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Obama Names Governor Huntsman Ambassador to China

By John Martin - Posted on 15 May 2009

Detractors will blame the President for shipping out one of the GOP's rising stars.  Maybe Huntsman just wants a break from the party's current plight.  Oh, and he speaks fluent Chinese: 

I just read this, and came here to post it. ;-)  I'll admit this was a surprise, but a welcome bipartisan move.

If the detractors think this one through, Obama may well be giving Huntsman a leg up for 2016.  Considering how complicated our relationship with China is, this isn't a "thank you" type of ambassadorship, but an important post.  This will give Huntsman some credible foreign policy experience, federal experience, in addition to his executive experience as governor. 

Some points to consider:

(1) Huntsman's gubernatorial term ends in '12, so he's probably I assume never had intentions of running for a 3rd term if he had Presidential plans.

(1) Huntsman has had diplomatic experience before, as Singapore Ambassador under Bush Sr. and Deputy Trade Representative under Dubya, so he's apparently qualified for the position.

(3) Ambassadorship to China is one of the great important plumb jobs in the State Department, same appointment that Chuck Hagel turned down. I mean if you're gonna tempt a successful politician with such a gig, Beijing is good.

(4) We've had U.S. Presidents who previously were Ambassadors, from John Quincy Adams (Portugal/Netherlands/Prussia) to Bush Sr. (United Nations/Envoy to China).

(5) Huntsman probably realized that with the current GOP environment, especially the fringe elements running the asylum, why waste a possible year or two for a campaign you don't think you can win, much less win over a base that already is against you.

(6) So in '12, let the wingnuts get their base candidate, i.e. Palin or Huckabee or perhaps even Romney, and let them get crash into the brick wall, i.e. Mondale in 1984. Let them decapitate themselves, and allow more sane options to run in '16, like Crist or Huntsman or whatever. To march through a jungle, you have to cut the vines.

 (7) Hunstman, like me and most of RFO I assume, probably thinks that none of the supposed leading '12 GOP contenders can probably defeat Obama.

(8) Plouffe publicly claimed that Huntsman "scared him," and I'm reminded of when Dick Morris (back when he was Clinton's top campaign advisor, not basher) claimed the 1996 GOP candidate they feared worst in campaigning against was Lamar Alexander....who ultimately amount to squat in the primaries. Same with Huntsman if he had run in '12, but in '16 he could have had momentum like Gary Hart in '88 (minus the candidancy-killing affair)

(9) Obama sure is weeding out any possible GOP rivals, isn't he? Huntsman is working for the Administration now, Crist is running for Senate instead, Palin is deconstructing on her own without any help, Jindal/Sanford/Perry and other GOP Governors still tainted by publicly opposing the Stimulus, and Crist still tarred with the base for supporting it.

And Romney/Huckabee should just get into a steel cage match and get it over with to become the Anti-Palin candidate. And Newt...who cares what he thinks anymore? He's stale 1990s this side of Spud McKenzie, except Spud at least was a cute mascot.

Yes, I intentionally ignored Pawlenty. He's a VP or Cabinet guy, not a Commander-In-Chief, you know?

(10) Back to point #8, Obama is trying his best to pick his opponent for '12, much like Nixon (w/ Plumbers) did in 1972 by helping to sabotage Muskie, get McGovern the fringe leftie nominated, and pound him like a drum in November.

(11) And he'll probably get her.


 This is an excellent post on your part sir, and I'm glad to have gotten this viewpoint from you.  I agree that the ambassadorship to China is NO SMALL JOB, and our prez pretty much could kill multiple birds with one stone here.

 We'll see what happens, but if the GOP is already looking in 10' to make changes, I think that's way too late.  They must get more moderate quickly but I'm not betting on it.

This will actually look great for Huntman's resume and help a 2016 run for President, especially if Pres. Obama has a great 8 years.

 After reading this I KNOW out Prez. made the right choice.

Huntsman on his adopted daughter:

Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, have seven children, including a daughter adopted from China.

"When I look at Gracie Mei, I do not see a child that looks different than my other children," Huntsman said of his daughter of Chinese heritage in that 2006 speech. "I do not see someone who is of Chinese descent instead of Northern European ancestry. When I see Gracie Mei, I see my daughter. I see someone whose heart beats just like mine and whose spirit is just as resilient - whether it was born in rural China, like hers, or urban California, like mine. Nor do I judge her based upon any interpretation of the role of the individual in society - derived from Confucian or Jeffersonian ideals.

"Rather, I see my Chinese daughter through a prism of common humanity and understanding," he said. "A reminder that the most important thing you will do with your education or that I will do as an elected official, is to improve the human condition - through better economic opportunity, education, quality of life, and security - regardless of which side of the Pacific we came from."

BTW: He unfortunately is the kind of moderate republican that the GOP is kicking out of the party....

What a shame....


 I will not throw the first punch but I wil certainly throw the last.....President Barack Obama.

I think we can say this is an official RFO thumbs-up on Huntman's appointment! He is obviously well-qualified. The fact that he is a good father and a decent human being is icing on the cake!

I just can't imagine that Huntsman would do this unless it was something he really wanted to do, and I suspect that the current climate against anybody who isn't hard right helped him make this decision.

Andrew Sullivan said something shrewd about Obama's politicking:

Don't under-estimate Obama's policial cunning, guys. But for those of us with some small hope of restoring decency and moderation to the right, this is a major blow. What Obama is doing is bringing all the sane conservatives  - from Crist to Huntsman to Gates - into his orbit.

