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January 16, 2012

John Weaver, Idiot; John Huntsman, Retard

Is John Weaver to blame for Huntsman's flame-out?

That's the consensus, but of course John Huntsman bought into this strategy.

Weaver's a moron, certainly, but who is the moron, the moron or the moron who follows him?

John Huntsman actually had a good conservative record, in the main, in Utah. There's no reason he could not have been a contender.

Weaver and Huntsman apparently made a bad tactical decision: As Huntsman was already perceived as being a liberal-ish Charlie Crist figure for serving as Obama's ambassador to China, they would run on that, embrace it, rather than do what would occur to most non-morons, which would be to run as a conservative and explain away the ambassadorship in a "patriotism knows no party" pitch.

I believe that deviations like that can help a candidate in a general election, because independents like seeing someone who, like themselves, is "independent minded," which is a nice way of saying "indecisive" and "irresolute." It's not helpful in a primary, of course, but neither is a necessarily disqualifying.

It's difficult to like someone who clearly doesn't like you. While in the past several weeks conservatives, seeking some alternative to Romney, have started to at least entertain the possibility of backing Huntsman, it was all but impossible given Huntsman's frequent obnoxious signaling that he just doesn't like us.

It's not just an emotional thing, either. If a candidate specifically lays down the marker that he doesn't think much of our opinion but cares a great deal about what the editors of Vogue might think, that's a pretty strong sign that he'd govern in such a way to pander to their opinions and against ours.

Add to that my basic belief that you can't pitch too hard to one segment of the electorate. If your strength is with one segment, great, bank that, and begin attempting to attract a different segment. Don't keep singing songs to the audience who already likes you. That was a problem I had with Palin, and in Huntsman's case it was even a bigger problem, because the segment he was pitching to was smaller. And also was already largely in Romney's pocket, anyway.

Imagine if Huntsman came out with the following plan: I've probably already got a lot of liberal or moderate Republicans who would probably vote for me, because they like that I'm willing to serve as Obama's ambassador. So what I'll do is consider that constituency 90% won, and pitch myself hard as the real conservative in the race, the real conservative who's even willing to honor the often-ignored conservative rule that politics ends at the water's edge.

In politics you're not always trying to win a constituency. America's now-abandoned two-front war doctrine didn't call for us to win two wars at once; I believe it called for us to fight to win one, while holding the other (which could then be won once the other one was finished).

Sometimes you're just trying to get constituencies to accept you, even if they're not fully won over.

Any kind of breakout hit -- a car, a movie, a book, a clothing company, a computer app -- is going to have a core constituency it's pitched to, but it's going to have potential appeal to a larger audience. Whether it becomes a breakout hit is determined by whether people outside its core audience give it a chance and wind up liking it. Your first audience might be a small cohort you've designed the thing for, but if you're smart, you've built it to have a wider, more general appeal, so that it's always possible the wider customer base will start buying your product.

Huntsman didn't do that. Under Weaver's guidance he seemed to be saying: You're not even permitted to buy this product. Only the smallish cohort of socially liberal pro-life (???) Republicans who read Vogue are permitted to buy this product.

The Huntsman/Weaver strategy seemed to be to chase on segment of the primary electorate while deliberately alienating the others.

That's not politics. I don't know what that is, but it's not politics. It's just dumb. Or it's John Weaver's ego still trying to win back a bet he lost long ago.

It's Not Huntsman: Via Hot Air, a BuzzFeed article makes it pretty clear that Huntsman was betting big on an ObamaFuture.

Then the Republican Party faced a choice: Did Obama's election raise real questions about the party's future and identity, as Governor Huntsman told any reporter who would dial the 801 area code from Washington? Or was it, as figures like Haley Barbour argued, merely a moment that would pass? Then Huntsman contemplated an alternate future for Republican Party. They would be modernizers and reformers, less hostile to the role of an activist government that had been vindicated in Obama's election, and finally untethered from the fantasy of a pure Constitutionalist past worshipped by fringe figures like Rep. Ron Paul.

Its just a matter of enduring the early days of transformation its never going to be pretty and its never going to be fun to watch it play out beyond a pure entertainment level, Huntsman told us back then. We havent had a healthy, rigorous discussion about our future in many years, and meanwhile the world has changed. Unless we want to be consigned to minority-party status for a long time, we need to recognize these tectonic shifts happening under our feet.

But even having made this miscalculation, a smart man still could have recalibrated and adjusted to the new (old) reality.

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posted by Ace at 12:07 PM

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