The Boston Globe’s endorsement of Huntsman

Huntsman in South Carolina in August.

The Boston Globe‘s endorsement of Jon Huntsman was strong, particularly in the way the paper set the scene and explained what was at stake (something most of the candidates have failed to do):

DISSATISFACTION WITH the economy, expressed in spasms of anger toward Wall Street and Washington; the dashed hopes of many who believed that Barack Obama’s election would create a new spirit of unity; and genuine uncertainty about Democratic health care reform – all of these have created an historic opportunity for the Republican Party. Just three years removed from a Republican administration that was roundly judged a failure, the party has a chance to renew itself – to blaze a path to bipartisan action on the budget, to introduce market-based solutions to health costs, and to construct a post-Iraq War network of alliances to promote global economic strength, knowing that true security comes from both peace and prosperity.

So far, Republican presidential contenders have shown little awareness of this opportunity. Far from promoting bipartisan unity, the GOP candidates have even abandoned Ronald Reagan’s “11th commandment” (“Though shalt not speak ill of another Republican”), shattering the party’s customary internal unity in an electric storm of name-calling and accusations. Rather than compare creative policy solutions, the candidates have vied for meaningless titles like “true conservative.’’ Rather than outline a vision for a safer world, they’ve signaled a return to Bush-era posturing and disdain for allies who don’t blindly serve American interests…

Then, there is the reasoning presented for Huntsman himself:

With a strong record as governor of Utah and US ambassador to China, arguably the most important overseas diplomatic post, Huntsman’s credentials match those of anyone in the field. He would be the best candidate to seize this moment in GOP history, and the best-prepared to be president.

Huntsman governed Utah as a clear conservative who nonetheless put the interests of his state ahead of ideology. He delighted right-wing supporters by replacing a graduated state income tax with a flat tax. Strong economic growth put Utah in the top five in job creation during Huntsman’s tenure, while he gave tax credits to companies developing solar energy. He offered a sweeping school choice plan, and joined the Western Climate Initiative, which set goals for reducing greenhouse gases.

When the national economy fell into recession, some Republican governors made a show of rejecting federal stimulus money on ideological grounds; sensibly, Huntsman took the money. While he endorsed the notion of a federal stimulus, he also offered a credible critique of the way the Democratic Congress had structured the plan. Then, when Obama offered him the post of ambassador to China, Huntsman accepted. Other Republicans, such as New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg, couldn’t bring themselves to accept entreaties from a Democratic president. Huntsman did. It attests to his sincerity when he vows to lead in a bipartisan spirit.

Serving as ambassador to China, the largest economic and military competitor to the United States, is a deeply meaningful credential. Notably, Huntsman’s nuanced foreign-policy vision of economic and strategic alliances stems from his time in Beijing. While other candidates point toward Cold War-style rejection and isolation of China, Huntsman promises deeper engagement. But he had the courage as ambassador to walk among protesters, drawing the ire of repressive Chinese authorities…

Now watch as Republican partisans dismiss the endorsement as worthless because it came from a “liberal newspaper.” Which to an intelligent person should be irrelevant, of course — either the endorsement shows wisdom or it does not. This one does, and that fact that partisans will dismiss it is further testimony, as if we needed any, to the distortions partisanship causes to the human mind.

A person free of such handicaps, an person with a penetrating, unfettered mind, can see that Huntsman has presented himself as the most serious, least desperate candidate. Even in small things: The Huntsman ad that I embedded here on the blog a few days ago shows a perspicacity, a discernment, a seriousness that no other candidate has either been able, or has dared, to show. A 30-second ad is a pathetic thing upon which to judge a candidate. But the tragedy of this nation is that so many voters base their judgments on so little. And it says a lot about Huntsman that he can pack more meaning into such a medium.

As The Globe says, Romney comes next in this regard, but his desperation to pander, to stoop to conquer, means he falls far short of Huntsman. And of course, The Globe knows Romney far better than I do.

