Huntsman to State?
Hold on a minute. Utah voters who are reeling from Mitt Romney's failed quest for the presidency may yet see a Mormon Republican with close ties to the Beehive State land a high-profile job in the nation's capital, though Foggy Bottom is a mile and a half and a world away from the White House.
Since President Barack Obama's re-election on Tuesday, attention has turned to who will be going and who will be staying as the president considers the makeup of the Cabinet he is assembling for his second term. Some departures have already been announced.
Remember, speculating about just who will fill the chairs around the oval table in the Cabinet Room of the White House is a quadrennial parlor game in Washington. The leading topic at present is who will occupy the chair just to the right of the president when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton departs early next year.
The former first lady plans to take a rest and write. Talk of a run for the White House in 2016 will no doubt continue unabated unless or until she states flatly that she is out of the presidential picture.
It is rarely our practice to comment on political speculation. But on Thursday, the Associated Press, citing unnamed officials, added former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to the short list of possible Clinton successors. We take notice only because we believe that Huntsman would be an excellent choice should the president decide to bring him aboard.
Huntsman, who speaks fluent Mandarin, has ably served as this country's chief envoy to Singapore and China. With new Chinese leadership, Obama would profit enormously from Huntsman's experience with our chief trading partner. Others said to be on the president's short list are Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice; and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
Huntsman is a known quantity in the White House, having served as Obama's ambassador to China in 2009 and 2010. Huntsman abruptly left the ambassadorship after 18 months in order to pursue the GOP nomination, pitting him against Romney, a fellow Mormon with strong ties to Utah. Huntsman's candidacy gained little traction, primarily because his moderate message played poorly with the party's tea party base.
We say again, speculation is cheap fodder for editorial comment. But if, in this case, speculation matches reality, we would urge the president, in a well-timed act of bipartisanship, to bring Huntsman back to perform in a job for which he has proven eminently qualified.