I agree with (my ex-Atlantic colleague) Andrew Sullivan: it is great to see Jon Huntsman deciding that he might as well try to sell, hard, the virtues of post-Dark Ages rationalism, rather than just standing there politely while Bachmann, Perry, and Palin (to a lesser degree Paul and Santorum) say whatever nutso thing comes into their minds. The heat in the party has all been at the extremes. Meanwhile the post-Dark Ages figures have been absent (Daniels), removed (Pawlenty), self-muzzling (Romney), or until now not really effective (Huntsman).
But Huntsman makes the comments below to Jake Tapper on ABC, for broadcast tomorrow morning. Think what it says -- about us, these times, and Huntsman's Republican party -- that the points he's making count as either crazy or "brave":
>>The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party - the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science - Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.<<
This is a win-win approach for Huntsman, in the following recondite sense. Either he wins the Republican nomination this time, which is unlikely but would be a good sign for the party and or the country. Or he doesn't, but he establishes himself for next time as the answer to the question, "Remind me, who was that guy who dared say that Darwin was right?" Then he can start showing us his glamorous family again.
Call me crazy, but I'm relieved to see someone in the party trying to pull it back from the abyss. (And, just a reminder to Team Huntsman: the next step toward rationality is having him admit, as Reagan did, that increased revenues are part of the solution to deficit problems. Rather than holding his hand up with the other extremists and saying he'd oppose a bill with any revenue increase at all.)