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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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The long good-bye: More opining on Huntsman's departure ...

Above: The part of the Huntsman campaign that might win. A TV show, that is.

- Huntsman out: Candidate was right to pull the plug - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

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Jon Huntsman’s withdrawal from the race for the Republican presidential nomination doesn’t prove the maxim that nice guys finish last, but it’s close. Huntsman was the candidate with the ideas that best appealed to pragmatists, the Republican who argued most aggressively for bipartisan solutions, the adult in the room.

And he is a genuinely nice guy. He took some negative shots at his opponents in the campaign, but he generally kept his side of the conversation on a high plane.

Unfortunately, he was not able to connect with enough voters in the early primary states to attract the funding he needed to be genuinely competitive. When comedian Stephen Colbert joked this week that he drove Huntsman from the race by announcing that he, Colbert, would form an exploratory committee, there was a basis in reality. In one poll, Colbert captured 5 percent of the voters in South Carolina to Huntsman’s 4 percent. ...

... While losing is never any fun, Huntsman can take consolation that he filled a policy void with a real-world platform. Yes, it was fiscally very conservative, particularly on tax policy, but it was not just rightist ideology. Maybe that’s why he was always popular with policy wonks and newspaper editorial boards.

Unfortunately, he was not able to work the same magic with voters. Next time around, he needs to consult his daughters.

- Huntsman embraces the pretzel - Frank Bruni, The New York Times/Salt Lake Tribune

... For a while Jon Huntsman was the brother from another Republican planet, one where climate change is likely and evolution inarguable. Where it isn’t girlie Limbaugh bait to sit, as he did, for a Vogue profile illustrated with Annie Leibovitz photographs. Where you don’t have to malign the Democratic president as the devil incarnate — pitchfork, cloven hooves and all.

How alien and refreshing he was.

And how depressingly he snapped back into line Monday, exiting the presidential race by surrendering to the earth’s gravity and reverting to its familiar partisan cant. ...

- Huntsman exits the race - Ogden Standard-Examiner Editorial

Jon Huntsman ended his longshot candidacy with his reputation and dignity still intact, an accomplishment some of his GOP competitors for the 2012 presidency will not attain. ...

- Republicans lose a thoughtful candidate - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial

... Mr. Hunstman was the thinking person's conservative at a time when mindless blather prevails. ...

- Classy exit for classy guy - Boston Herald Editorial

... Huntsman, a former Utah governor and former ambassador to China, brought a kind of grace to the campaign along with the occasional words of wisdom in fluent Mandarin that will indeed be missed. His style seemed to harken back to an earlier time when politics was a more genteel sport. ...

- Huntsman saga: Another media favorite takes the fall - Ron Elving, NPR

... The woman who wrote the State's endorsing editorial said she felt as if she'd been wooed and won and abandoned by her newly betrothed. Indeed, over the course of his campaign, Huntsman left more than a few journalists feeling jilted. ...

What she really said was: "It is rather like having gone through a courtship for some period of time and finally making love with a man, for him to suddenly turn around and say, 'you know what, I think I'm gay'."

And a minority view:

- Good riddance to Jon Huntsman - John Cassidy, The New Yorker

... Rather than calling out the right (and Romney for pandering to it) he tried in vain to win over conservatives. When, predictably enough, that strategy didn’t work, he got on his moral high horse and lectured his opponents about failing the American people.

That isn’t engaging in practical politics: it is ducking the fight and stroking one’s own ego. ...

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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