A brief item by Michael Shear in Friday’s New York Times, “Huntsman Makes Bid To Step Out From Crowd,” faulted moderate Republican candidate Jon Huntsman for not sufficiently “standing apart from the pack” of conservative presidential candidates by calling for higher taxes – or in Shear’s words, “revenue increases.”
Shear called it a “missed opportunity,” as if Huntsman should have argued the liberal line on raising taxes solely to stand out from the conservative crowd.
Time magazine’s not being shy about who they like in 2012 GOP presidential field. A big spread in the May 23 edition is headlined "The Cool Kid: Jon Huntsman is a pro-civil union Mormon who spent nearly two years working for Obama." The main emphasis followed:
He is, after all, a pro-civil-union Mormon who has just finished nearly two years of service for Obama in the land many Americans consider the new evil empire. He is pro-environment — a little too green for many in his party — and hardly anyone knows who he is. Though Huntsman's path to the nomination is a certified long shot, you have to wonder why so many on both the right and left seem to be freaking out at the prospect of his jumping into the race.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a moderate Republican and conservative tweaker who is leaving his post as President Obama’s ambassador to China, is considering a Republican presidential run, according to New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, whose flattering profile of Huntsman graced Wednesday’s paper: “He’s Done Working for Obama. Now He May Challenge Him in ‘12."
Three months before President Obama nominated Jon M. Huntsman Jr. as ambassador to China, Mr. Huntsman arrived here to introduce himself to three dozen influential Republicans and talk politics with them over dinner at the Palmetto Club.
Mr. Huntsman, then serving his second term as governor of Utah and prospecting for his political future, worried aloud that Republicans were growing out of touch with a generation of Americans. If the party wanted to win national elections again, he argued, Republicans needed to broaden their appeal to young voters, Hispanics and independents.
Uncovering secret moderation among Western conservative yokels in the age of Obama is becoming a specialty of the New York Times's Western-based reporter Kirk Johnson. On Inauguration Day, Johnson wrote in condescending fashion about the "orderly phalanx marching behind Mr. McCain" in Oklahoma, which had the bad taste to give McCain his largest margin of victory in any state.
This Saturday, he profiled Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. in the negatively headlined "G.O.P. Governor Challenges Utah's Conservative Verities." The text box reads: "The governor breaks with conservative orthodoxy and is still popular." Basically, Johnson sees the death of conservatism in the repeal of Utah's one-of-a-kind liquor laws. Until last week, the state required patrons to purchase a membership in a bar's "private club" before they could have a drink.
Among Utah Republicans, who hold every statewide elected office and more than two-thirds of the State Legislature, Hamlet-like quests for purpose and direction are hardly the norm.
But the norms are dead for Republicans here, something that was in plain view this week as lawmakers overhauled the state's formerly untouchable liquor law at the urging of Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
The debate was about scrapping the state's one-of-a-kind system of regulating bars and restaurants in a bid to boost the economy. But bound up in it was a profound, ongoing dialog, led by Mr. Huntsman, about what the Republican Party should be about and who should lead it.