Peggy Noonan ponders the mysteries of the 2012 presidential race:
The continuing mystery of phase one? The failure of Jon Huntsman to gain traction. It’s not precisely a mystery—he didn’t run as a successful conservative two-term governor but as a striped pants diplomat—but it is a frustration. Democrats like him, a lot. New Hampshire has an open primary. Democrats can vote for him there. Maybe they will. But will that make him a contender or an oddity?
It’s not true that Huntsman ran as a “striped pants diplomat.” Yes, he made a point of mentioning the foreign countries he lived in and his two appointments as ambassador, and he goes out of his way to make himself sound as if he knows a lot about foreign policy, but his experience overseas and his time as a diplomat seem to have had no influence on how he approached any of the relevant issues. Huntsman has regularly cited his record as governor in debates and interviews. Few people seem to care about that record, but it hasn’t been for lack of presenting it to the media and the public.
He threatens war against Iran just as stupidly as Santorum or Gingrich, and he falls over himself to prove his “pro-Israel” bona fides just as embarrassingly as any other candidate. He makes dumb Kennan references that suggest he doesn’t know very much about Kennan. These are not the things that a “striped pants diplomat” does. This is what someone eager to please hard-liners or someone trying to impress an uninformed audience does. The mystery is why the supposed realist in the field is wasting his time trying to out-hawk his rivals. Hawkish interventionists will never trust him, and anyone even slightly interested in what Huntsman had to say will turn away in disgust.
Noonan mentioned elsewhere in her column that the candidates had not been making much use of humor in this campaign. Unfortunately, Huntsman has tried to use humor, but his jokes aren’t any good. His pop culture references are so dated that they make you wonder if he’s been paying attention to anything that has happened in this country in the last ten years.