I just saw on the news that President Barack Obama has just appointed Governor Huntsman of Utah as his new Ambassador to China. Some of you may be wondering why this is so brilliant. Follow me below the fold for this short diary explaining how President Obama is playing chess while the GOP is playing checkers.
Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. is the current governor of Utah and a Republican. And yes, I realize that's kind of redundant. However, he is not a typical Republican. He speaks fluent Mandarin, which is certainly not typical of the anti-intellectual wing of the party. He is also a diplomat, having served as the ambassador to Singapore under President George H. W. Bush and a deputy trade representative under President George W. Bush. So yes, he's qualified, but how is this so brilliant?
Well, Governor Huntsman is considered a moderate in Republican circles, as well as in the corporate media. For example, he has become a supporter of civil unions. He also signed a regional cap and trade agreement. So he's a young, articulate, moderate governor from a bastion of the conservative base. Oh, and he's a potential 2012 challenger.
But now? Now Governor Huntsman will be spending his days in Beijing working to advance American interests in the most populous nation on Earth. Now, I'm no diplomacy expert, but I have a feeling this would be considered a full time job and then some. It would certainly hinder his ability to visit New Hampshire and Iowa in the months leading up to 2012. And if he does leave his diplomatic post to come back and visit Iowa and New Hampshire, he'll leave himself open to criticism that he's putting his political ambitions ahead of the nation's security and well-being.
And if that's not a brilliant move, I don't know what is.