Huntsman and Gingrich: “A Festival of Self-Congratulation”
Politico reports on the Huntsman-Gingrich debate, in which every negative stereotype about both candidates is validated:
The meeting of two presidential candidates here today was billed as a successor to the Lincoln Douglas debates, but turned out to be a festival of self-congratulation intended less to tease out differences between Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman than simply signal their status as serious men.
No criticism of these two could do a better job of demonstrating their self-importance and pretension than what happened today. Not surprisingly, the display worked in Gingrich’s favor:
But the debate, though nominally about foreign policy, was as much about reiterating Gingrich’s central pitch to Republicans: That he’s a man of depth and seriousness, ready to take on President Barack Obama and to restore American leadership – and that the Establishment frontrunner, Mitt Romney, lacks that gravitas.
To the extent that Huntsman has helped lend valuable credibility to Gingrich, his role in the 2012 race has gone from being an amusing curiosity to something genuinely pernicious. It is telling that Huntsman was in a head-to-head debate with the most apocalyptic, dangerous major Republican candidate in the field, and he could hardly muster any serious disagreement with him:
Indeed, Gingrich and Huntsman agreed so often that two members of the press, and Huntsman’s young daughters, dozed at points during the 90-minute debate. Most disagreements were hard to detect, and quickly papered over.
Fortunately, Huntsman doesn’t pander! Later in the story, we are presented with the spectacle of Huntsman approving of Gingrich as a top VP vick:
“Based on Speaker Gingrich’s excellent performance, he is definitely, definitely at the top of my shortlist of people to consider for the vice presidency of the United States,” Huntsman said.
I hope this extinguishes whatever enthusiasm realists and non-interventionists had for Huntsman’s candidacy. Can he be serious? Gingrich is at the top of his short list? No doubt Gingrich is relieved that Huntsman is willing to consider him for the No. 2 position. Huntsman will be lucky to be considered for the role of Ambassador to Vanuatu in a Gingrich administration.