Huntsman's problem: He misunderstood his own party

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.

“It’s just a matter of enduring the early days of transformation – it’s never going to be pretty and it’s never going to be fun to watch it play out beyond a pure entertainment level,” Huntsman told us back then. “We haven’t 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.”

There was, though, another argument: Republicans should hold firm, and wait for the Obama delusion to subside.