Reaction to the newest GOP 2012 entry is a symptom of how far the politics of paralysis has gone. Virtually unknown, Jon Huntsman Jr. causes a media ripple by bringing something new to the race—-a note of sanity and civility.
That he is on speaking terms with the President and has even served in his Administration makes him either (1) a hopeless outsider in Republican primaries or (2) an alternative to the Obama-bashers who make up the field.
Substance-starved journalists are swooning over his announcement statement that “it concerns me that civility, humanity and respect are sometimes lost in our interactions as Americans...I don’t think you need to run down somebody’s rep in order to run for the office of president.”
More to the point, he closed the day by raising $1.2 million and is off on “a week-long fundraising sprint” from traditional Republican high-rollers who have been waiting for a White-Haired Hope to save them from the current clownfest.
On the blank slate of his public image, Huntsman will be drawing a picture of himself as “someone who knows that serious times demand serious leaders and won’t play the gotcha game of modern politics” rather than “a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a man who spent the last two years of his life not just serving President Obama publicly but also praising him privately as a ‘remarkable leader.’”
His position on gay marriage, among other issues, will set him apart from other aspirants, but essentially he seems to be only a different flavor in the GOP smorgasbord of tax cuts and Ryan cutbacks of social programs.
Yet, even small differences could shake up the Republican wall-to-wall strategy of Obama-bashing in an atmosphere that calls for what Thomas Friedman describes as “a full-time government” rather than “a Congress that is a full-time fund-raising enterprise that occasionally legislates and a White House that, save for 100 days, has to be in perpetual campaign mode.”
If Huntsman runs well as “Obama-lite,” at least traditional Republicans and independents will give us some clue about how they feel now about Hope and Change.