Huntsman 2009: I think maybe the stimulus should have been bigger

posted at 4:19 pm on February 1, 2011 by Allahpundit

Dude, I think this is the guy.

On Obama’s $787 billion stimulus: It’s easy to criticize the bill and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to take the money. It’s pretty simple.

I guess in hindsight we can all say that there were some fundamental flaws with it. It probably wasn’t large enough and, number two, there probably wasn’t enough stimulus effect. For example, a payroll tax exemption or maybe even a cut in the corporate tax…for small and medium-sized businesses for three years, for example.

We will take the money … The size of about a trillion dollars was floated by Mark Zandi, who’s a very respected economist. I tend to believe what he is saying about the size of the package, which didn’t necessarily hit the mark in terms of size.

You can imagine how he’ll spin this in the debates — “since when are Republicans against tax cuts?” — but clearly he wasn’t thinking of a tax-cuts-only package at the time. Which prompts the question: Between his stimulus stance, his work with Obama, and his support for civil unions, why does Huntsman persist in believing the base will line up behind him if he wins the nomination?

The answer: Cycles, my friends. Cycles.

Like any astute GOP candidate, Huntsman happily paid lip service to the Tea Party, calling it a “classical case of a spontaneous uprising of people who are fed up.” But one telling moment made its way through the haze of rhetoric. Attempting to draw a more candid answer from him, I challenged his assertion that populist movements like the Tea Party are “healthy” for democracy: “But don’t you run the risk of a given party not being able to nominate candidates who are willing to work with the other…”

Huntsman raised his right index finger before I could finish the question and interjected: “But that’s temporary.”

It was the only time in our interview that he interrupted me, and it was clear that he had given the subject a great deal of thought. “Our politics in America go in cycles,” he explained. “And the cycles have to complete one iteration before they give rise to an alternative. And what we’re experiencing today will give rise to an alternative. And the alternative will likely be a response to people who are perceived to have gone too far.”

Yeah, American politics goes through cycles, but there’s no obvious reason why this cycle will have run its course by 2012. Tea partiers are already motivated and organized to tackle Senate incumbents like Lugar and Snowe, and my perception of grassroots conservatives generally is that they’re still aggrieved at having nominated an allegedly “electable” moderate last time who proved not to be so electable after all. (Yet another burden for Huntsman: John Weaver and Fred Davis, both McCain veterans, are part of his own 2012 team.) Fears of the base staying home or voting third-party are almost always overblown, especially when the incumbent is as widely loathed as The One is by righties, but I think that’s a legit risk if Huntsman ends up as the nominee. There’ll be some critical mass of tea partiers and/or “true conservatives” who are tired of supporting RINOs in the general election; if they can convince themselves that the GOP nominee, a la McCain, is too “centrist” to beat Obama (especially one whose Mormonism may be an issue in the south), that may be all they need to bolt. After all we’ve seen over the past two years, is 2012 really the election in which the base lines up behind a “No Labels” candidate?

According to one Republican strategist, one of Huntsman’s virtues is that he’s “more authentic than Romney.” Which, as a Twitter pal of mine noted, is like saying that he’s taller than Robert Reich. Exit question: Why is the White House “furious” at the thought of Huntsman running? Don’t they want the primaries jampacked with centrists to split the vote among moderate Republicans so that a Palinesque conservative can squeak through? Or … do they seriously believe Huntsman can win?


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The base will line up alright AP, but which base we can’t be sure. It won’t be this conservative. I’ve already vowed to stay home if we get one more leftist clone with occassional conservative slips.

C.S.Lewis spoke of Satan using one pint of poison(lies) in a clear lake(truth) to do in the good guys. I find that to be the very definition of a RINO.

A water canteen in the desert with just one or two little holes in the bottom is no longer a water canteen -neither are RINOs of any ilk with conservative sounding denials of what they really are. Take Mitt with you.

