Last week, AP reluctantly related the story of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s internal campaign drama, asking the apt question, “How ‘big’ can a story be if the subject is polling an asterisk?” It’s a fair question, and I ask myself that every time I write about a far-back-in-the-pack Republican presidential candidate. But, as I’ve always maintained, part of what makes this GOP primary so enjoyable (and, hopefully, so effective at prepping the electorate for the general) is that the candidates, who array themselves at different points along the conservative spectrum, are all nevertheless pretty positive spokespeople for the need for an alternative to President Barack Obama. That is, at any given time in this primary season, at least nine prominent politicians are making an especially concentrated effort to make the case against Obama — and that doesn’t even count Rick Perry and Sarah Palin.
This weekend, Huntsman made that case at a keyboard. In South Carolina, at a townhall hosted by Tea Party freshman Rep. Tim Scott, Huntsman’s skill at a piano formed the foundation for a jam session to the tune of “Hit the Road, Jack.” The message was explicitly aimed at President Obama. It’s obvious from the video just how much fun Rep. Tim Scott and former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster are having, as they shout the song (off-key at that!). And at about two minutes or so, Huntsman really starts to ripple across the keys. If they didn’t seem to be so sincerely enjoying themselves, I’d succumb to the cynical view that it was staged solely to score media points — but, even if it was, I like it!
Maybe I just love this story because I play piano myself, but I think part of its appeal is also that, as much as it strikes me negatively to see Obama and his cronies dance while the economy wobbles, I still like to glimpse appropriate pauses in politicians’ workaday lives. It’s a pleasure to watch folks who live in suits and speak in talking points let loose somewhat and give us a window into their humanity. Of course, it’s even better when the fun is coupled with a message with which I could not agree more: Hit the road, Barack. And don’t you come back no more.
Update: This post originally mistakenly referred to Henry McMaster as the present South Carolina Attorney General, when, in fact, he is the former Attorney General of the state. The post has been corrected above.