The Atlantic Monthly's James Fallows, who has spent a lot of time covering American politics as well as China, threw cold water over the New Year holiday weekend on the speculation that former Utah Gov. -- and current U.S. ambassador to China -- Jon Huntsman (R) might run for president in 2012.
Huntsman is part of the Obama Administration. He is right in the middle of dealings with America's most important foreign-policy partner/challenge. So in the GOP Primaries, how exactly is he going to out-anti-Obama anyone else in the field, given that he has served Obama (and, yes, the country) so loyally? The retorts from all the other Republicans are almost too easy. "If Ambassssadorrr Huntsman is so concerned about the Obama threat to America, then why,...?"
And if he got through that process, he would run against his current commander-in-chief .... how? And why? What is the issue of principle so important that it compels him to challenge Obama's continuation in office, but has not justified any disagreement while he's serving now? "Huntsman 2016" would be a very logical inference from his current position. "Huntsman 2012" would require suspension of basic laws of politics and common sense.
In a follow-up post, however, Fallows admits that there's one reason why Huntsman might want the 2012 speculation.
... there is nothing that will get the attention of the Zhongnanhai leadership like the idea that the mere ambassador they are humoring today could be back another day as a mighty American President. That vague future possibility is already built in with Huntsman, but this story, which Chinese officials won't be sure they can dismiss, should concentrate their minds.