John Huntsman: Wasting Conservatives' Time
Nowadays, many people are running (or considering running) for president. One of them is Obama's former ambassador to Communist China, former Governor Jon Huntsman of Utah.
Huntsman is the GOP establishment's new beau idéal, now that their favorite boy, Mitch Daniels, has announced he's not running. But is Huntsman the right candidate for ordinary Republicans and the country? Absolutely not.
The only Republican candidates who can win in 2012 are those who have never advocated (or implemented) liberal policies, have always consistently advocated a conservative agenda, and can therefore constitute a stark contrast to Barack Obama. A liberal Republican who has implemented or advocated liberal policies will not receive the votes of either moderates or conservatives.
Moderates, whenever given a choice between a liberal Democrat and a liberal Republican, always choose the liberal Democrat. Conservative voters will stay home or vote for a third-party candidate (like they did in 1992, 1996, and 2008) if the GOP nominates yet another RINO for the presidency. Tea Party Nation coordinator Judson Phillips has already warned the GOP about this.
Sounds blindingly obvious? Certainly not to Huntsman, his few supporters, and the media.
The keystone of any human civilization is a family, composed of a mother, a father, and children. Wherever American voters were allowed to decide (Arizona excepted), they chose traditional marriage. In the previous decade, a constitutional amendment defining marriage became a plank of this party's platform, because the GOP, like 62% of Americans, recognizes that every child deserves to have a mother and a father, not Parent A and Parent B. And social conservatives constitute a large part of the GOP and contribute a lot of money and volunteers to the party -- yet John Huntsman evidently disagrees with them on this issue. Huntsman supports "gay rights" and same-sex unions (a big step towards gay marriage). But it's not just in social issues arena where Huntsman has embraced, and implemented when possible, liberal policies.
The three key issues that will likely dominate the 2012 presidential campaign will be the economy (jobs, economic growth, the budget, etc.), energy, and Obama's socialized medicine scheme. As stated above, only a candidate who has consistently advocated conservative policies on these issues, and would thus be a stark contrast to Obama, can credibly criticize the president for his liberal policies and win the election.
And what has Jon Huntsman advocated?
The most fiscally irresponsible bill in American history was the $800-billion Porkulus (also known as the ARRA). All House Republicans and all but three GOP Senators (Specter, Snowe, and Collins) opposed it, as did Gov. Palin, Gov. Perry, and many others. Specter has been voted out of Congress since then. But Jon Huntsman thinks that the problem with the Porkulus is that it wasn't large enough!
On energy, President Obama and Nancy Pelosi tried to impose on America an unconstitutional cap-and-tax scheme. Jon Huntsman believes that it's a fantastic idea. (Don't celebrate, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty -- Republicans know that you guys used to be for it, too.)
Then there is Obama's socialized medicine scheme. It remains very unpopular -- not just because of its provisions, but also because of the way it was imposed on a resistant electorate. President Obama has already warned that if Republicans nominate any governor who has implemented socialized medicine in his home state, he will denounce him as a hypocrite (which he would be). And what did Jon Huntsman do as Governor of Utah? He implemented socialized medicine, like Romney did in Massachusetts.
On these three issues, large majorities of Americans disagree with Obama, even if, as liberals unceasingly assure us, Obama remains "personally popular" (whatever that means). These three issues will be Obama's Achilles Heels, his three biggest vulnerabilities. As Doug Brady has rightly remarked, only Republicans can remove them from the table...but by nominating Jon Huntsman or some other RINO? That would be akin to unilateral disarmament and allowing Obama to win the election easily. Why would any party interested in victory do this?
How can Republicans criticize Obama for socialized medicine, the Porkulus, other fiscally irresponsible bills, cap-and-trade, and socialized medicine when Jon Huntsman has fanatically supported exactly these policies? They can't, and Obama will likely raise enough money to make that point.
Oh, and speaking of disarmament, Jon Huntsman is also liberal on defense issues. As with Obama, the Democrats, and Congressman Ron Paul, this is the only category of spending which Huntsman would significantly cut. He has singled it out for massive reductions, even though it's already at a historically low level of 3.50% of GDP and less than 15% of the total federal budget.
I will not repeat all of the factual reasons against defense cuts; see here and here. I shall only add that Huntsman clearly hasn't read the Constitution and doesn't understand the federal government's role. It is to defend this country, not to regulate CO2 emissions, stimulate the economy, or provide a safety net. Defense is emphasised by the Constitution like no other issue; 50% of the Congress' enumerated prerogatives (9 of 18) are related to military affairs, and Article IV explicitly commands the feds to protect the country against invasion. Yet Huntsman doesn't care. He just wants to gut America's defense. The facts don't matter to him.
He protests that "if you can't find anything in the DOD budget to cut, you haven't looked hard enough." There is, however, a huge difference between making savings in various parts of the defense budget and redirecting these savings towards something else. DOD savings should be redirected towards modernization.
Huntsman would, if elected, extricate America from Afghanistan and Libya, but he's not the only candidate pledging to do so (most other candidates would also do that, and rightly so). There is, however, a misconception that the only foreign affairs choice Republicans have is between Paul-Huntsman-style isolationism and a McCainiac policy of hyperinterventionism (making every internecine conflict America's business). There is a better way, a third way -- intervening when, and only when, America's crucial interests are at stake. (See here and here.) The idea that only Huntsman can extricate America from Afghanistan is absurd.
In sum, Jon Huntsman is barely distinguishable (at best) from Obama -- be it on social, fiscal/economic, or defense issues. Yet, to win the 2012 election, the GOP will need all "three legs" of the GOP stool (the Reagan coalition).
Nominating Huntsman for the presidency or vice presidency would be an abject rejection of every conservative principle which the GOP used to stand for. It would nail the GOP's coffin shut and signal that the Republican Party and America are done for. Let everyone hope that Republican voters are sensible folks and do not allow Huntsman to win the nomination.