Jonny, We Hardly Knew Ye'

Unfortunately, he did talk… almost endlessly. The results of that gabfest were readily apparent; the conservative base didn’t like what they were hearing and stayed away in droves. But for us to accept Ed’s premise that Huntsman spoke as if he “despised conservatives” requires somewhat more of a leap than I’m willing to make. In what specific way was he showing disdain? Was it that he was not willing to reject the theory of evolution out of hand? (A position which is held by barely one quarter of the population, by the way.) Was it his climate change apostasy? For us to accept that this demonstrates some insulting dismissal in whole cloth of conservatism, it would mean that contested issues are “settled science” (which I’m guessing sounds familiar) and there is no room for debate inside the GOP tent on the fine points.

Wilson’s explanation may wind up being more palatable, but choosing the incendiary word “anger” tends to turn a value judgment into an accusation. I don’t accept that conservative voters are looking for someone to scream incoherently and hurl their own feces at the tourists. What they are shopping for is a candidate who will be forceful in their denunciation of the current administration, both on specific policy points and general values judgments. In short, they’re looking for a warrior who will fight the battle on every front and do so loudly and aggressively.

Huntsman was simply never that man. He not only committed the cardinal sin of taking a job working for Barack Obama (a flaw in the eyes of many, whether they choose to admit it in public or not) but also described the president in positive terms at times. Further, there is still a fairly virulent rejection of all things RINO running around the base, and while Huntsman was never actually a moderate while governing Utah, he played one on TV, as some are wont to say.

Huntsman’s strategy from the beginning, it seemed, was to set himself up as a candidate who wouldn’t scare away the moderates and independents with white hot conservative rhetoric, positioning himself for a general election victory. Unfortunately, as Wilson implies, that doesn’t work when attempting to summon up the legions of the faithful required to make it past the nominating process.

Farewell, Jon Huntsman. We hardly knew ye’.  And looking at the final set of polling data prior to his departure, “hardly” works out to be roughly 5%.