Thursday, September 29, 2011

Huntsman is a Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma

Jon Huntsman confuses the hell out of me, pure and simple. I seem to have a WTF reaction to basically every action he takes.

If Jon Huntsman wanted to have a future political career in the Republican Party, why did Huntsman gave up 80%+ approval ratings in Utah to become Obama's Ambassador to China? I didn't understand it then and I still don't understand it now. If Huntsman wanted to be President, why didn't he run as the popular Governor of Utah in 2012? From that position, he could have been a vocally anti-Obama instead of being on the political sidelines in China. However, he was in China, so out of sight out of mind.

Since he for whatever reason decided to join the administration, why couldn't he at least wait until 2016/2020 once the GOP gave up its Obama Derangement Syndrome like it did its Clinton Derangement Syndrome? Time heals all political wounds, just ask 1988 Gore supporting Rick Perry. His membership in the administration would have likely been forgotten, if not forgiven, if he had just waited and not jumped directly from the administration into running for President. I didn't understand his thinking still don't know how he thought he'd win the GOP nod given the events of the first half Obama's first time.

Instead, he blew his load, and is left to explain to a rabid anti-Obama base why they should vote for a former member of the Obama administration, while simultaneously calling them all crazy anti-intellectual, anti-science, lunatics. And it isn't going well at all. He is polling under 2% in the recent national polls, and is in danger of being excluded from the next debate because of his anemic poll numbers. He appears to see some of writing on the wall and is pulling stakes in Florida and South Carolina while going all-in in New Hampshire.

The problems with this strategy as numerous as they are large. One, Mitt Romney, his mortal foe, is dominating. Two, he is running behind the Republican Party's resident crazy uncle, Ron Paul. And three, for all the talk about New Hampshire, Iowa, and the early states, you need a national following to win the nomination. Yes, John McCain's fortunes were likely greatly helped by his New Hampshire victory in '08, but he also was rising in the national polls at the same time he was rising in the New Hampshire polls. Obama might have been greatly helped by winning Iowa convincingly, but he won the nomination by building a national organization and running up the scores in the small state caucuses.

Huntsman isn't able to build a national organization because of his money woes. He is forced to pull back, and campaign like crazy in New Hampshire, and New Hampshire alone. That isn't going to boost his numbers nationally. It's not going to allow him to rase the massive sums of money he needs to be a serious contender. It's not going to endear him to a base that does not like him and that he transparently disdains. I just don't see this working out for him, either in the short run or the long run.

That said, it is still early in the process. After all if nominees were selected based on polls conducted in the fall before the primary, we'd be talking about who is going to run against President Hillary Clinton. But from my vantage point, Huntsman is making yet another huge political gamble, with an incredibly low chance of success.

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