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Posted by on Jun 26, 2011 in Media, Politics | 6 comments

Jon Who? (Guest Voice)

Jon Who?
by Michael Reagan

All of a sudden the kept media is all agog over one Jon (not John) Huntsman, recently retired from his Obama administration post as U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, provoking the president to joke that he was “sure that him having worked so well for me will be a great asset in any Republican primary.”

A former governor of Utah, Huntsman is a multimillionaire from a very wealthy family who has styled himself as a so-called “moderate,” supporting certain measures considered by conservatives as not in the least acceptable. Notably, he has supported “marriages” between homosexuals, and so-called “cap and trade” legislation designed to deal with so-called (and non-existent) global warming, but in reality shoveling taxpayer funds into the hands of liberal groups and individuals to prevent something that isn’t happening.

In announcing his candidacy with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Ambassador Huntsman attempted to associate himself with my late father, President Reagan. It was embarrassing to watch him channel-up my father’s 1981 speech and associate himself with it. As Simon or Randy on “American Idol” might say, if you’re going to sing the song of an icon you had better be as good or better that that icon. In making his announcement he was neither. Jon Huntsman was, instead, the great non-communicator.

To win the GOP nomination a candidate must be able to demonstrate how he has helped the party, has raised considerable amounts of money for it, and has helped Republican candidates win elections over the past two years. Huntsman has done none of that. As a matter of fact it has recently been revealed that his family most recently financially supported none other than Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Conservatives have long suspected that there exists a GOP establishment, once known as the “Rockefeller wing,” that manipulates the party behind the scenes, putting forth so-called “moderate” candidates for office, providing campaign financing for them and arranging media support for their candidacies.

If that is the case, Jon Huntsman is their boy.

To win elections, Republicans need a ground game, which means you must show how you have helped the party, how much money you have raised for the party and which Republicans you have helped get elected in the past two years. Huntsman’s answers are none, none and none, which means there is no one to help him get voters to the polls and that all he can hope for is the money and votes from family and the support of the liberal media.

He should never have put his hat the ring, at least this time around. Perhaps he should think about 2020.Maybe then he will be ready for prime time and learned that moderation is not the path to success in the GOP.

While no Republican who wins election as governor of Utah can accurately describe himself as a wholesale moderate, Huntsman has taken several high-profile positions out of step with his fellow Republicans. Those positions are not widely supported, and they will permit his opponents to label him as a moderate, a title that comes close to a cuss word in the minds of his fellow Republicans.

His rhetorical style doesn’t help him either He once described himself in a 2009 interview with the Deseret News as a “moderating voice” – not helpful in a party that demands strong positions on the issues. That conciliatory tone might play well in a general election but never among a GOP primary electorate which demands that their party take an aggressive stand on the issues.

The GOP establishment has a long, dreary history of advancing so-called “moderate” candidates, while denouncing those with conservative principles and views. Jon Huntsman fits their idea of what a GOP candidate must look like — a liberal in GOP clothing. In his 11th Commandment, my father declared that a Republican should never speak ill of another Republican. Having known and worked with my dad I know that he never meant that a Republican who seeks to curry favor with the media and the voters by discarding the principles and values should be beyond criticism from his fellow Republicans.

Governor Huntsman, Ronald Reagan was my father; I knew Ronald Reagan, and you are not even close to being anything like Ronald Reagan. By saying this, I know I may have violated my dad’s 11th Commandment, but I’m sure he’ll forgive me.

Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of The New Reagan Revolution (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. ©2011 Mike Reagan. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate and is licensed to run on TMV in full.

  • cjjack

    Wow, where to begin?

    First off I find it odd that a website with the word “Moderate” as part of the name would bother having a so-called “guest” voice an opinion that “moderate” is somehow a dirty word.

    Second, while I understand that “moderate” IS a dirty word for far-right Republicans like Michael Reagan, it is also true that he does not speak for the entirety of the party. This notion that Huntsman isn’t a legitimate Republican candidate because he can’t pass a far-right litmus test is exactly the sort of thing that is wrong with today’s Republican party in my (moderate) opinion.

    Furthermore, the notion that Huntsman needs to have spent the last couple years carrying water for the GOP before daring to throw his hat in the Presidential ring is absurd. The GOP doesn’t need a fundraiser-in-chief, or the winner of some ideological purity test, they need someone who can reach across the aisle and get votes from moderates, independents, and even (gasp!) Democrats.

    Which brings me to my final point. Ronald Reagan did just that. His appeal was broader than just the self-appointed party faithful, and as has been said before, he would have never passed the sort of purity test being applied to candidates like Huntsman. I can certainly understand why a son of Reagan might bristle at someone attempting to co-opt his father’s legacy, but the ghost of the Gipper has been invoked by just about everyone running for the GOP nomination for at least a decade now. What’s more, Reagan’s other son probably would disagree with just about every word of this “guest voice” that is anything but a moderate voice.

  • You haven’t read the masthead. Since this site started we HAVE run ideas and perspectives that don’t fit someone’s definition of moderate, a definition even moderates argue over. So we do run some features of the left and right because independent voters and moderates should do more than listen to the choir: it is useful to read another perspective. A view on the left or right is no more the position of TMV than is any post of myself or any other TMV coblogger or contributor. We offer up the buffet and people can try what they want and they’ll like some of it and some other things may make them sick. But we have and will keep running a variety of viewpoints. I’m also a fan of Ron Reagan’s and was on hi MSNBC show some years ago. I’d run a Guest Voice of his and whether he agreed with Micheal Reagan or not isn’t the issue. The issue is Michael Reagan’s take on this which people can discuss and think about.

  • rudi

    If Mikey hates Huntsman, JH has my vote. This is from a liberal with fond memories of Bill Milliken as a functional moderate Republican.

  • cjjack

    Oh, I read the masthead Joe, and I’m not suggesting that everyone who posts here must be a moderate – however you define such a thing.

    However, Reagan (in this column at least) seems to be attacking the very idea of moderation, at least in the context of the GOP.

    You say that independents and moderates should “do more than listen to the choir” and I agree, but Reagan is essentially saying “only listen to the choir!” Huntsman, in Mike Reagan’s opinion, isn’t part of the choir, and as such must be rejected out of hand.

    I’m not saying that’s not Mike’s argument to make, I just find it odd that he’d make it here of all places. If we’re to take him at his word, he has no use for moderates, and seems to have a bit of contempt for us, to put it mildly.

  • JSpencer

    Cj, it’s well-known (here anyway) that MR has no use for moderates. Think of him as an uber-right entertainer. 😉

  • The Kid

    Michael Reagan’s misleading and slightly hysterical piece is yet another sad example of a partisan ideologue imagining that his own clouded worldview is universally accepted. Like others on the Republican fringe, he imagines a monstrous conspiracy of centrists as the hidden hand controlling the Republican party. His accusation that Huntsman supports gay marriage is false – he supports civil unions. Additionally, has Reagan forgotten 2008? McCain, like Huntsman, was not a charismatic speaker. Even worse, McCain, had far more “heresies” to conservatism than Huntsman and often even an outright antagonism to conservatives – yet he “somehow” managed to win the nomination. Huntsman enters the race with stronger prospects than McCain.

    On a separate note, Michael Reagan is engaging in the all-too-common distortion of his own father’s legacy. Reagan was quite conservative, yet one only has to look at his vice-presidential picks (Richard Schweiker in 1976, George H. W. Bush in 1980 and 1984) to see that he, unlike his son Michael, understood that the political diversity of his party was, at the very least, not unacceptable.

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