organization and not a particularly neoconservative one.

          None of these men are particularly well-regarded by the hawks.

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          • Richard Armitage was Robert Novak’s source on Valerie Plame, a non-event of which so much hay was made.  He was never made to suffer, but he should have.

            The rest of Jon Huntsman’s “kitchen cabinet” listed here is a Loser’s Corner.

            For the record, we fucking won in Iraq despite the weak knees of those who wanted to quit when things got tough.   That’s a fact.  Whether it was “worth it” is a separate discussion.

            What happens from here is on BHO’s head.  We might get lucky, he might get lucky, the Iraqi people might get lucky.  I hope so.  But he’s rolling the dice.

            Poor little pawn and minor functionary Scooter Libby went to jail, but it was Richard Armitage who shot off his mouth and gave Valerie Plame up in the first place.  You could look it up.  I’m appalled Armitage has the guts to show his face in public.  He should have had the decency to fade away into well-earned disgrace.

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              • Of course it was victory in Iraq, Nob, unless you redefine it, which you just did.  Win the war, lose the peace, then win the peace.  Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back.

                Another 2 years to let the Iraqis get themselves squared away?  That would have been prudent, esp with Egypt, Yemen and perhaps Libya about to go squirrelly, and bigtime.  Don’t even know about Syria.

                I was hoping you & I could discuss stuff rather than front for this & that.  Was Iraq worth it?  Probably not.  Is endangering what was a clear success [despite the cost]  worth it by withdrawing our troops now for no more than minor political points?  Emphatically no.  Sir.

                President Obama plays with fire.

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                    • From that article:

                      This month, American officials pressed the Iraqi leadership to meet again at President Talabani’s compound to discuss the issue. This time the Americans asked them to take a stand on the question of immunity for troops, hoping to remove what had always been the most difficult hurdle. But they misread Iraqi politics and the Iraqi public. Still burdened by the traumas of this and previous wars, and having watched the revolutions sweeping their region, the Iraqis were unwilling to accept anything that infringed on their sovereignty.

                      U.S. forces ask for immunity, the Iraqi people reject the idea, U.S. forces leave. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

                      If it’s true that Talabani didn’t want them all to leave, then this result shows a degree of people power, at least on this question, that I didn’t expect to see.  Good on them.

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            • There is little question that Armitage was the primary leaker. By most accounts, though, what Armitage did was accidental and without malicious intent (and he came forward as the source once he realized the error). They came down hard on Libby because he was alleged to be part of what was an effort to discredit Plame in what was considered to be a political act.

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          • To be blunt, anybody who was in the discussions of the Iraq War in the White House and didn’t resign/speak out/do something before the war started I consider just as culpable as Bush and Cheney. Perhaps, even more so, because they put a ‘respectable’ varnish on the whole horror show (see Powell at the UN). So, I have no faith that the same thing wouldn’t happen with Iran, Syria, or some other poor Middle East country, especially since Haass wrote an article saying regime change was the only way to fix Iran less than two years ago.

            The CFR is “centrist” the same way a lot of “centrist” organizations are – at the end of the day, they come down on the right side of the ledger, but still expect to be called centrist. Yes, I’m well-aware right-winger’s don’t like the CFR. Doesn’t mean they’re center-left or even centrist in any sense of the word.

            Outside of Paul, the truth is, there’s not going to be a dime’s difference between any Republican’s foreign policy if they get elected.

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          • I think your general assessment is on, in so far as it does suggest Huntsman’s not as interested in culture wars issues as he is in the technocratic aspects of governance.

            He is however, pretty conventionally conservative in a lot of areas, including having a cabinet bench of Scowcroft/Powell group (and probably Baker-ite) foreign policy hands. Which is not such a bad thing…Baker’s an idiot when it comes to domestic policy, but his foreign policy chops were decent.

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      • Re: gay marriage. Obama is hardly a champion of that cause.

        Hmmm….maybe not a champion, but certainly not a foe. His administration is not defending DOMA in court, ended DADT, and Obama has personally even sent a congratulations letter to the first gay couple married in NY (on official White House stationary no less).

        I think it’s safe to say we would not see any of that stuff from a Republican president…even Huntsman.

         

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  6. ***I think he’s playing tough on defense when his actual positions are much more cautious.***

    But aren’t his “actual positions” what he says he will do? Why should we believe him on one point and think he is disingenuous on the other? How do we know the Iran saber-rattling is not his “true” position and the other is a pose?

    ***Huntsman would hardly be a champion for those who are against it.***

    I think you might be surprised. Huntsman’s position on civil marriage for homosexuals is basically the same as James Dobson’s. To think that a guy who supports DOMA and wants the support of the GOP would not be a champion for those who are against it seems not to fit the evidence.

    Huntsman has a fairly conservative record on social issues and is rather neo-connish on foreign policy. But because he believes in global warming (sorta) a lot of people seem to assume that he’s really some closeted center-left leaning centrist. I don’t see that there is any evidence for that.

    It seems that, like Ron Paul in 2010 and Obama in 2008, a lot of people are reading into Huntsman what they want to see.

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  7. The series of Ron Paul blogs and comments here at the League have me leaning in support of the anti-abortion doctor. Romney and Huntsman are RINO/Neocon pukes. We need to restore the ground. In fact that should be his slogan, “Restore the Ground!”

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  8. There are a few problems with Jon Huntsman. The first one is the fact that not only does he have Super PAC money, but his Super PAC is funded, at least in part by his dad and Huntsman Corporation. The other problem is that he is an apologist for China. He’s for Corportism not Capitalism, for Free not Fair Trade. We need someone who is for Capitalism and someone who is for Fair Trade. Someone who is Free To Lead, who doesn’t have a PAC or a Super PAC. We need Gov. Buddy Roemer.

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