Friday, October 21, 2011

Huntsman "embarrassed" by GOP debate

Jon Huntsman, talking to NextGen Journal, about Tuesday's presidential debate.

"I was totally embarrassed -- completely embarrassed by the lack of seriousness, the lack of focus on the issues that really matter to the American people.... It was more game-show-like than anything else."

As I wrote last week, Huntsman's awful campaign has veered from being civilly-minded to civil-war minded.

His campaign, thus far, has featured bizarre decisions and uneven rhetoric that’s been at various points both serious and silly — to the end that neither effect is really achieved. And Huntsman, the candidate who was supposed to be the paragon of steady strength, has flailed like a political rookie without any of the charisma that novelty normally evokes.

As befits a former ambassador, Huntsman has tried casting himself as the candidate who disdains political theater.

During the party’s recent debate over the role of Mormonism, he urged rhetorical restraint and cautioned against losing sleep over a theological argument that has little to do with governing or the country’s political fate.

.... But Huntsman has shown himself more than willing to veer from the high-minded to the high-ratings. In August, he leapt to, sparked and profited from another debate that had little to do with how the country is governed or who should lead it — one, in fact, that’s also somewhat religious.

After Texas Gov. Rick Perry expressed some skepticism over evolution, Huntsman derisively tweeted: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

And with that snide foray into the “drama and theater” of politics, he added more Twitter followers in one day than any other politician except Obama, Scientific American reported.

That’s not the only time the serious candidate descended into the snarky. During a CNN presidential debate, he made an obscure joke about musician Kurt Cobain that landed him on Anderson Cooper’s “Ridiculist,” and provoked widespread media derision for “lame jokes and petty one-liners” throughout the night, as Business Insider wrote.

Since launching his campaign, Huntsman has made civility a pillar of his campaign — in theory, at least.

“For the sake of the younger generation, it concerns me that civility, humanity and respect are sometimes lost in our interactions as Americans … We will conduct this campaign on the high road. I don’t think you can run down someone’s reputation in order to run for the office of president,” he said.

But he hasn’t always abided by his own standard. He told CNN that Perry couldn’t “expect to be taken seriously” after his comments about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He dismissed Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) by telling New York Magazine that she made “for good copy and good photography.” And Fox News host Greta Van Susteren nailed him when he appeared on her show and ripped Perry and Romney, while saying he wasn’t “interested in drama.”

Van Susteren countered: “You come across as the nice-guy candidate, but I just heard you do two jabs … it’s not quite as nice and friendly as you suggest.”

[Hat tip: Huffington Post]