Jon Weaver, an aide to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has been nominated to become U.S. Ambassador to The People’s Republic of China, said that if the G.O.P. goes the way of Palin, Limbaugh, or Cheney in 2012, they will be resoundingly defeated:
The Republican strategist who helped Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman prepare for a possible presidential run says the Republican party is in for a devastating defeat if its guiding lights are Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney. “If it’s 2012 and our party is defined by Palin and Limbaugh and Cheney, then we’re headed for a blowout,” says strategist John Weaver, who advised Huntsman and was for years a close adviser to Sen. John McCain. “That’s just the truth.”
Huntsman, a favorite of GOP moderates, left the Republican presidential race last week after accepting President Obama’s offer to become U.S. ambassador to China. Before that, Huntsman appeared to be working hard on preparations for 2012. “He had not made a decision to run for president, but he had made a decision to prepare to run,” says Weaver. “We were probably a month away from announcing the formation of a political action committee, so we were pretty far down the road.”
Weaver is hardly the person the Republican Party should heed advice from. Aside from advocating for the eventual lackluster G.O.P. nominee, he was forced to resign from his post as top adviser when Senator McCain wasn’t carrying any traction on the trail, with campaign coffers so dry that the 72 year old Vietnam hero had to carry his own bags through airports. In any case, this is not to overlook Governor Huntsman’s credentials (and wealth), a combination that would have made him a very, very formidable candidate in 2012:
As a business executive, he was chairman of Huntsman Corporation, a multi-national petrochemical corporation based in Salt Lake City, and served as the first president and CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation at the University of Utah. His public service career includes serving as a White House staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan. Under President George H.W. Bush, he was deputy assistant of commerce for trade development, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, as well as U.S. ambassador to Singapore (the youngest U.S. ambassador in a century). He is fluent in Mandarin. He also served as a deputy U.S. trade representative and U.S. trade ambassador under President George W. Bush.
Smart move by President Obama. Aside from the most obvious political considerations — and most importantly — the choice of Huntsman takes account of the strategic gravity placed on Sino-American issues. But the choice of Huntsman also puts another level of prestige, experience and expertise below Obama’s primary political nemesis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Remember that it was Clinton who was supposed to compete for the China portfolio with the other Asian “expert,” Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner? It appears that Dick Morris was right, all that stands between Clinton and her legacy is a glut of foreign policy experts and diplomats with cabinet level status.