Monday, August 22, 2011

Is Jon Huntsman politically dead or undead?

Here's a question I won't even pretend to answer.

You may have heard that Jon Huntsman declared himself a fan of science, which is all well and good for conservatives when the subject is something like 3D TVs, which aren't contradicted by Biblical revelation. But Huntsman apparently believes scientists might be right about evolution and global warming. (I'm sure there's something in Leviticus about global warming being anathema; although why the fundamental conservatives would take that seriously and still eat shellfish is beyond me.)

Let's be honest: Huntsman hasn't had a very good showing this cycle, so I don't think he was ever going to be the nominee. But what has he done by setting himself so far from the rest of the pack?

Is Huntsman shooting himself in the foot today in the hope of getting a bionic leg to run with in 2016, as James Fallows thinks? (Although Fallows doesn't give you anything like that extended metaphor. You're welcome, internet.)

Will this moment of defiance set off a reaction of GOP moderates trying to take their party back?

I'm not sure what the Huntsman campaign is thinking--maybe "go out in a blaze of glory"? But my guess is that this moment of defiance is less like Warren Beatty in Bulworth--telling it like it is and shaking up the establishment--and more like Andy Kaufman reading The Great Gatsby to the audience. Maybe realizing that he would never win the race, Huntsman decided to play an entirely different game. That's great, but you're never going to win a game meaningfully when no one else is playing.

So I salute Jon Huntsman's attempt to bring conservatism into the 20th century (only one century late!), but I don't think he's going to succeed.

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