The Answer to a Question That Nobody is Asking

 

How’s this for the saddest sentence one could construct in modern American life?: Larry King interviewed Jon Huntsman on Ora.tv yesterday. You know … sweeps season and all. 

The interview, conducted in the break room of King’s rest home, is an awkward affair to watch, especially because King is drinking from a coffee mug with his own silhouette on it, an act with implications too profoundly Freudian to contemplate. Huntsman — sporting an electric blue tie, hair perfectly coiffed — casts the same image you may remember from the 2012 election: guy at the Newport Beach Starbucks who holds up the line with questions about how their soy milk is sourced.

So how does a discussion between a man whose interview style seems to be an elaborate, Andy Kaufmanesque practical joke and a washed up politician whose biggest moment on the presidential stage was dropping an awkward, “Dad, please leave us alone,” Nirvana reference at a debate generate headlines? With former Governor/Ambassador/Prog Rocker Huntsman’s announcement that he’s “open” to another presidential run. If you’re now in the market for a fainting couch, you can get a reasonable deal at Amazon.

I don’t know what being “open” means. I’m open to a weekend getaway on a catamaran with Kate Hudson. For Huntsman, as for me, I’m not sure that receptivity is the highest hurdle to clear. 

This is where it gets cute:

Huntsman said, “I’m open, but here’s the deal: You have to be able to create a pathway from point A to point B. I can tell you how I’d get to the finish line from Super Tuesday, but I can’t tell you how I get through those early primary states, having been there and done that once before.”

Translation: I’d have to figure out how to get past the voters who’ve already revealed their contempt for me and go straight to those who haven’t yet had the chance.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: why bother wasting the attention on a marginal figure like Huntsman? Partially it’s because he’s the kind of public figure — vain, shallow, pretentious — who could always use a good dressing down (the Latin term for this principle is “Sic Semper Douchebag”). Partially, though, it’s because I hope other Republican politicians see him as a cautionary tale.

Jon Huntsman didn’t fail to get any traction during the 2012 campaign because he was a moderate. We nominated Mitt Romney, after all. He failed to connect because it was obvious that he held his own party in contempt.

There’s a difference between trying to nudge your partisan kin on a few issues and taking them to task as a matter of sport. If you’re wondering where the line is, it’s somewhere before you start blaming your failures in the primaries on the fact that people who “work for a living” don’t make up the base. Also, if you’re a Republican politician who’s tempted to make arguments about evolution one of the centerpieces of your campaign, look in the mirror and realize this: you are not in the business of running for president. You are in the business of filling out Slate’s editorial calendar.

You can be a conservative. You can be a moderate. But don’t be the guy who’s ashamed of his own people. You may just end up drinking out of a mug with Larry King’s silhouette on it. 

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  1. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    There are fringe candidates and then there is Jon Huntsman.

    • #1
  2. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    If Huntsman didn’t exist, it would not have been necessary to invent him.

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Troy Senik, Ed.: artially it’s because he’s the kind of public figure — vain, shallow, pretentious — who could always use a good dressing down (the Latin term for this principle is “Sic Semper Douchebag”).

    I don’t remember studying that last phrase in Latin.  Google translator, since I am too lazy to get my dictionary, gives “CATACLYSMOS peram,” so “Sic Semper Cataclysmos peram” or can some of our scholars create a better translation?

    • #3
  4. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Huntsman

    • #4
  5. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad


    Troy Senik, Ed.
    : Huntsman’s announcement that he’s “open” to another presidential run.

     Oh, still my beating heart . . .

    Troy Senik, Ed.: Mitt Romney . . .  failed to connect because it was obvious that he held his own party in contempt.

    And as a result, the party base held him in contempt (fewer votes than McCain, IIRC).  I still felt he would have been a good President, but when you say you can work with the other side, or you don’t take the fight to the enemy (the last two debates), you turn the base off.  I want someone who will fight for me and what I believe in.  You can fight cleanly (like Reagan did – he wasn’t afraid to call out Carter by name), but fight nonetheless.

    • #5
  6. user_240173 Contributor
    user_240173
    @FrankSoto

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    I don’t know what being “open” means. I’m open to a weekend getaway on a catamaran with Kate Hudson. For Huntsman, as for me, I’m not sure that receptivity is the highest hurdle to clear.

     This line is surpassed only by this one.

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Translation: I’d have to figure out how to get past the voters who’ve already revealed their contempt for me and go straight to those who haven’t yet had the chance.

    • #6
  7. tabula rasa Inactive
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    The embarrassment I feel for voting for him as my governor is profound (he was a conservative back then, I promise).

    Next week:  Ross Perot.

    • #7
  8. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas
    @CUDouglas

    Hey, after his girls made that music video, who wouldn’t vote for Huntsman? Well, except for most everyone that is.

    • #8
  9. user_959530 Member
    user_959530
    @

    It sounds you derived this comment from personal experience – hilarious.

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Huntsman — sporting an electric blue tie, hair perfectly coiffed — casts the same image you may remember from the 2012 election: guy at the Newport Beach Starbucks who holds up the line with questions about how their soy milk is sourced.

    • #9
  10. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I met him, shook his hand even, at a rodeo in Reno.   He’s not very manly and I kind of want that in a male politician.

    • #10
  11. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    tabula rasa:

    The embarrassment I feel for voting for him as my governor is profound (he was a conservative back then, I promise).

    Next week: Ross Perot.

