Don’t Let him Read any Jefferson Biographies

Erick Erickson questions Jon Huntsman's loyalty to America.

Erick Erickson of Red State is not too keen on Ambassador Jon Huntsman:  Why I Will Not Support Jon Huntsman. Ever.

The reason I will never, ever support Jon Huntman is simple: While serving as the United States Ambassador to China, our greatest strategic adversary, Jon Huntsman began plotting to run against the President of the United States. This calls into question his loyalty not just to the President of the United States, but also his loyalty to his country over his own naked ambition.

First, I am not sure that this is a big deal.  Had Huntsman plotted a coup, I will be all up with the hate.  However, I am not sure that we should expect members of a given administration to forgo any electoral ambitions because they serve a particular president.

Second, if I recall correctly, it was known at the time that Obama appointed Huntsman that Huntsman might have presidential ambitions.

Third, I couldn’t help but think of Thomas Jefferson in this context, given that he secretly funded anti-Washington writings when he was in Washington’s cabinet and did the same against John Adams when he was Adams’ vice president (not to mention the whole running against Adams in 1800).  Yes, different times and different electoral rules (i.e., the 2nd place finished in the electoral college became VP), but still.

Of course, ultimately, I can’t see that Erickson is going to have to test his convictions, given that Huntsman is unlikely to become a major contender, let alone the nominee.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Political Theory, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CB says:

    but what about the conflict of interest? i understand that its all part of the game, but can this sort of operating really be good from a practical governance point of view?

    i suppose that the generally positive opinion of huntsman’s tenure and the lack of any obvious tension with the obama administration would imply that no, this isnt a huge problem, but it still strikes me as unseemly, and something that could spark a minor rowe given the wrong combination of actors in the future.

  2. James Joyner says:

    The Jefferson analogy occurred to me as well. Not to mention George McClellan, who ran against Abe Lincoln. For that matter, Dwight Eisenhower went right from being Supreme Allied Commander under Harry Truman, a Democrat, to running for the Republican nomination. Traitors, all!

    More amusingly, Erick is willing to forgive Huntsman’s treachery against Obama if he’s the Republican nominee. How does that work, exactly?

  3. Kylopod says:

    Ike was serving as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, a position to which President Truman had appointed him, when he entered the presidential race against his boss (who would later drop out).

    If Huntsman somehow gets the nomination, I’m sure Erickson will still be eager to cast a vote to unseat Obama. That said, it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see this theory put to the test, so Erickson’s rage, if anything else, is safe.

  4. @James: Indeed. It is an odd stance, to be sure.

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    More amusingly, Erick is willing to forgive Huntsman’s treachery against Obama if he’s the Republican nominee. How does that work, exactly?

    Because for Erick, son of Erick, principles are a matter of convenience.

  6. legion says:

    What Ben said. The fact that a) there is _nobody_ the GOP could put up as a contender Erickson wouldn’t support and b) there is nobody the Dems could put up (even assuming got primaried) that he _would_ support just shows that this is another exercise in intellectually dishonest wanking courtesy of RS.

  7. ratufa says:

    For whatever reason, Erickson doesn’t want Huntsman to be the Republican nominee.

    So, he’s playing the loyalty to the United States card when attacking Huntsman, while re-affirming his own Party loyalty.

    Historical analysis, issues of consistency , etc, are all pretty much besides the point.

  8. mantis says:

    So, he’s playing the loyalty to the United States card when attacking Huntsman, while re-affirming his own Party loyalty.

    Exactly right. I expect more “non-partisan” objections to other candidates Erickson does not want to see as the nominee, but will vote for in the general, in the coming weeks. He will probably even refrain from calling any of them goat f*cking child molesters.

  9. legion says:

    Don’t hold your breath. There’s no Dem primary to expend his eloquence on this cycle…

  10. Franklin says:

    To back up James’ point, look at the first words quoted above: The reason I will never, ever support …

  11. hey norm says:

    erickson is the hackiest of the extremeist hacks on the so-called right.
    this is of a kind with the charge against sestak. if you follow the train of thought to it’s logical conclusion no one is ever able to aspire to a better job because it’s a conflict of interest, or disloyal, or some other trumped up complaint. i guess since the long form birth certificate was released these bone-heads need to make up new things to complain about.

  12. Wiley Stoner says:

    Echo chamber????

  13. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Maybe I’m out of the loop but I honestly don’t know who Erick Ericksen is.

    That said, the notion of not supporting candidate A solely because said candidate is running against the guy who nominated him to an ambassadorship is mind-numbingly preposterous. Reading between the lines this has to be either projection or some form of transference on the part of this Ericksen character. Or perhaps he’s literally an idiot.

  14. TG Chicago says:

    To underscore Joyner’s point, it’s highly amusing that one can read a post entitled:

    Why I Will Not Support Jon Huntsman. Ever.

    And the first two sentences of the post are: “Ambassador Jon Huntsman is gearing up now to run for President of the United States. If he is the Republican nominee, I will vote for him.”

  15. PD Shaw says:

    Unfortunately, it resounds with a Jacksonian line of attack on John Quincy Adams, that he had dual loyalties as ambassador to another country and as ambitious American politician. It’s rather unfortunate because it places higher disabilities on people with foreign policy backgrounds running for office.

  16. LaurenceB says:

    By a weird coincidence, just yesterday I was thinking to myself that Huntsman seems remarkably sane for a Republican candidate. In fact, if he were nominated (which won’t happen), I would even consider voting for him. And I canvassed for Obama in 2008.

  17. Neil Hudelson says:

    Maybe I’m out of the loop but I honestly don’t know who Erick Ericksen is.

    Then your life is truly blessed.

  18. G.A.Phillips says:

    Echo chamber????

    lol,Braying chamber…