Barrett: Huntsman-stein monster may turn on media flatterers

Barrett: Huntsman-stein monster may turn on media flatterers

December 4th, 2011 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

News media Democrats who have been falling all over one another trying to anoint "Republican" Jon Huntsman with hilariously undeserved credibility might want to commence kicking themselves: The former Obama administration official is considering an independent bid for the White House, which would hurt Obama far more than it would hurt the eventual GOP nominee.

Asked whether he might run as an independent, Huntsman -- beloved by Democrats but unnoticed by Republicans -- told The Boston Globe he doesn't "think so" and that he "anticipates" remaining in the GOP.

In political speak, that translates to, "Yes."

Which suggests that his gentle handlers in the media may have been too clever by half. Here they've been showering hosannas on his RINO candidacy, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that the percentage of Republican voters who back him can be stated without the use of any whole number larger than two.

The Fourth Estate evidently believed its boosterism would propel Huntsman to a discernible share of GOP support, bruising the eventual GOP nominee and helping to ensure Obama's re-election.

But it didn't happen. About 4.3 million polls have shown virtually no support for Huntsman among Republicans. So the chance of his winning the GOP nod remains stuck somewhere between the likelihood of Placido Domingo starring in the next "Harold & Kumar" flick and Nancy Pelosi declaring, "Oh wait! There is a Second Amendment!" As such, any votes he might pull as an independent next November would come mainly from independents and Democrats who gave Obama a chance, only to be left painfully disillusioned.

What the media have done is create a mild-mannered monster. They have bloated the ego of an also-sort-of-ran to the point that he's inexplicably certain he's electable. And if he has to dump the "R" beside his name in the quest to be proved catastrophically mistaken, so be it.

Now, Republicans -- at least the five or six who are aware of Huntsman's existence -- must be raising a glass of eggnog over the prospect of his abandoning his Bruce Babbitt-grade GOP campaign to run as an independent. And the media, whose flattery got him to this juncture, may soon be donning sackcloth and ashes over their miscalculation.

If he plays his cards right, Huntsman could be to Obama in 2012 what Ralph Nader was to Al Gore 12 years earlier: heartburn.

Run, Jon, run!

A footnote: Babbitt eventually recognized the glittering phoniness of the media attention he got. His original speech announcing he was dropping out of the 1988 race for the Democratic nomination included the line, "Well, the press won't have Bruce Babbitt to puff up anymore."


The Associated Press advises: "Developing nations, where overwhelmingly poor populations are vulnerable and infrastructure is fragile, are particularly hard hit [by global warming], leading to calls on industrialized nations that got a head start on pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to do, and pay, more to deal with the results."

Meanwhile, a reporter and some editors got a head start on sloppy thinking and writing.

Don't you love the notion that rich countries got that way merely by putting one over on poor countries -- that the absence of industrialization has nothing to do with the corrupt, redistributionist, anti-property-rights policies that predominate in the Third World and strangle development in its infancy?

Isn't it just a lot easier to say we got an unfair head start that entitles the "slow starters" to a bigger share of our GDP?