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. user_142044 Thatcher
    user_142044
    @AmericanAbroad

    Brian Watt:
    Thanks so much for reminding us of that photograph.  It is awesome.  What a perfect photo for a caption contest.  Good one, Chris Campion.

    • #31
  2. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    No pretty boys. At best, their vanity will lead them to sell out to media in their never-ending search for flattery. There also is a Zoolander factor in that their looks and style have made up for intellectual deficiencies that will ultimately come out. At worst, their vanity hides a more sinister pathology we see exhibited by Mr. Crist.

    • #32
  3. Gary The Ex-Donk Member
    Gary The Ex-Donk
    @

    When your disposition projects “I can’t understand why you silly people are unable to comprehend my awesomeness.” it’s kind of off-putting.  It’s like showing up for a first date and saying “Well, YOU sure lucked out tonight didn’t you?”

    • #33
  4. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Gary The Ex-Donk: When your disposition projects “I can’t understand why you silly people are unable to comprehend my awesomeness.” it’s kind of off-putting. It’s like showing up for a first date and saying “Well, YOU sure lucked out tonight didn’t you?”

     Hey, I have this attitude covered.  Maybe I should run for President?

    • #34
  5. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I always enjoy your wit, Troy.  I recommend you as a speech writer for the next GOP presidential candidate.  Humor gets you everywhere.  

    I can’t tell you how many Dems I’ve heard say that Huntsman is the one GOP candidate they would vote for–which explains why he thinks that if he could get past the primaries he’d have a chance.  Fortunately Republicans recognize him for the smarmy character he really is.

    • #35
  6. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    Hilarious, by the way I’m also ‘open’ to the nomination and the weekend with Kate Hudson and/or her mother.

    • #36
  7. Jim_K Inactive
    Jim_K
    @PlatosRetweet

    I think Betty (Draper) Francis’ old fainting couch is available.

    Ora.tv, Trey? I’m all for casting a wide net for Republican Presidential hopefuls, but you’ve really gone the extra kilometer. Keep up the good work. Maybe you’ll catch Herman Cain trying to revitalize his political career on William Shatner’s Brown Bag Wine Tasting.

    What forlorn demographic is Huntsman courting with Larry King anyhow? Better he should try Dweebcast to macho up his image!

    • #37
  8. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    I guess the question must be asked , is this guy so surrounded by sycophants that not one of them has told him by now, ‘John, wake up, the whole world is laughing at you’

    • #38
  9. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    I’ll go the unpopular route here and point out that — while Huntsman’s candidacy and post candidacy have bee (alternately) cloying and nauseating — he was a solid governor, with ratings from comparable to Perry’s; hardly a perfect record in office, but one that deserved respect.  He also got in front of issues like entitlement and tax reform before it was cool.

    I suppose he’s the exception to the rule that record is everything, but it should be something.

    • #39
  10. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    You’re right, Tom. Record is important.  Something about his manner and character is really off-putting though.  And his positions are Dem lite on many issues.

    • #40
  11. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    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.

     Exactly. I lump him and Christ in the same heap of people I will never vote for…nor will anyone else.

    • #41
  12. HeartofAmerica Inactive
    HeartofAmerica
    @HeartofAmerica

    I’ve often imagined what conversations are like inside people like Huntsman’s head. Does he really hear people telling him that he should run for president or is it his own vanity talking…telling him how great he would be for the people?
    Regardless, he’s not the answer now nor will he be in the future.

    • #42
  13. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    Merina Smith: And his positions are Dem lite on many issues.

    I’ve only half been following his post-2012 career — largely because it’s been too painful — but Huntsman is pro-life, pro-gun, endorsed the Ryan plan before it was cool, and proposed the best tax plan of the election cycle.  Again, conservative groups — both fiscal and otherwise — rated his term as governor very highly.

    Huntsman’s demeanor and attitude toward fellow-conservatives are, unfortunately, deal breakers (as they should be), but he’s no Charlie Christ.

    • #43
  14. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    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.

     But Doc….he speaks Mandarin Chinese!!!  

    • #44
  15. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    The answer is Gas-X.

    • #45
  16. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Pseudodionysius:

    The answer is Gas-X.

     Welcome back Pseud. Your wit and wisdom have been missed.

    • #46
  17. user_656019 Coolidge
    user_656019
    @RayKujawa

    With his attitude, there’s absolutely no chance of his being nominated and win the nomination from the convention floor, the way James A. Garfield was. It’s not going to be like, “I nominate Jon Huntsman to be the Republican Party candidate for the office of President of the United States of America, because I just think he has such good hair!” But just in case, I’d show up anyway if I were Jon. Because that will probably be his only chance at this rate.

    • #47
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Call me a renegade, but any “Republican” that would serve in the administration of the opposition party is a traitor, as far as Republicans and conservatives go . . .

    • #48
  19. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    So, Bob Gates… traitor?

    • #49
  20. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Let’s just say the Regime was not pleased with Gates’ portrayal of the decision processes in Obama’s White House.

    • #50
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