I get really sick of all the early campaigning out there, over a year before the election. I generally make a point to deliberately not follow any of it until just a few months before I vote, and even then I have to admit my primary source of election coverage is The Daily Show. However, I must admit that former Utah governor John Huntsman has stepped out of the line of clones twice now and gotten my attention. I fully admit I haven’t looked him up on other issues, but he’s worth looking into further, methinks.
The first time he blipped on my radar was this well-written article by Huntsman himself at http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/22/opinion/huntsman-foreign-policy/index.html?eref=rss_politics&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_allpolitics+%28RSS%3A+Politics%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher. Every other candidate from both parties has been addressing how our defense establishment can “do more with less,” but aside from Ron Paul’s occasional good suggestion (immediately followed by that usual Ron Paul thing of starting with a good idea and then spinning around and diving off the deep end of reality), I’ve heard of no other candidate addressing whether we should keep doing that “more” part (it was also a sign of hope that here’s a Republican candidate writing an OpEd piece for a left-leaning news source instead of trying to “yes-man” the audience at Fox News).
Huntsman is the first calling for an all-out reassessment of our strategy, and limitations on where and when we should get involved. Huntsman hits the other candidates and current Administration with a face shot by stating “First, they let resources drive strategy, rather than using strategy to drive force structure and capabilities. Second, they fail to fundamentally alter our defense posture — so any short-term savings will be quickly erased.” The first item I’ve been screaming about publicly and privately for years now, and with both points Huntsman take a huge – but integrity-laden – risk in threatening the defense industry. Even as an Independent he’s almost got my vote on that alone (if a registered Independent could vote in the Florida [my home of record] primaries).
He does seem to imply backing of the China-direct-threat Air-Sea Battle philosophy that I vehemently disagree with, as if either we or China are ever going to lift our forces en masse across the Pacific to go head to head with each other, and I also disagree with his criticism of the President sending an advisory and training force to Africa; foreign military assistance and building partnerships is one thing the U.S. does very well that costs little in treasure or lives – but I’m willing to set those on the back burner (for now) in light of largely agreeing with many of his other suggestions.
The second time I noticed him was making a fool of himself on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. I respect people who are willing to do that, because no one should always take themselves seriously, and that rule goes double for politicians. I thought his sucking up to Seth Myer was brilliant. Even if he didn’t write it himself, I was still impressed with his willingness to play along. As long as he doesn’t go overboard making self-deprecating comedy appearances, implying or revealing that it’s all a PR gimmick, it gives me hope that he’s actually human, and perhaps even a nice guy instead of some arrogant uptight entitled-feeling prick thinking he’s doing everyone else a favor by being there. The first time I ever actually, consciously wait for someone to carry my bags for me or plate my food, I hope I realize that I no longer belong wherever I am, and I also hope I duck before either my wife or one of my friends smacks me hard in the back of the head a’ la Mark Harmon on NCIS.
I think I’m going to be doing a little more research on Mr Huntsman, and at some point I’ll post on whether my instincts held up or mea culpa if I was wrong. Sadly, I don’t think he’ll make the final cut due to his questioning the status quo and that he isn’t just another political clone telling everyone what they want to hear, but I really wish he would have a strong chance; the status quo damn well needs questioning. I’ll close with one of the final statement in his OpEd that I also very much agree with: “being the best is not simply a function of spending the most.” More to come from me on Mr Huntsman, and I honestly hope there’s more to come from him.