Working for a president of the opposite party may demonstrate an estimable nonpartisan spirit, but it hardly prepares you to succeed in a proudly partisan process like competing in your own party’s caucuses and primaries.

Moreover, media coverage of Huntsman’s announcement of his candidacy headlined the civility theme in large part because there was absolutely nothing else worth reporting. Aside from the sloppy stage-craft (attempting to use the Statue of Liberty as a convenient prop), his speech offered a collection of empty platitudes so mind-numbingly banal that it brought to mind H.L. Mencken’s immortal description of Warren Harding’s rhetoric: “It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it.”

Beyond these stylistic shortcomings, Huntsman offered no indication of his approach to any major issue, nor did he point to specific policy disagreements that led him to abandon and challenge his recent boss.