Hunstman to China

by Brien Jackson

The big story of today was the announcement that Utah Governor and potential Republican Presiential candidate Jon Hunstman will be our new ambassador to China. This is obviously a pretty big deal, and not the slightest bit expected. I’m hardly the first to note that it speaks very poorly of the Republican Party. Hunstman had been talked about as a potential Presidential candidate, and was apparently trying to stake out the ground as the party’s token sane person. But, apparently, he doesn’t see much of a future in that route, and that says about all that needs to be said. It’s a big coup for Obama though, if for no other reason than it neutralizes a potential non-crazy challenger early, when Obama looks unbeatable.

From a more substantive move, it strikes me as a very good move. Hunstman has diplomatic experience, having been an ambassador to Singapore and a U.S. trade representative, and he speaks Mandarin, which will be appreciated by the Chinese I’m sure. Moreover, there’s just something that strikes me as very smart about appointing someone from the opposition party to represent you in a country generally perceived as being a major rival. It can be perceived as an implicit signal that you’re willing to work with your rivals in a constructive manner.

All in all, a very brilliant move by Obama, and I see little downside to it.

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