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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama's Brilliant Coup

Yesterday, President Obama showed everyone just how formidable a politician he is. Inside his camp, the most threatening rival appeared to be John Huntsman, Governor of Utah. Huntsman had developed a reputation for not only moderation but effective governance. He enjoyed high approval and an excellent reputation. He was starting to become a serious threat in 2012. How did Obama deal with that threat? He appointed him envoy to China.

With a reach across the political divide for Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China, President Barack Obama may have sidelined for now a potentially formidable Republican moderate and possible White House challenger in 2012.

Yet Huntsman, who has upset the GOP's conservative base by supporting gay civil unions, may gain, too. The appointment, which requires Senate approval, gives him a chance to burnish his credentials and position himself as a viable presidential contender in 201state6, if Obama appears to be a strong candidate for a second term in 2012.

The beauty of this move is that it also makes perfect sense for Huntsman. As a Governor, the biggest deficiency he would face in any potential Presidential run would be his lack of foreign policy experience. By being appointed ambassador to China, he instantaneously removes that negative. While Huntsman is now no longer a candidate to run in 2012, he strengthens his candidacy in 2016 and beyond.

He also creates all sorts of other bonafides. He strengthens his moderate image. This will strengthen his appeal to both moderates and even liberals. While moderation is usually a negative in the primaries, his image is already that of a moderate. By doing this, he carves that space out all to himself. If he is to survive the primaries, this move will be a huge coup in the general election. In the end, both men win and ultimately it's a huge coup for Obama.


Anonymous said...

Your article implies that the Republicans tolerance for moderates will increase by 2016. Its just as possible Huntsman's rivals will accuse him of "collaborating" with Obama, to borrow from the "Obama as communist dictator" line of rhetoric.

mike volpe said...

Obviously, during both primaries being a moderate is difficult. That said, Huntsman is already a moderate. He isn't going to run as the conservative supporting civil unions et al. This gives him more moderate bonafides, foreign policy experience, and it shows that he can work with the other side. All of this helps in the general. In the primary, if he is the one that carves out the moderate position, he can win if he is running against several people that are running as conservatives.