27 thoughts on “The Boston Globe’s endorsement of Huntsman

  1. doug ross

    And he is to the left of Obama and closer to Ron Paul on the military interventionist policies of this country. Sounds good to me. Are you inboard Brad?

  2. Brad

    I don’t agree with him on everything. But then, I don’t agree with anyone on everything.

    You know who I found myself liking in the debate tonight — more than Huntsman? Santorum.

    But I’ve had relatively little exposure to Santorum, so I don’t know how long that would hold up.

    And I also liked a lot of things Huntsman said.

  3. doug ross

    So this year it will be the tough choice between Obama and Santorum? They are so alike, I am sure you and about three other Americans will face a similar quandary.

  4. Mark Stewart

    I would support the rhetorical fallacy of school vouchers if “home schooling” was in return defined as criminal child endangerment/neglect. Until then, no.

    I would never, however, support the idea of a flat income tax. Huntsman, even if it mattered, would have a very tough time articulating the good for the nation in that.

  5. Juan Caruso

    The Boston Globe just drove a stake into Huntsman’s infinitesimal prospects outside of New England.
    Waiting so long was hardly a very informative, influential or courageous action on the Globe’s part.

    It did, however, fill space for shareholders of its greedy parent corporation, the struggling New York Times.

  6. Kevin

    If you took Huntsman executive experience and (surprisingly) very conservative record as governor of Utah and combined with Rick Santorum’s hawkish foreign policy, you would have one great candidate in my opinion.

    The Romney campaign must have internal polling that scares them with the rise of Huntsman in NH. Why else would Romney – the guy who is supposedly the sober, moderate, won’t call Obama a socialist” candidate – attacking Huntsman now for having served his country when called to service – even if by a Dem president? Doesn’t that kind of attack seem beneath a front-runner to make?

    Maybe Henry Mac and the gang will have a job to do after all in SC if Hunstman comes out of NH with a head of steam…

  7. Doug Ross

    Here’s your man Huntsman on US foreign policy (quote was from this weekend in NH)

    ““We’ve done what we can do, folks,” he said. “I say, I want to bring our troops home. I want to say, we don’t need to be nation-building in Asia when this nation so desperately needs our attention. We don’t have a foreign policy that’s worth anything when we’re weak at home.” Big applause. “Iraq is not our nation’s future. Afghanistan is not our nation’s future.””

    So aside from his opinion on taxes, education, and foreign policy, you support him because he talks about working together?

  8. bud

    Huntsman has my vote come Jan 21. He does seem a likeable sort. His tax plan is pretty obnoxious but he seems far more grounded than the others in the GOP.

  9. Steven Davis

    @Mark – How exactly is home schooling “criminal child endangerment/neglect”? I know several people who home schooling their children, if anything I’d say they’re getting a better education than some SC public school systems. On top of that, they have parents who are involved in their education. I found it a little strange at first, but the more I see of it I don’t see any problems. Some of the children are involved in their local school’s extra curricular activities (sports, music, school plays, etc.).

  10. Bill

    Thanks for the quote,Mr Ross.Huntsman makes sense.No one else in the traveling freak show can do the same.The worst slate of Republican candidates in recent history,has squandered a real opportunity w/the dismissive attitude toward Huntsman.

    With Alan Wilson’s early endorsement,I think pragmatic Republicans have realized this for awhile.I’ve voted,’Dem’in every election since,1972.If Huntsman became the nominee,it would be the first time I’d even think of voting ‘Republican in a national election_

  11. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Steven and Mark–
    Actually, I’m with Steven on this. I had numerous juvie clients who were bullying victims, or simply found conventional schooling impossible, and they couldn’t afford private school, so they did online home school, or just home school, and actually graduated.

    I also think there are plenty of highly enriched home schools. We just need to make sure they all are at least minimally adequate!

  12. Nick Nielsen

    @Mark, there’s nothing inherently wrong with home schooling. When it’s done right, the results are s as good as (or better than) public or private schools, simply because the student gets individualized attention. There are some disadvantages (reduced interaction with other students and lack of science lab facilities are two of them), but academically, the requirements are the same.