Don L on February 1, 2011 at 6:18 PM

“…or we get a Not-Palin, who loses because true cons and Palinistas have a temper tantrum and stay home, ensuring 4 more years of the The One.
Vyce on February 1, 2011 at 5:29 PM”

You mean like in ’08 whenthe Romney wing of the Republican Party staying home or even voted FOR OBAMA because that stoooopid Chillbilly Palin was on the ticket?

portlandon on February 1, 2011 at 6:22 PM

I held my nose and voted for McRINO because I feared The One’s election. No more. No thanks.
I fear sticking another RINO in as Prez will set back the Conservative cause forever.
I’ll vote for a deadlocked Washington through Senate and House and skip voting for another RINO for Prez. Thanks but no thanks.

chickasaw42 on February 1, 2011 at 6:35 PM

So are you submitting that moderate republicans and GOP Beltway elite types will be rushing to their polling places to cast ballots for Palin if the shoe is on the other foot?
Kataklysmic on February 1, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Actually, yes, I am more optimistic of “RINO elites” voting for Palin, if she is the nominee, then the other way around.

I’m one of the frequent Palin critics on this site/blog, but I have gone on record – numerous times – as stating that I will vote for Palin if she’s the nominee. Even though I think her nomination is as good as conceeding defeat in 2012.

Part of the reason for this schism is because both sides of the conservative caucus do not fundamentally understand one another. Here’s how I think the true con types are misunderstanding us (supposed RINO candyass) moderates: you seem to believe that we’re all David Frum types, who just love Obama and voted for him in 2008 and are just looking for any excuse (i.e. a Palin candidacy) to use as pretext to vote for him again. Not even remotely true. I’m fairly confident that the vast majority of us “Beltway” types will converge behind Palin if she wins the nominee, even if we do so grudgingly. I’m not so convinced it will work the other way around.

WHAT???? I thought there were so few of those Palinista nuts that you wise enlightened “moderates” could cruise to victory simply by winning that massive independent-moderate vote.
ddrintn on February 1, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I’ve never made that assertion. I have pointed out that you NEED a majority of indies if you want to win the election, which is accurate and has remained true for the last several election cycles.

Vyce on February 1, 2011 at 6:37 PM

“…or we get a Not-Palin, who loses because true cons and Palinistas have a temper tantrum and stay home, ensuring 4 more years of the The One.
Vyce on February 1, 2011 at 5:29 PM”

You mean like in ’08 when the Romney wing of the Republican Party staying home or even voted FOR OBAMA because that stoooopid Chillbilly Palin was on the ticket?

portlandon on February 1, 2011 at 6:22 PM

Colon Powell is a fine example of what you speak.

Geochelone on February 1, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Vyce: The problem with your doubt regarding conservatives is that the ‘base’ has a far better track record of voting for people they don’t necessarily agree with (i.e., moderates) than moderates have for voting for someone they think is ‘too conservative’.

Simply consider the angles. If we have a socialist (e.g., Obama) running, we can choose to run either a moderate or a conservative. If we choose the moderate, the ‘base’ may stay home, but they certainly won’t vote for the socialist. I mean, really, if they won’t vote for a moderate, they shouldn’t vote for anyone ‘left’ of that moderate.

On the other hand, if a true conservative is nominated, the moderates have two options, not one. They can either stay home, or if they can be fooled into believing that the other candidate is closer to their beliefs than the conservative, they may actually vote for the other candidate.

Therefore, the moderates are more volatile in their potential behavior than the base when it comes to electoral politics. This reminds me of the attitude between Germany and Austria in Bismarckian and post-Bismarckian Europe. You cannot allow the volatile elements of a coalition to guide that coalition, or the situation deteriorates.

Scott H on February 1, 2011 at 7:37 PM

I’ve never made that assertion. I have pointed out that you NEED a majority of indies if you want to win the election, which is accurate and has remained true for the last several election cycles.

Vyce on February 1, 2011 at 6:37 PM

So the plan is to tell conservatives once again to kiss the old rump roast while you go about nominating another squish which the conservatives will of COURSE be expected to endorse whole-heartedly and for whom they will of COURSE show up in droves to vote. Right. That’s always worked like a charm.

ddrintn on February 1, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Don’t they want the primaries jampacked with centrists to split the vote among moderate Republicans so that a Palinesque conservative can squeak through? Or … do they seriously believe Huntsman can win?

