If Jon Huntsman's moment in the Republican primary limelight arrives, he will have 46 words and a media-trained woman accusing the nominal frontrunner of groping her to thank. Those 46 words were typed by RedState's Erick Erickson, who, in a 1,665-word prediction that if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee in 2012, he will bring about the death of conservatism, gave 2.7 percent of his missive to saying something nice (or semi-nice) about Jon Huntsman. The woman was, of course, Sharon Bialek, who accused Herman Cain of making creepy advances on her. And so, on the news cycle clock, it's time for an official "second look" at Jon Huntsman. Erickson wrote just one blog post, you might say. But there's no one left. Just about every other Republican candidate has had his or her chance to be the anti-Romney and then blown the opportunity. Now the candidate whose niche thus far has been "genial dad trying to be cool on Twitter" gets to have his moment, even if we have to use the faintest scraps of evidence to prove it.
Business Insider's Zeke Miller and Michael Brendan Dougherty say Erickson "is a great proxy for the thinking of conservative activists" in pointing to his 46 not-mean words. (For the record, those words are: "Huntsman comes up with the best economic plan of all the candidates ... I’m starting to think I need to walk it back on my rejection of Jon Huntsman. Because I’m starting to think even he would be more faithful in his conservative convictions than Mitt Romney.") Erickson's post is important to the race, Politico's Tim Mak writes, because Erickson is "influential," his site, "one of the conservative blogosphere's most widely read blogs." Mediaite's Tommy Christopher goes even further in explaining this one blog post's significance because Erickson has the power to "tell conservatives what they need to hear without fear of being branded a RINO." Christopher calls Erickson's slightly-pro-Huntsman comments "a backhanded pseudo-endorsement."
Can we parse that further? Maybe it's a pseudo-backhanded endorsement? So far, not many conservatives seem to be picking up on the new Huntsmania. There's Will Cain at Glenn Beck's site The Blaze, favorably comparing Huntsman to conservative icon Barry Goldwater on substance, if not on style. And Erickson's first post got so much attention he was moved to update it with a clarification that he was not endorsing Huntsman, then follow up with a post about how Huntsman is only kind of all right:
I still find it shocking that the guy running as the liberal in the race, or at least the media accepted moderate, came up with the boldest, most conservative economic plan … To even get me to half-way take him seriously though, I think he’d have to get rid of Jon Weaver and show conservatives he actually is a conservative. Thus far, from his jokes at debates to his tweets, he’s come across as condescending. But he does like Nirvana. That’s something.
The Spectator's Alex Massie predicts a Huntsman boomlet bloggers looking for "something vaguely fresh to say" will turn their focus to Huntsman, who "is no more going to be the Republican nominee than Donald Trump or Herman Cain and there's not much, at this stage, he can do to change that." Why the skepticism? Well, there are headlines like this, from the Houston Chronicle: "How bad are things for Rick Perry in Iowa? He’s only ahead of Jon Huntsman, who’s not competing there." There's the fact that Huntsman hasn't cracked 3 percent in national polls in a long time. He's in fourth place in New Hampshire, the state where he's spending most of his time. There's the fact that this headline, "Despite Hit, Huntsman Far Below Intrinsic Value" is not about Huntsman the candidate, but Huntsman the corporation, the company that made the Republican's dad a billionaire. If only voters could be convinced to see the candidate the same way Seeking Alpha sees the corporation:
Despite a weak environment, Huntsman is improving its global position optimally by operational restructuring in capacity and balance sheet changes. Although the short-term could very well be volatile, high-risk adjusted returns remain lucrative in the long-term given management's actions.