Timothy Egan, liberal reporter turned leftist online columnist for the Times, gave a potential kiss-of-death endorsement Thursday evening to a Republican presidential candidate - moderate former Utah governor (and Obama ambassador to China) Jon Huntsman, in "The G.O.P.'s Jon Huntsman, the Reluctant Mormon."
You see, unlike the "fact-denial chorus" who throw "red meat to the wackos" in a "sea of craziness" (now those are some seriously mixed metaphors) Huntsman is a thoughtful skeptic (i.e., he believes in manmade global warming and gay civil unions).
For the record, [former Utah Gov. Jon] Huntsman says he believes in God, is a Christian and is proud of his Mormon heritage. That should be more than enough. As a problem-solving governor, (winning a second term by a 58-point margin), and Mandarin-speaking ambassador to China, he brings a strong resume to the presidential race.
But for the increasingly intolerant minority who will decide the next Republican nominee, Huntsman is already a heretic for speaking common sense on climate change, gay civil unions and immigration. And, of course, his decision to answer a call to service by going to China for President Obama doesn't help his cause.
Beyond his religion, Huntsman has defied Republican orthodoxy in several areas, bravely striking a solo note amidst the fact-denial chorus in his party. In that world, to be thoughtful is a vice. Skepticism is a second strike.
After arguing that "in dire times, you can't fund a national government without tax increases," Egan concluded by calling Republican base "wackos."
Huntsman has yet to formally announce his candidacy, though all signs point to it. At the least, by refusing to throw red meat to the wackos, he can elevate the Republican debate. I know, I know: it would cost him the nomination.
The modern Republican Party will force any politician who shows signs of doing actual hard thinking about life and public policy to walk a plank into a sea of craziness. But he's already a renegade. Why not take the next step?