Huntsman To China

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Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr.'s  nomination to be ambassador to China means... what?

The appointment is freighted with intrigue, and looks like political genius by the White House: It's like John Edwards or John Kerry joining the Bush administration in 2001. And the GOP is left with no leading moderate voice. Huntsman was talking about immigration, the environment and gay rights in ways that would have gotten him endless elite media coverage in the run-up to 2012. Some Huntsman advisers realized that GOP primary voters might be more prepared to accept his views in 2016, after a 1964-like cataclysm in 2012. But at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, it was clear he was interested in running this time.

It is a bit of a masterstroke. Huntsman was not yet in a "frontrunner" position for the 2012 nomination, but he would have certainly hastened an intra-party conflict that needs to happen in order for the GOP to recover. Now, a fairly orthodox 2012 Republican presidential primary is inevitable unless someone else drops in.  The back story to this will be fascinating...  Huntsman's political team is astonished.... as many in the White House are pleasantly surprised. 

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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