Friday, June 17, 2011

Huntsman Agonistes

Matt Bai of the New York Times claims that the Jon Huntsman candidacy for the Republican nomination should be taken seriously and that he has Republican insiders who will stake their careers on Huntsman's chances.

A few deeply knowledgeable Republicans I talked to (if I told you who they were, they wouldn’t talk to me anymore) gave him something like a 1 in 5 chance of getting the nomination. Their view is that Mr. Huntsman, who is regarded as a moderate on issues like immigration and climate change, isn’t nearly as likely a choice as Mr. Romney, but he’s not substantially less likely than, say, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota.

Ok, claiming that Huntsman has as good a chance as no-hoper Tim Pawlenty is not exactly taking a big leap.

But Huntsman doesn't have a chance at all.

What Huntsman wants to be is the Barack Obama of Republican moderates--someone who can appeal to a broad coalition of Wall Street guys, Main Street Republican businessmen, and traditional conservatives who don't like too much progress but aren't interested in re-enacting either the Boston Tea Party or the attack on Fort Sumter.

But Mitt Romney pretty much has those constituencies sewn up. That leaves Huntsman and Pawlenty fighting over the scraps of Republican voters who think like Romney but don't want to vote for Romney.

That's not a very big group.

If Jon Huntsman has a purpose in running for president at all in 2012, it's to put himself in position to be a consensus elite candidate in 2016.

But he doesn't have any chance of accomplishing that either.

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