And Cheney gets to be the the face of the GOP future.

Andrew never disappoints.  His blog is one of the best out there.  He is a very astute columnist/blogger.

And I certainly agree:  Never underestimate Barack Obama....if you do it is  to your own peril.


 I will not throw the first punch but I wil certainly throw the last.....President Barack Obama.

It would be hard for Huntsman in the primary as a moderate. Being an ambassador of China sure looks good, if he chooses to run in 2016.

And Plouffe is right in ´fearing´him, I know a lot of Dems that respect him and think he has great potential as a national candidate. 

A moderate such as Huntsman could win my GOP vote again.  My hope is that the Rep party doesn't waste a good candidate in 2012 in a run against Obama.  With every day that passes, I am more convinced that our nation did the right thing in electing him, and he will need two terms to accomplish his goals.  Let the GOP run a right wing wacko against him then, suffer sound defeat, and learn the lesson that most Americans are somewhere in the middle.   Lessons learned the hard way are usually the most lasting.

I admire our faith in him Suzi, but he should get a tough reelection. His biggest enemy is political complacency. Besides Krugman, there is no-one on the left big enough to critize him (particularly on the bank bailout and rubinite-economics).

I think he should get 8 years too, but that doesn´t mean he shouldn´t be challenged on his accomplishments in the mean time.

We´ll be better off for it. 

I think that goes without saying...
Again, you are so right!!
Not sure if we featured it here, but did you see that Graham was heckled for suggesting a welcoming of Moderate Republicans? It seems all but certain the GOP will run an ultra- conservative and seems determined to self-destruct. I'd certainly consider Huntsman for 2016. I wonder what Dem will be in line to run at that point? How about Michelle Obama? That would be our sneaky way to keep Obama's agenda going. With so much to fix, he needs lots of time!

I did see that about was disheartening.

You know, I've had the same thoughts about Michelle. ;-)  She could certainly be a new and improved HRC....MUCH IMPROVED!!

Who said this? Lindsay Graham?

Equation for the GOP of today:

Moderates = RINOs + Democrats = Not real Republicans = Not GOP candidates = More losses = More whining

Yep...Lindsay Graham.  It seems that some Republicans are waking up to the fact that the GOP cannot win without moderates and independents.  Baby steps.....;-)
I hated Hillary, but at least she was elected twice to the U.S. Senate. What resume does Michelle hold? If anything, she's rehabilitated her image from a polarizing figure last year to a very much loved First Lady because she's avoided any real political statements or actions. No hating on her or the sleeveless arms, just...the reality? As for Graham, the guy is conservative...even possibly a closet-case hypocrite, but that's besides the point, which is that even he knows the facts, yet the rest of his party wants to ignore those facts and make up some of their own. Thats probably why I want a Palin or a similar base fringe candidate to be utterly decimated in '12, so give the GOP moderates a chance to retake the party, and climb out of the cliff those folks drove off. A McGovern or Mondale whipping would be sufficient.

<Thats probably why I want a Palin or a similar base fringe candidate to be utterly decimated in '12, so give the GOP moderates a chance to retake the party, and climb out of the cliff those folks drove off>

That's pretty much the way I feel too, RRA.  I think it will take a sound defeat of a wingnut to really move the party away from the hard right, and give us a chance to govern with "we the people" at the forefront.

I also forgot to mention in my Talking Points, but besides Bush Sr. and John Quincy Adams, we've had four other Presidents who previously were Ambassadors: Martin Van Buren, James Madison, James Buchanan, and John Adams.

Those 4, plus Quincy Adams, were at one time or another Ambassador to the UK.

Suzi - Unfortunately there is one flaw to my pet theory: 1988.

 After Mondale suffered the biggest defeat in Presidential election history, Gary Hart the moderate candidate was the favorite to win the Democratic nomination in '88. A Clinton he would have been, four years earlier. But Hart got busted for his affair, and that went up in smoke.

Al Gore still could have prevailed, but on Super Tuesday Jesse Jacksonwon a few token primaries (i.e. South Carolina), which chopblocked Gore, and Michael Dukakis the traditional liberal (and terrible) candidate wins...and gets decked by Bush Sr. in November after the Willie Horton, snoopy tank, and other disasters.

My comment about Michelle was said more in humor. However, she is very intelligent, and will certainly gain much experience in her role as first lady. I think she is doing a terrific job. Does that help her resume? Yes. Presidential material? Not sure. I just thought it would be fun to float the idea. After seeing what her husband went through during the campaign, I am doubtful this would be her aspiration!

Huntsman is a great choice, not only from the political gamesmanship that it shows, but also the fact that Obama found a moderate from the GOP who can speak the language. That in itself shows respect to his host country. 


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The enemy of "the best" is not "the worst." The enemy of "the best" is "good enough."

The only thing I wonder is: what was Huntsman's role in the McCain campaign? He does not seem like the type who would be thrilled with the negative route-did he advise against it? What was his reaction to the Palin pick and the sharp right turn? With his intelligence it must have been so painful to watch Palin struggle with foreign policy, etc.

There is an article in the New Yorker on seems that he is hoping to pull a George.H.W. Bush. His plan is to disappear for while and hopefully come back as fresh face in 2016.  and he is also hoping that by then the GOP will moderate itself....

I will not throw the first punch but I wil certainly throw the last.....President Barack Obama.

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