    I do like New York’s requirement that students in grades 9-12 test at the end of the school year and must be in the 33rd percentile or higher of all test takers, though.

  13. Steven Davis

    Several years ago I worked with a woman who was home schooled up until she enrolled at USC. She was in the Honors College at USC and ended up graduating with honors.

    @Nick – With the collaboration of home schoolers and the ability for home schooled students to participate in their local public school’s extra curricular activities there’s no reason for reduced interaction with other students. I agree with the labs, but as far as I remember, physics and chemistry labs were just a reason to not sit at a desk for that class period… we didn’t really learn that much in them.

  14. Mark Stewart

    I realize my position is a bit inflammatory; but I feel badly for these home schooled kids. They aren’t going to have the skill set needed to thrive as adults. I certainly would likely never hire one.

    While I do believe that some parents who home school their kids are simply ignorant, I recognize that the majority do it believing that they are doing the right thing. In my opinion, they are not. I have a hunch that future scientific and psychological research will bear this out.

    Nick’s comment about NY State’s performance requirement absolutely floored me. If a parent takes their child out of a school environment to teach them one-on-one at home and the child can only test out at the 33-50 percentile level for high school, I would consider that a monumental failure on the part of the parent (assuming a similar child would be able to intellectually achieve at that level in a regular school setting).

  15. Maude Lebowski

    Republicans don’t have enough sense to nominate him, but Huntsman is the one most likely to pull votes from independents, conservative Democrats, and even moderate liberals (like me) who are disillusioned with Barry.

  16. `Kathryn Fenner

    Actually, Mark–I think home schooled kids can have great social skills. For one thing, they won’t be recovering from the trauma that is adolescent bullying.

  17. Mark Stewart


    Then they won’t be prepared for many careers. I don’t condone bullying by any means, but it’s a reflection of life in the real world. If kids don’t learn how to stand up to it, redirect it and work together to stamp it down then they won’t have the empathy and civic understanding to act well as adults in a social world.

    Anyway, the bullies are the ones who tend to fall by the wayside in life. Bullies aren’t the only group in kids’ lives; there are also those kids who turn their back and don’t know how to appropriately engage in social negotiation. Those are the ones who worry me most as adults – the myopic shirkers.

  18. Silence

    A lot of home-schooled kids that I knew were a bit strange and awkward, but not any worse than the kids who went to Montessori too long. I think that they definitely miss out on some socialization, but that if they go on to a traditional college experience, they’ll recover from it.
    I used to coach a high school athletic team, and I had a set of twins who went to the school for Freshman year and were home-schooled sophomore year. They continued to come and train with the team while they were being home schooled, and also participated in the Civil Air Patrol. I think that both of these activities and others helped them stay connected with their friends and not become too introverted. Junior year they were back to school, but senior year they were home-schooled again. It created havoc with my relays! Both went on to receive PhD’s in hard sciences from a major research university, so I guess they turned out OK. I don’t think they’d want or need to work for Mark…

  19. Steven Davis

    @Mark – “They aren’t going to have the skill set needed to thrive as adults. I certainly would likely never hire one.”

    How would you know? I’ve never filled out a job application where I had to put down my high school information. Well not since I’ve graduated from college.

    Those poor, poor home schoolers… probably destined for a life slinging french fries and working as the pit boy at Jiffy Lube.

  20. Steven Davis

    Mark, you do realize that there are standardized tests that home schooled children need to pass, not really that much different than the public school children take. You can’t do addition and subtraction and read Dick and Jane for 12 years and expect to get into college. You should really do some more research in home schooling before commenting further.

