The Protagonist of Primary Politics – And Other Fun Stories of Misadventure

Jon Huntsman, Jr.There are many thoroughbreds of character and honor who find stalls in our wonderful stable of Republican presidential candidates. But one stands above them all.

Just one man — a man of courage and conviction. One who sees the great contest for what it truly is. And today, this one man — the one with the finest breeding and most excellent, rigorous tutoring —

“called on his fellow candidates to join him in boycotting the [Nevada] debate and ‘avoiding typical hypocritical politics by paying lip service to New Hampshire, while campaigning in Nevada.'”

Oh the power! Oh the loyalty! Oh the humility of one who stands alone… [Cue the woeful, mourning strings and french horns]


In an article on, former Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. plays this part to the hilt.

Forgive me if his entire grandstanding of this issue is lost on me…

In a nutshell, here’s how it goes down:

Quoting from Wikipedia,

“The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties.”

So why all the hullabaloo about lip service and hypocritical politics as it relates to Nevada?

Well, it seems that Iowa has always been first with its caucuses, followed by the primaries of the great state of New Hampshire. And it’s actually a matter of state law that New Hampshire run the first primary.

Now isn’t that just priceless? A state mandates through legislation that it alone shall be first.

Are we beginning to see where this is headed?

So they had to go and do it, didn’t they? Even after being penalized in the last round of presidential elections, other states (including Nevada) decided that they too wanted to bask in political glory. They weren’t going to just sit back and find themselves third, seventh, or — heaven forbid — thirteenth!

No, it was time for action. And other states decided to take it!

[Enter our hero — the one candidate with scruples — stage left]

But here’s the rub…

Huntsman isn’t the lone voice of integrity in the wilderness that he tries to make himself out to be. Indeed, he’s trying to out-master the master players.

To better appreciate what I’m talking about, let’s look at a couple of things.

First, as I related in a prior piece, Mr. Huntsman made a fool of himself in his effort to bludgeon poor Governor Rick Perry with his own words — and to make it humorous in the bargain. Basically, it fell flat on its face. His stunned, twisted little half-grin was only matched by the awkwardness of the attempt and the stultified silence of the audience.

In truth, he probably thought that line was going to be pretty clever, having likely come up with it at the hotel that morning while tying to polish his sound bites. He and his campaign consultants probably laughed themselves silly.

And then, when it came time for the debate, he bode his time and stalked stealthily until he had discovered the perfect moment to…

POUNCE! Oh Yeah!!

Only the calculated, precision-response pounce quickly revealed itself to be an unmitigated flounder.

And then, in a flash, all sane conservatives (and the entire cohort of bankable independents) collectively reached the same conclusion:

This is not presidential material.

So let’s analyze a bit what’s really in play here. (And I guarantee you it isn’t an altruistic conviction of honor in politics.)

In terms of the umph needed to leap into the so-called “top tier” of candidates, Huntsman needs some currency — both political and the hard kind. And hard currency most often follows political prowess.

Enter the “New Hampshire moral ascendancy through feigned ethics” opportunity.

From Huntsman’s politically driven perspective, he can use this moment in three ways

  • He gains political capital in New Hampshire, the darling of the Republican nominating process. He alone stands with them, while others abandon them in favor of a meaningless debate in naughty Nevada.
  • He generates a swirling press swarm, hungry like locusts to bite off every little last nibble of each leaf left in the fields. The others candidates get relegated to the back pages of yesterday’s news stories.
  • And, he alone provides his own propaganda for himself, standing above the fray, in shining armor as it were, while lesser, benighted beings are forced to grovel on the path to the nomination.

Do I come across as cynical?

It seems especially wrong that Huntsman — a Mormon (celebrated for their kindness, honesty, and renown work-ethic) — should take a stab as part of all this at his fellow Mormon, former governor Mitt Romney.

(Unless you count the fact that Romney plays a sublime political game; just as it was passed down to him by his fathers.)

Truth is, I can’t stand “politics as usual.” And I don’t think the American public can either.

But what’s a public to do? If our best hope lies with people who’ve studied and refined their efforts in the game, surround themselves with political operatives adept at the game, and then follow its rules to propel themselves ever higher, well…

In this instance, I think it comes down to this:

Huntsman can’t compete yet with Romney in the fundraising arena. That means he can’t afford to be in New Hampshire and Nevada, nor does he have the staff or logistics for it.

Furthermore, Huntsman has put all his eggs into the N.H. basket. If he can make a good showing there — perhaps even win — he just might be able to propel his candidacy to loftier heights; or at least set himself up with name recognition for the next contest in four years.

In short, it’s Huntsman’s best card to play.

And now who’s “paying lip service” (in this case, to honorable campaigns)? Now who’s engaged in “typical hypocritical politics?”

As we can see, this is the problem with our whole political mess. It’s completely in the looking glass. Nothing is as it seems. Truth turns to flagrant falsehoods — honor to dishonor.

It’s sad, really…

But getting back to this question on who should hold the first primaries, I do have one suggestion.

Why don’t we just spread the love around? Let Nevada be first this year; and Texas the next. Let North Dakota get a chance; and don’t forget Hawaii wants in too. If we would do this, we could eliminate the jockeying for position that goes on between the states.

I’m sorry, but to me, jealousies and legally mandated pride just doesn’t cut it. None of it meets the needs of We the People, though it sure helps outs the candidates.

Nope. If we want to see anything being turned around through the mirror, it should be that polished politics are finally supplanted by character and integrity.

[Exit stage right]


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