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Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I hate to admit it, but I've got a shameful secret. A VERY shameful secret. Since I finally came out to my mother-in-law and WonderWife, it's now my responsibility to share that shameful secret with all of you as well. Make sure you have your smelling salts firmly in hand, and please be sure you're sitting down.

Here it is: There's a Republican candidate for President that I like. Yeah. I know. Unashamed, unabashed liberal that I am, there is a Republican candidate for President that I like. Unbelievable. I scarcely believe it myself. And that person is John Huntsman. Yeah, yeah - I know. Mormon, member of the "magic underwear" contingent, 8 kids, family values, loves DOMA, etc ad nauseum. And yet, while he's not the man for my vote, he is someone that I think would make a very good President some day.

So, who is John Huntsman, and why would I like him? Well, first of all, he is neither a religious fanatic nor is he an extreme fiscal conservative of the kind that would rather let the country default than compromise his principles. He is a Mormon, sure, but he's the kind of Mormon that is more concerned with following the teachings of Jesus regarding the poor, the fatherless, the halt, blind and lame and the hungry than he is in laying up public acclaim for his ideals. He has had a distinguished career as a dedicated public servant, who has always striven to do more good than harm. He is, in other words, a very good man.

He was the 16th Governor of the state of Utah, and he's been very active in public service for a good many years. He served as a Mormon missionary for two years in Taiwan, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in international politics. He worked as a White House staff assistant for Ronald Reagan, and was appointed by George H.W. Bush as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and later as United States Ambassador to Singapore from 1992–1993. Mr. Huntsman served as Deputy United States Trade Representative under George W. Bush, launching global trade negotiations in Doha, Qatar in 2001 and guiding the accession of China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization. Mr. Huntsman was elected Governor of Utah in April, 2004 and won re-election in 2008 with nearly 78% of the vote. During his tenure, then Governor Huntsman cut taxes by more than $400 million (the largest tax cut in the state's history) while still maintaining a budget surplus, and Utah was named the "Best Managed State in America" by the Pew Research Center. While he was serving as governor, he also served as chairman of the Western Governors Association and as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association. On August 11, 2009, he resigned as governor to accept an appointment as the United States Ambassador to China.

His political philosophies are clear-cut and very well defined. Mr. Huntsman is a Republican, with conservative fiscal credentials and a mixture of positions on social issues. He has been described as "a conservative technocrat-optimist with moderate positions who was willing to work substantively with President Barack Obama." As governor of Utah, Mr. Huntsman listed economic development, health-care reform, education, and energy security as his top priorities. He also oversaw large tax cuts, and advocated reorganizing the way that services were distributed so that the government would not become overwhelmed by the state's fast growing population. He also proposed a plan to reform health-care, mainly through the private sector, by using tax breaks and negotiation to keep prices down. In 2007, when asked about a healthcare mandate, Huntsman said, "I'm comfortable with a requirement, call it whatever you want, but at some point we're going to have to get serious about how we deal with this issue." In a 2008 evaluation of state governors' fiscal policies, the libertarian Cato Institute praised Huntsman's conservative tax policies, ranking him in a tie for fifth place on overall fiscal policy. He was particularly lauded for his efforts to cut taxes, where he received the highest score on tax policy of all 50 governors. The report specifically highlighted his reductions of the sales tax and simplification of the tax code. However, the report concluded that: "Unfortunately, Huntsman has completely dropped the ball on spending, with per capita spending increasing at about 10 percent annually during his tenure." He defines his taxation policy as "business friendly".

Mr. Huntsman is also a signatory to the Western Climate Initiative and is a strong supporter of Israel. On foreign policy, Mr. Huntsman has repeatedly stated, "We need to continue working closely with China to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program." He has also named Taiwan, human rights, and Tibet among the "areas where we have differences with China" and vowed "robust engagement" on human rights if confirmed. The governor, who lived in Taiwan as a Mormon missionary, said he felt "personally invested in the peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences, in a way that respects the wishes of the people on both Taiwan and the mainland. He has said that current US policy "supports this objective, and I have been encouraged by the recent relaxing of cross-strait tensions."

OK, I can hear y'all saying this now: "WOW, Wils, this is really exciting. (YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWN) so, why should I care?" Good question, and one that I asked myself over and over again. John Huntsman is getting to be a person of interest to me because he is the only person in the race for the Republican nomination that isn't either a loon or a flip-flopper. Yeah, Mitt Romney isn't a loon, but he's also not a person that has consistent views from one day to the next. Mr. Romney is trying to be all things to all people. Mr. Huntsman (and Mr. Pawlenty, who is no longer in the race) aren't concerned with being all things to all people. Mr. Huntsman might be a politician, but he doesn't act like one. Mitt Romney IS a politician, just like Rick Perry (with an "E"), and both of them are consistent in only one thing: they both want to be President, and they both put that goal ahead of anything else. Or, in other words, a more extreme than usual case of "HOORAY for me, and fuck YOU".

Mr. Huntsman warned, on ABC's THIS WEEK this Sunday past, that his opponents' stances on the "extreme end" may make them "unelectable" in the general election. In an exclusive interview on "This Week," Huntsman said "there's a serious problem" with comments made by Perry in New Hampshire last week calling man-made global warming "a scientific theory that has not been proven and from my perspective is more and more being put into question" while claiming scientists have "manipulated data" on the issue.
"The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party - the anti-science party -, we have a huge problem," Mr. Huntsman told ABC News Senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper. "We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012." "When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said … about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position," Huntsman added. (The article can be read in its entirety here:

How can you NOT love a candidate that tweets something like this? "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." He has also said that, "We've found ourselves at the extreme ends of the political spectrum and people are crying out for us to get back to some level of sensibility."

Mr. Huntsman is a man of intellect, consistency and good will. He has been a good and a dedicated public servant for most of his career. He is NOT a lunatic, nor is he a Religious Reichian©. He is a centrist, with good ideas and the political stature that will - I hope - eventually lead folks to listen to him. He's not talking pie in the sky; everything that he is putting forth as ideas that will really help the economy and the country are things that he did in Utah that proved to be successful, like the flat tax that is still in force today. Frankly, he's scary. He's SANE.

As I said, not the man for my vote this cycle - but a good man that would make a good President. I'm just sorry that he's running right now, when he won't be taken seriously and doesn't have the proverbial snowball's chance of even getting taken seriously.

And that, gangers, is my shameful secret. I've found a Republican that I could cheerfully support and whose campaign I would be more than happy to work for - if he just weren't running NOW.

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