  21. bud

    Not sure how we got on to vouchers and home schooling but I’m going to get back to Huntsman and the rest of the GOP stooges. It’s beginning to look a lot like Willard has it sewed up. Tomorrow’s voting won’t say much but could effectively end a couple more GOP hopefuls chances. Next week in SC looks like the drive that puts it out of reach. The remaining primary season will amount to little more than a series of Victory Formations. But there’s still a slim chance if the voters pull a surprise tomorrow:

    Willard 1-4
    Newt 8-1
    Santorum 8-1
    Paul 10-1
    Huntsman 10-1
    Perry 50-1

  22. SusanG

    Half my family was/are partially or totally home-schooled. There’s nothing odd about them — they’re just normal kids! Some are in college (on-campus, regular schools) and doing great — one of the totally homeschooled (K-12th) kids is class president of her college class.
    (And Brockman Elementary, Richland One’s own pre-K through 5th grade Montessori program turns out loads of normal, capable kids every year).
    So, sorry, Mark — I often agree with you, but I have to disagree on this one! (I know some weird home-schooled kids, too, btw — but then some kids are just weird however they’re schooled).

  23. Norm Ivey

    Huntsman hasn’t a chance at the nomination, but I’ll likely cast my vote for him on January 21. I don’t like everything he says (he wants to shut down Fannie and Freddie), but he is a moderate who seems to be willing to work with others to solve problems. He’s intelligent and I trust him. I can’t say that about any of the other major GOP candidates.

    I also like Buddy Roemer–another reasonable, intelligent, trustworthy candidate. He’s putting a big emphasis on campaign finance reform–get the money out of politics. I like that.

    As a teacher, I am compelled to weigh in on the issues of vouchers and home schooling. I’ve never looked at what the research says about home schooling, so my point of view is based on anecdotes, but that seems to be the trend in this thread.

    I have taught students that later went on to a home school program, and for those whom I heard news, they seemed to do fine. On the other hand, I have had students enter my class after years of home schooling, and I have never had one who was performing on grade level when they came to me, and most were socially lacking. Their social ineptness may have been due to their home schooling, or they may have just been odd birds. Some adjusted quickly; others not so much. I have known of students whose parents withdrew them from school in order to home school, but sent them back when they found out how tough it was. A relative of mine home schools his children, and they are all at least one year behind.

    Parents seem to be in one of two groups when they choose to home school. Some, like my relative, choose to home school for religious reasons. (The science book they used disturbed me. In public school science classes we do not dismiss or discuss religious beliefs, but this book made an argument that scientists–the Evolutionists–were instruments of Satan himself.) Other parents home school because they believe they are better equipped to teach their children than the schools are. Some are, but many are not.

    I don’t think vouchers are a completely bad idea, but I would support them only if they were based on need, rather than an identical sum for every student. Providing a $5000 voucher to a family to use towards a $10,000 tuition is the same as providing them nothing at all if there is no way for them to raise the additional $5000. I’ve lived in South Carolina for over 30 years, and I wouldn’t expect the legislature to do it the right way.

  24. Mark Stewart

    SusanG, I would never lump Brockman’s Montessori program in with home schoolers! My point is that we are social creatures and that group settings for learning – as opposed to strictly group learning – are much more positive experiences for children than those that can be achieved in a home setting with a parental figure. Others are free to disagree with that viewpoint.

    Norm, classroom anecdotes about home schooling experiences appreciated – they are far better than my off-the-cuff remarks on the topic. And yes, I did kind of derail the Huntsman angle of the post. However, as much as I agree with you that his character and outlook are very positive in this GOP race, Huntsman’s individual issue positions can at times (as you pointed out) be a bit whacked. I think his China experience is a huge plus for him; but then his resume begins to break down from there for me.

  25. `Kathryn Fenner

    @Mark Stewart–Extroverts are social creatures. Much harder for introverts, and all jobs do not require the social skills of a real estate broker.

  26. Silence

    I know it’s not a valid statistical sample, but 100% of the kids whom I knew that went to Montessori beyond 1st grade turned out weird. Maybe they came from strange families though, and that’s why they went to Montessori for 1st-8th grades…
    If I couldn’t afford a proper private school, and I had to choose between putting my daughter at the Richland 1 schools that we are zoned for, homeschooling, or moving, I don’t know what I’d do! That’s kind of a Sophie’s choice.

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