Huntsman – Too Sane and Too Informed for a Tea Party Crazed GOP?

When you decide you want to try to offer a new product or service whether in a new or existing business, you try to determine if there is a market for it. Is there a need for the new product or service, or through marketing can you create a desire for it? If you are introducing a new product to compete with existing products, how is your product different from the other products and is that difference something that people will find appealing?

Candidates can work in a similar way. From his campaign rollout speech, it is clear that Mr. Huntsman is trying to position himself as the one reasonable candidate who respects his Republican rivals for the nomination and ALSO respects President Obama. On Obama, Huntsman said that while he respects him, he just has a different vision for the country. Huntsman is also a smart guy who taught himself Mandarin Chinese, was the US Ambassador to China and Governor of Utah, knows American history and can speak knowledgeably about foreign policy issues.

For all that, there is a major problem with Candidate Huntsman. He is a product whose features have no market among the Republican electorate.

Republicans have no interest in a candidate who actually knows something. They seem to find willful ignorance irrelevant or even charming in a candidate. For instance, Sarah Palin’s butchering and ignorance of history and current events is legend. Not only does she make up history as she goes along, when her error was pointed out, she insisted her version of Paul Revere’s famous ride (he rode out to warn the British not to try to take our guns) was correct even though we are in the internet age when it is easy to look up such things and find out the truth. One of the last living really intelligent ultra-conservatives, Margaret Thatcher, refused to meet with Palin when Palin traveled to the UK to see Thatcher. As much as I disagree with many or most of Ms. Thatcher’s decisions as Prime Minister, I can only opine from a distance that Thatcher didn’t want her legacy and brand of conservatism tarnished by meeting with someone who views being informed as an unnecessary inconvenience.

Michele Bachmann hasn’t been on the national stage as long as Palin, but she is working hard to catch up in ignorant quotes. Bachmann has produced gems like, “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” Bachmann may want to read this. If she still is unconvinced, maybe she will agree to be hooked up to a tank of the stuff to breathe for a while. I think Bachmann got her idea for this quote from Ann Coulter, who claimed that radiation is good for you. If Ann really feels that way, I don’t understand why she isn’t at Fukushima offering to clean the whole thing up with her bare hands. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) would almost certainly offer her many times her regular speaking rate to do it.

The Republican base has no interest in a candidate who is reasonable. The most successful GOP politicians and pundits are those whose mouths routinely spew hyperbole and false accusations against the President and other Democrats. Both of the lies that Politifact awarded “Lie of the Year” for the past two years were uttered by Republicans against President Obama and both were popular with the Republican base (2010 lie of year – “President Obama’s Healthcare Plan is Government takeover of Healthcare” and 2009 lie of year – “Obama’s health care plan includes death panels for seniors). You still here both of those lies parroted regularly by Republicans.

The list of lies doesn’t include the myriad of just plain crazy statements that have become the hallmark of the Republican party post-Election 2008. Statements like those from Republican congressional candidate Hans Zeiger, who said he objects to the Girl Scouts and their cookies on the grounds that they are, “A breeding ground for homosexual, ‘pro-abortion’ feminists.”. I just want to let Mr. Zeiger in on a little Biology 101. It’s pretty tough to get pregnant from lesbian sex. and that being the case, the amount of abortions from resulting pregnancies has to be pretty miniscule (read: none).

Who also can forget Newt Gingrich’s utterance earlier this year warning us about America being in danger of becoming, “An atheist country dominated by radical Islamists”. Newt needs to enlighten us on how you can be an atheist and a “radical” practitioner of any religion, the point being that you can’t. It is an impossible contradiction and a crazy thing to say. Somehow, the Republican base can’t get enough of that kind of craziness.

The lies and unreasonableness seem to have flowed directly from the Tea Party astroturf movement. The Tea Party loves crazy signs, disrupting Congresspeoples’ town hall meetings with their constituents, and toying with violent and secessionist rhetoric. While the Tea Party movement seems to have faded, the love of all things crazy seems to have stuck with the Republican base.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is perfect for all of the above reasons and that is why Republicans are courting him to jump into the race. He has made several statements threatening for Texas to secede from the United States. He refused some of the free stimulus money for his state that it turned out he eventually needed and had to borrow. Texans can thank him for having to pay that money back. Part of the stimulus money he did accept he used to rebuild the Governor’s mansion, i.e., his temporary home. I guess that was more important than whatever else Texas needed.

Perry will have his hands full with Michele Bachmann in terms of proving who is more willfully ignorant, secessionist and crazy. As sad as it sounds, it looks like who “wins” that contest will determine who wins the Republican nomination.

With the above being the reality of life in the GOP, there is no room in the Republican Party for a reasonable person like Jon Huntsman. The Republican base is not looking for such a person and will not be able to appreciate him now that he has shown up. Huntsman may or may not be as conservative on economic and social issues as Bachmann or Perry, but if he doesn’t bring “the crazy” the GOP base won’t be the slightest bit interested. I doubt Huntsman ever draws more than 5% in any poll or, if he lasts that long, primary or caucus.