Conor Friedersdorf unpacks RedState guru Erick Erickson’s comments about why Jon Huntsman is, on paper, a solid conservative nominee for the GOP, but would never work. Conor:
By Erickson’s lights, Huntsman is more reliable and substantively conservative — he even has the bestposition on taxes, job growth, and deficit reduction — yet he is still said to be “running as the liberal in the race.” Yes, I know what Erickson means. Huntsman has deliberately levied criticisms at fellow conservatives, been conciliatory toward the media, and adopted the rhetorical style of a centrist, in much the same manner as Daniels. What I wonder is why Erickson puts style over substance in placing him on the political spectrum, and deciding whether or not he is worthy of support.
As if to underscore the absurdity of his criteria, Erickson goes on to say that “to even get me to half-way take him seriously… I think he’d have to get rid of Jon Weaver and show conservatives he actually is a conservative. Thus far, from his jokes at debates to his tweets, he’s come across as condescending. But he does like Nirvana. That’s something.”
So let’s sum it all up. If elected, Huntsman would likely behave in a way true to his relatively conservative record in Utah. Erickson likes his proposals on most issues, including the ones he finds most important. But in order to take Huntsman seriously, Erickson is going to need him to a) hire a new campaign strategist; b) make different jokes; and c) send different Tweets.
This is frivolity.
Read the whole thing. The conservative base prefers the candidate who would do better on a Fox News interview than in, you know, governing the country. This undoubtedly accounts for the clown Herman Cain’s continued success in the polls. The scandal isn’t that Herman Cain will probably collapse under the weight of sexual harassment charges. The scandal is that someone of his unbearable lightness got as far as he did on sloganeering and charm.
Did you read Michael Brendan Dougherty’s great TAC profile on Huntsman, making the case that he’s a serious politician and a serious conservative? Check this snippet out:
“I think it was through actual legislative victories that members of the legislature looked at us and thought, he is actually getting stuff done,” Huntsman says. His approval ratings got as high as 90 percent at several points during his years as governor. Initial reservations about him melted, and his legislation began passing with massive majorities. His gigantic tax-reform package sailed through both houses of the legislature unanimously.
“I have an easy rule of thumb,” says Hughes summing up his feelings on Huntsman. “If someone walks into the room and you cut $400 million in taxes and do school reform with him, you vote for him for president.” He turns fiercely protective of Huntsman’s credentials whenever a conservative outside Utah uses the word “moderate” to describe him.
“There’s a style he has that gets misinterpreted, and that’s a diplomatic style,” says Hughes, “he has reached out to all Utahns, and some people have mistaken his diplomatic approach for being a moderate. If you get to know the guy, his rudder is in the water.” Hughes has a point. For the past two decades a “moderate” Republican was one who generally didn’t side with his party on three issues: taxes, guns and abortion. Huntsman’s record on those isn’t just to the right of other moderates, it is to the right of most conservatives.
But he knows how to talk to liberals and he doesn’t pander to the conservative base. Can’t have that, I guess.