    Well, I confess to voting for Perot in ’92, but I only regret it because I helped elect Bill Clinton. Perot may be somewhat of a nut, but at least he is a self-made nut.

    • #11
  12. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    “Open to another run…” On which side?

    As for a moderate left-leaning Republican getting past the voters… Are you running for President or the lead in The Jerry Ford Story?

    Accident

    • #12
  13. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    The good old Charlie Crist of the national stage, how I’ve missed him.

    I hope he is paying keen attention to the original so that when he inevitably flips to a (D) he knows how to do it with the same class and style.

    • #13
  14. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Roberto:

    The good old Charlie Crist of the national stage, how I’ve missed him.

    I hope he is paying keen attention to the original so that when he inevitably flips to a (D) he knows how to do it with the same class and style.

    Have you heard Crist has hired Obama ‘big gun’ Jim Messina as campaign strategist?

    • #14
  15. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    The interview, conducted in the break room of King’s rest home, is an awkward affair to watch

    Yeah, but it’s still better than watching Piers Morgan.

    • #15
  16. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    “I cannot forecast to you the action of Huntsman. He is fickle, wrapped in upholstery, inside a stigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Martian national interest.”

    • #16
  17. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Jon Who?

    • #17
  18. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Jon Huntsman, Charlie Crist … two reasons why we have the word RINO.

    Leaders whom no one wants to follow are, by definition, not leaders.

    • #18
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    He laughed at his own jokes – and he was the only one laughing.

    • #19
  20. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    EThompson:

    Roberto:

    The good old Charlie Crist of the national stage, how I’ve missed him.

    I hope he is paying keen attention to the original so that when he inevitably flips to a (D) he knows how to do it with the same class and style.

    Have you heard Crist has hired Obama ‘big gun’ Jim Messina as campaign strategist?

     Damn, I thought you were poking fun but you’re correct.

    Well now I know where Mr. Crist’s new “racism, racism, racism” strategy comes from.  

    • #20
  21. Fredösphere Inactive
    Fredösphere
    @Fredosphere

    It’s always fun to imagine the mirror-image contrafactual. So: when was the last time the Dems had a candidate who communicated a mission to save his base from their own ignorance and vulgarity?

    . . .I’m thinking. . .I’m thinking. . .

    Of course we know where this asymmetry comes from. If such a jerk tried to run for the Dem nomination, the watchdogs in the press would sink their fangs in him in an instant.

    • #21
  22. user_2967 Inactive
    user_2967
    @MatthewGilley

    From the out takes:  “Sir, answer me this – you’ve been a guv’na, an ambassador, so … who would ya’ rather sing at ya’ funeral?  Glen Campbell or Barbara Mandrell?  I’m Mandrell every time.  So whattaya say?”

    • #22
  23. Drusus Inactive
    Drusus
    @Drusus

    Oh, Huntsman – I remember him…no, wait, I just remember his daughters. I was going to vote for the three of them, but I did feel guilty about not voting for Kony 2012. (I think he was going to stop, like, violence and stuff.) But then I didn’t see any of them on my ballot, and I couldn’t remember all the daughters’ names, so I just wrote in Kony. I’ll probably vote for him again in 2016.

    • #23
  24. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Thanks for the laugh, Troy. Quite a few great lines in this post.

    I wonder how many hours spent in front of the mirror working on that arched eyebrow… “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

    We don’t, Jon. We don’t.

    • #24
  25. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    Matthew Gilley:

    From the out takes: ”Sir, answer me this – you’ve been a guv’na, an ambassador, so … who would ya’ rather sing at ya’ funeral? Glen Campbell or Barbara Mandrell? I’m Mandrell every time. So whattaya say?”

     Full disclosure: I gave two reasons in the piece for going after Huntsman. The unspoken third was to give Gilley the chance to do a Larry King riff.

    • #25
  26. user_7742 Inactive
    user_7742
    @BrianWatt


    DocJay
    :

    I met him, shook his hand even, at a rodeo in Reno. He’s not very manly and I kind of want that in a male politician.

    That reminds me of someone else. Oh, yes…Huntsman’s former boss.

    ObamaGlee

    • #26
  27. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    How do you decline the Latin noun douchebag? 

    • #27
  28. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    EThompson:

    tabula rasa:

    The embarrassment I feel for voting for him as my governor is profound (he was a conservative back then, I promise).

    Next week: Ross Perot.

    Well, I confess to voting for Perot in ’92, but I only regret it because I helped elect Bill Clinton. Perot may be somewhat of a nut, but at least he is a self-made nut.

     I voted for him in ’92, too – mostly because of Bush Sr.’s failure on tax policy, in terms of “read my lips”.  I really wish I could take that vote back now, no matter if it would have made a difference in the election.  So be it.

    • #28
  29. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    Brian Watt:

    DocJay:

    I met him, shook his hand even, at a rodeo in Reno. He’s not very manly and I kind of want that in a male politician.

    That reminds me of someone else. Oh, yes…Huntsman’s former boss.

    ObamaGlee

     Tee hee!  You big silly!

    • #29
  30. user_316485 Member
    user_316485
    @ManOTea

    The Kate Hudson and Latin phrase lines made me LOL while clawing to wakefulness this AM. Very Jim Geraghty like, which I hope Troy takes as a compliment.  Just great, from the gut contempt for this chameleon wimp Huntsman. Bravo TS.

    • #30
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