Sometimes it just cracks me up how insular the DC media is and how much they can twist things based on their everything-is-related-to-the-next-election mentality. This example includes that, coupled with hatred for Obama (irrational) and presumptions about potential candidates and goes even further to imply that the whole twisted mess is President Obama’s fault. It’s a perfect example of the beltway media creating their own reality and running with it.
President Obama praised Jon Huntsman’s service to the country as ambassador to China upon his leaving and called him an “outstanding advocate for this administration and this country.” Those words on the face seem like a great endorsement for the man, it makes me like him for sure. Which is the problem according to the beltway press, if he is praiseworthy to the liberals, he must be horrible scum to the right-wing, right? By all accounts, Jon Huntsman has a lot of the qualities that make for a good candidate, lots of experience domestically and internationally, he’s handsome and he has money. But of course, he doesn’t quite fit the mold that the tea party republicans have recently modified. From Politico…
Yet Huntsman also has a history of taking moderate positions on the environment, immigration and gay rights. He’s publicly dismissed the importance of Republicans on Capitol Hill. And the Mormon faith he shares with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could hamper Huntsman with religious conservatives, much as it did Romney in 2008.
So he already has those strikes against him, and now to have the President of the United States praise you for your service, man, that has to hurt. :) Mark Halperin and a bunch of others call it “The Death Hug.” Ben Smith at Politico points out the one word that maybe put it over the line “If you’re looking for elements of the sabotage-the-moderates strategy, Obama probably didn’t have to use the word “administration.”
Now here is where it starts to get crazy in my opinion. So, because the president chose to praise him in his service, it must have been to throw red meat to the wingnuts and from the looks of it, that is exactly what the president and his people did. To me, that is the funny part of the whole thing. It shows me that the Obama administration is well aware of the hatred for him out in the country with some folks and the divisions within the Republican party that can be exploited. But is that hatred Obama’s fault, from Jonathon Chait’s piece…
But what happens the next time Obama wants a talented Republican like Hunstman to serve in his administration? Does he really want that Republican to contend not only with being attacked by fellow partisans in his next race, but knowing that Obama will be collaborating in the attack? if there is a calculation here, it seems like an awfully short-sighted one.
So the president’s “calculation” of praising a former employee profusely and how a bunch of wingnuts react to it – is somehow short-sighted, because I guess the next time he tries to get a Republican to join his administration, cough, spit, he will have trouble. Hmmmm, because there are sooooo many Republicans out there just dying to be in Obama’s administration. So according to Chait, that miscalculation that might prevent a Republican from joining his administration is sooooo much more important than who the president faces in the next election. Really, Jonathon? The chance that the President of the United States might praise you is enough to keep a Republican from serving a democratic administration, heaven forbid.
The Hunstman team’s response was pretty funny too…
“The president is clearly trying to meddle in the GOP primary because he wants to face the weakest possible opponent,” said a strategist who would be involved in a potential Huntsman campaign. “Trying to kill Huntsman with kindness this stage benefits him. It elevates him and plays right into the electability argument. Plus voters are smart enough to see through this type of tactic.”
So to team Huntsman, there really are not wingnuts in their party, they will see through this type of tactic. So what is all the fuss about?
Lastly, mistermix over at Balloon Juice sums it up better than I can, check it…
This pearl clutching was sparked by Mark Halperin, who thinks that the Obama Administration is exerting a “death hug” by saying that Huntsman was an excellent ambassador to China.
Perhaps Obama is being clever, or perhaps Jon Huntsman was just a good ambassador to China. But even if Obama is playing 11 dimensional chess, why is it his fault that the rump of the Republican party is so nuts that a little well-deserved praise from Obama disqualifies Huntsman as a 2012 contender? I expect that kind of stupidity from Halperin, but Chait should know better than to blame Obama for the insanity of the far right.
The only “collaboration” I see here is Chait’s, because he’s embracing a stupid beltway double-bind that makes as much sense as any other blame-the-victim logic: “Mommy should have realized that Daddy had too much to drink, so it’s her fault that Daddy punched her in the face.”
If the Republican party rejects talented moderates for doing something as uncontroversial as serving as an ambassador, then let that party pay the price by running unelectable clowns like Palin and Huckabee. And don’t concern troll us by calling it “short sighted” for Obama to execute a strategy that will almost guarantee his election in 2012.
(“Scrotum” is the right word, by the way. It’s an insult to a tough, resilient organ like the vagina to compare it to the average New Republic writer.)
I guess with the Tea Party wing of the Republican party playing with the big kids these days, we have to start thinking in “11 dimensional chess” ways these days with the village idiots in the game. Yeee haw!