I am cursing myself for choosing to do this series in alphabetical order. Way back at the beginning, I pondered the best order in which to review Republican presidential contenders. Obviously, the order I should’ve chosen was “just about to self-destruct in a glorious show of dumbassery, so get while the getting’s good!” Sure, I was able to get Bachmann and Cain in, but Palin, that wily vixen, slipped through my fingers. I’ll be damned if I let Rick Perry go! Hang on Rick, I’m almost there! Damn it, Jennie, type faster!
Um, where was I? At the insufficiently-crazypant-conservative Mormon, right. No, not THAT insufficiently-crazypant-conservative Mormon; the other one. Down, Mittens. We’ll get to you, eventually (at least I don’t have to worry about you going anywhere, I don’t think).
So, Jon Huntsman. I don’t think I even knew who he was six months ago. I will tell you, “former governor of Utah” are not words that give liberals much hope. So Huntsman is something of a revelation. Besides holding the governorship, Huntsman was ambassador to China from 2009 to April of this year. (Wow, a candidate with foreign-policy experience? What a novel idea!)
Huntsman’s chances of winning the the Republican nomination, of course, are about on par with Rick Santorum’s (both showing at 1% in the last poll I saw). Still, for those of us who have been dismayed by the hold that the radical right has on the Republican party, it’s refreshing to see a candidate who will admit to believing in evolution and trusting the world’s scientists on global warming.
Huntsman is also supportive of civil unions for gay people, though not for marriage equality. He’s anti-abortion rights, though how restrictive his views are isn’t clear (and given that Republicans are constantly trying to one-up each other in their commitment to the rights of fetuses over the rights of actual, living human beings, I’m going to have grade on a curve here). As evidence by his crazy belief in climate control, he’s very reasonable on environmental issues. Fiscally, you would think he’d be the darling of Tea Partiers (he’s pro-business and pro-lower-taxes), but either Tea Partiers don’t understand what their movement is about, or I don’t. (I’ve always understood the Tea Party movement to be chiefly about fiscal conservatism, but it seems to have morphed into “be as right-wing as humanly possible, especially about social issues.”)
Huntsman’s greatest asset so far appears to be his three eldest daughters, Mary Anne, Abigail and Elizabeth. The three tweet under the name @Jon2012girls. Their tweets range from the irreverent (“Is it us? Or did everyone get a bad haircut for this debate?”), to the unabashedly cheerleading (“Why is my dad on the end of the stage, when his plan makes the most sense?”) and even to the somewhat substantive (“@mittromney how did the hawley smoot tariffs work for economic growth?”). The three gained even more attention recently when they parodied Herman Cain’s bizarre television ad, donning fake mustaches and wielding cigarettes while doing an uncanny imitation of Cain’s chief of staff.
In summary, Jon Huntsman is relatively all right with me. Republicans can (and have, and probably will) do much worse.