There is something wrong with calling Jon Huntsman a 'moderate', as if he is just, as Paul Gottfried wrote recently, a "low-octane Democrat". This has been bothering me for several days now.
For example, it seems to me that the Washington Establishment (in both parties) is at the center of the political spectrum, and therefore appropriately called 'centrist' or 'moderate'. These are the career politicians who, year in and year out, take the PAC and lobbyist money and vote for the kinds of economic and foreign policy measures that have gotten us in the mess that we are in here in 2011. These are the politicians that I'm beginning to hate for what they have done to this country.
Now, despite the crazy labeling of Barack Obama by Republicans and Fox News and others as a 'socialist' or worse, he is of course nothing of the kind. Barack Obama is as centrist and moderate a politician as you can possibly find in Washington. He supported the bipartisan bailout of Wall Street bankers, and has basically refused to reform our corrupt financial system (appearances to the contrary notwithstanding). More recently, he has gone along (at the least) with NATO in the bombing of Libya, and both of these things are very typical of the centrist/moderate Establishment.
And again, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, there is a Republican establishment that is as every bit as guilty of dragging our country into the mess that it's in as those allegedly freespending Democrats. Take the Bush administration, for example. They took us into the Iraq War, as illegal and unnecessary a war as you will ever find. They gave enormous tax cuts to the wealthy, dramatically raising the national deficit in the process. And they completely failed in their responsibility to safeguard our financial system, allowing a housing and debt bubble to expand then collapse, creating economic havoc in the process.
So, in the current field of Presidential candidates in both parties, it seems to me that you have Establishment candidates and those that are not (at least as much). I'm against the former and for the latter. Here is what I want as President: I want someone whom Wall Street and the Pentagon will be afraid of.
Since Barack Obama is the Democratic and, as I said, clearly Establishment, we can only really look at the Republicans. The first obvious Establishment Republican is Mitt Romney. I doubt anyone will disagree with that. If you want to elect a candidate who will in all likelihood continue the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama policies, elect Mitt! Wall Street, Business Roundtable, and the Military-Industrial Complex will love him, I feel sure. Ditto Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. And Tim Pawlenty sure seems proto-Establishment, unless he can prove to me otherwise.
Now who is anti-Establishment? Of the Republicans running, Ron Paul certainly constitutes that kind of a threat, which is why I would actually vote for him for President, if I could. The problem is that he is unlikely to get that far. As for Sarah Palin, I really don't have the foggiest idea what Sarah Palin believes, and frankly, I DON'T WANT TO FIND OUT, because, first and foremost, she seems to me to be a complete and utter narcissist. Michele Bachmann could possibly be an anti-Establishment candidate, though something about her bothers me (perhaps it's her strange political fundamentalism and lack of subtlety.)
The one Republican candidate running who I think is both anti-Establishment and electable is Jon Huntsman. The 'electable' part I've talked about in previous posts, so let's focus in on the anti-Establishment part.
Why do I think he's anti-Establishment? First of all, he comes from Utah, for god's sake! You simply can't come from Utah, including its Mormon Church, and see things the same way that Washington does! Salt Lake City could be the other side of the moon, for all the Washington insiders know. And when they look at someone from that god-forsaken place (in their opinion), they must think they're looking at an alien being. I mean, at least Mitt Romney is a Mormon from Massachusetts, where he's had time to have that Mormon culture bled out of him by the secular puritanism that is Massachusetts liberalism.
Second, Huntsman didn't just grow up in Utah. He's actually run a business there and been governor there. (I know, he's served several years in the two Bush administrations in minor administrative commerce/trade positions, as well as Ambassador to both Singapore and China.) So he's been immersed in the unique and uniquely conservative culture of Utah, and more importantly, Utah is an integral part of his heart and soul.
Third, Jon Huntsman has lived in Asia, most recently two years in China, and speaks Chinese fluently. And frankly, the only thing more strange to Washington than Utah might be China (as Henry Kissinger made very clear the other night on the Charlie Rose show talking about his new book On China).
Fourth, Jon Huntsman has so much money (which he didn't make on Wall Street like Mitt did) that he doesn't give a damn what the Wall Street and Hedge Fund tycoons think of him. He doesn't need and probably doesn't want their money, thank God. So, guess what, THEY CAN'T BUY HIM OFF, which is probably really bothering them right about now (or will be shortly).
Fifth, Jon Huntsman leans toward libertarianism, in my opinion. (Not liberalism, libertarianism.) You can see this in his sense of fiscal responsibility, his respect for real business (not the parasitism of Wall Street), and his true respect for the right of individuals to make real choices about their life (he dropped out of high school to play in a band and earned his diploma through the GED). You can also see it in his leaning toward anti-interventionism abroad, which he has demonstrated with his recent criticism of Obama's Libyan policy.
I could on for a while, but let me end here. I could be wrong about this, and it could end up (like it so often does) that Huntsman would be co-opted by the Washington Establishment. And I will say this: if 'moderate' means that Huntsman is 'electable', because he has qualities that appeal to folks, then, okay, he's moderate. BUT only in that sense of the word.