It’s odd to see Republicans struggling to find an electable candidate.They have 1: Jon Huntsman.They just don’t like him.
To me, that’s a fine thought with which I agree completely. I greatly respect Nicholas Kristof. But of course, with the great mass of GOP voters who seem determined in 2012 to run off a cliff together with the most Out There candidate they can find, it’s an invitation to like Huntsman even less. Because Kristof is a liberal. A very thoughtful, iconoclastic liberal (a guy who, for instance, persuaded me to have a big problem with Obama’s lack of support for the Colombian Trade Agreement in 2008) who is in no way like the ranting partisans of the left.
But that doesn’t matter. He’s a liberal, and that’s that. The kinds of Republicans who don’t like Huntsman — and there are a great many of them — are of the sort (and you find far too many such people in both parties) who are convinced that a person who leans the other way would only say good things about a candidate of their party as some sort of dirty trick meant to promote the weakest candidate.
That, of course, is extremely foolish in this context. If Kristof is up to anything underhanded in this instance (which he isn’t), it would be a sort of double-reverse move — I’ll praise the best candidate in their party so they’ll be sure not to like him.
This huge mass of post-2008 Republicans seem bound and determined not to nominate anyone who might win the general election. Which is very odd, given that they seem to dislike Barack Obama so much.
In 2008, a wonderful thing happened: Both parties actually chose the candidate most likely to appeal to the political center. I do not recall any time when that happened before in my adult life (or at least, I don’t remember the last time my own favorite candidates in both parties won their respective nominations).
At the time, of course, there was a faction that utterly rejected this approach, and for the longest time waged an “anybody but McCain” quest. (Ironically, the choice of the Right — such as Jim DeMint — was Mitt Romney, who this year is considered Mr. Moderate. Which shows you what’s happened since 2008.) Just as the more vehement partisans of the left insisted their party had to nominate Hillary Clinton.
Tragically, the conclusion that far too many Republicans have drawn from 2008 is that they were not extreme enough. (They fail to understand that McCain was defeated mainly by two factors: the collapse of the economy in mid-September, and his having chosen Sarah Palin as an attempt to please the very faction that didn’t like him.)
So they flit from Bachmann to Perry to, now, Cain. And in the polls, Romney remains bridesmaid to them all.
And they utterly ignore that there’s another moderate choice, one without Romney’s baggage: Huntsman.
Last night, when I brought of the Kristof Tweet on the show, co-host Phil Bailey (who works for the SC Senate Democrats) weighed in with how much he, too, liked Huntsman.
I don’t think that thrilled Joel, either.
Phil, I believe, really was employing the strategy of saying nice things about a strong candidate on the other side so that the other side wouldn’t like him. But don’t let that blind you to the fact that Huntsman is the candidate most likely to appeal to the center, and even to disaffected Democrats.