They don’t want huntsman to split the moderate vote and face Palin in the general. Simple.

promachus on February 1, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Fixed his comment!

“…in hindsight we can all say that there were some fundamental flaws with it. It probably wasn’t large enough and [I am a] number two…”

Kevin M on February 1, 2011 at 8:31 PM

Vyce: The problem with your doubt regarding conservatives is that the ‘base’ has a far better track record of voting for people they don’t necessarily agree with (i.e., moderates) than moderates have for voting for someone they think is ‘too conservative’.
Scott H on February 1, 2011 at 7:37 PM

The problem this time around, however, is that those candidates which the base are deeming as appropriately – or, perhaps, “authentically” conservative – are almost entirely unpalatable to INDEPENDENTS, even if you resolve the question of whether moderates would vote for them. Palin has deep and rather severe problems with indies (something Palinistas deny feverishly), DeMint benefits from being still relatively unknown to the overall majority of voters (do you honestly think, given some of the positions he’s taken on social issues, that he could come even remotely close to getting a majority of the indie vote?), Barbour is likely finished before he starts given his background and the racial stuff, and Herman Cain…..hardly enough *conservatives* even know who the f*** he is.

So how does this tie in with the overall argument: it would be fine to nominate someone whom the base loves this time around, but so far, the only choices acceptable to the base are all people who, in the end, won’t come close to nabbing enough of the vote from everyone else (again, even assuming that the moderates – separate from the indies – almost fully unite behind the nominee) to beat Obama.

Vyce on February 1, 2011 at 9:08 PM

The problem this time around, however, is that those candidates which the base are deeming as appropriately – or, perhaps, “authentically” conservative – are almost entirely unpalatable to INDEPENDENTS…

Vyce on February 1, 2011 at 9:08 PM

The same damn thing is going to be said about ANY conservative candidate that fires the enthusiasm of the base. It was said about Reagan as well, by the Vyces circa 1980.

ddrintn on February 1, 2011 at 9:35 PM

^ So why did a far-left goofball like Obama appeal to so many INDEPENDENTS, when the GOP ran a middle-of-the-roader who trailed the far-left goofball pretty much until he named a conservative as his running mate? Could it be that a lot of those independents are the bandwagon riders who flip a coin once they get into the voting booth? “Duhhhhh…I haven’t made up my mind yet…” Or maybe they’re attention whores waiting for dummies in the GOP to tailor yet another candidate to their tastes so they can vote for Obama again?

ddrintn on February 1, 2011 at 9:40 PM

The problem this time around, however, is that those candidates which the base are deeming as appropriately – or, perhaps, “authentically” conservative – are almost entirely unpalatable to INDEPENDENTS, even if you resolve the question of whether moderates would vote for them. Palin has deep and rather severe problems with indies (something Palinistas deny feverishly), DeMint benefits from being still relatively unknown to the overall majority of voters (do you honestly think, given some of the positions he’s taken on social issues, that he could come even remotely close to getting a majority of the indie vote?), Barbour is likely finished before he starts given his background and the racial stuff, and Herman Cain…..hardly enough *conservatives* even know who the f*** he is.

So how does this tie in with the overall argument: it would be fine to nominate someone whom the base loves this time around, but so far, the only choices acceptable to the base are all people who, in the end, won’t come close to nabbing enough of the vote from everyone else (again, even assuming that the moderates – separate from the indies – almost fully unite behind the nominee) to beat Obama.

Vyce on February 1, 2011 at 9:08 PM

I don’t think being unknown two years before an election is a deal killer at all… I had no idea who Bill Clinton was before he ran for president… And I bet many folks were not that aware of Obama before the media’s massive love affair with him after he decided to run. I see no reason to include Cain in that paragraph/list simply because he has yet to be introduced to the American people. He is a very smart, capable and likable man. I don’t think he would turn independents off, and as a solid conservative, he will have vast appeal to the base as they get to know him.

squeek71 on February 1, 2011 at 10:20 PM

I don’t think he could win his own state with statements like that.

flataffect on February 2, 2011 at 2:08 AM

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