The centrist former diplomat is scouring the Granite State for like-minded voters, but his one-state strategy may not be enough even here.
RANDOLPH, N.H. -- Jon Huntsman likes to joke that he is acquiring a New Hampshire accent from all the time he's spent here. He is not.
The former Chinese ambassador is able to emit a mangled "Nyoo Hehmpshah," but otherwise, his ear for the New England dialect is no match for his fluid Mandarin. And yet here in New Hampshire's ski country, a ravishing landscape of rugged peaks dotted with "Brake for Moose" signs, Huntsman has managed to find a few people who speak his language.
Perhaps three dozen of them were gathered Friday evening at the well-appointed home of Karen and Woody Eitel, down a mile-long snowy track in the White Mountains hamlet of Randolph. Woody is a retired New York publishing executive, his wife a writer and photographer. Both are independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but feel let down by his leadership.
"Huntsman is the only one in the Republican Party we feel could debate Obama and have a chance to win," said Karen Eitel, a trim, blonde 68-year-old in a light-brown turtleneck, as her guests munched hors d'oeuvres in the large, open kitchen. "He is the only serious candidate in the bunch. Romney has flip-flopped so much they're going to tear him apart, and the others are too extreme."
Huntsman has periodically tried to break out of this caricature of his candidacy as the liberal Republican in the 2012 race. He has pointed to his record on health care, abortion and taxes to argue that he's actually more conservative than many of his rivals; he has tried to sound less highfalutin by saying things like "Give me a break!" and "The people are getting screwed!" while plaintively scrunching his tall, tanned forehead.
But in secular, socially liberal New Hampshire where he has planted his flag, Huntsman sometimes doesn't have to apologize.
As Hunstman took questions here, standing on a staircase with his shirtsleeves rolled up next to a roaring fire, Karen Eitel praised him for distinguishing himself on China during the GOP debates. "Everybody was thumping their war chests...you were the only one saying, 'Let's move into the 21st Century,'" she said.
"Did you notice the applause line I got on that one?" Huntsman said, forming his thumb and forefinger into a circle. "Zero."
"I know!" Karen said.
"I guess if you want to pander, you want to throw out red-meat lines, that's great," he said. "I won't do that, I'm sorry."
"That's what sold me on you!" Karen interjected.
"You sit there on the debate stage, it's sometimes a surreal moment," Huntsman reflected. "You hear, you know, the pandering on China, because it's so easy to bash."
In reality, he said, "the people, the region and indeed the world will depend increasingly on our ability to problem-solve, to trade and to engage in issues around regional security." Around the room, heads nodded thoughtfully.
For these centrist independents, Obama Republicans and disappointed Democrats, Huntsman seems like a breath of fresh air -- the sanity candidate in an insane world. And while New Hampshire isn't as conducive to retail campaigning as Iowa, where Rick Santorum's intensive personal outreach lofted him to a tie for first, Huntsman, who skipped Iowa, may be making some modest progress.
One poll released Friday showed him with 16 percent of the primary vote, good for third place behind Romney's 37 percent and Ron Paul's 19 percent, and ahead of Santorum's 14 percent. That poll, a one-day automated survey conducted by a subsidiary of Rasmussen Reports, may be an outlier. Most New Hampshire surveys show Paul with a clear shot at second place and Huntsman, Santorum and Newt Gingrich duking it out for the dubious distinction of third, each hovering around the 10 percent mark.
It's clear enough whose vote share Huntsman hopes to cut into: Romney's and Paul's. The former has the backing of moderate and electability-focused Republicans, the latter of many of the independents who can vote in the state's primary.
A super PAC backing Huntsman has aired TV ads here calling Huntsman and Romney the "two serious candidates," and branding Romney a "chameleon" who's "willing to say anything, be anything." Huntsman has also gotten into it with Paul, attacking him as a paranoid conspiracy theorist -- an attack bolstered when one of Paul's supporters posted a video, unsanctioned by the campaign, implying that Huntsman was some sort of Chinese agent and highlighting his adopted Chinese daughter.
As strategy, this all makes sense. But here's the question that's hovered over Huntsman from the start: Is he the right man at the wrong time, out of step with his party and his moment? Or is he just bad at this?
Huntsman is articulate and sincere, but he doesn't bring down the house like Herman Cain, or inspire people like Obama, or bowl people over with charisma like a Bill Clinton. His political skills are passable at best, with a less severe case of Romney's cerebral coldness and awkward people skills, as evidenced by all those terrible jokes.
Attendees at the Eitel house party were mostly mildly impressed by Huntman's talk. A few Republicans said they were still leaning toward Romney, while several Democrats said they'd vote for him if they could vote in the primary, which they cannot. The pile of Huntsman yard signs on the Eitels' stoop was left largely unmolested as guests filed out to their cars in the snow.
Huntsman continued to Bretton Woods late Friday night, where he and his wife, Mary Kaye, worked the room at the annual dinner of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce. They posed for pictures with the real-estate developers, corporate executives and doctors who filled the elegant ballroom at the hotel where the plans for the International Monetary Fund were hatched.
"How is it I know I'm going to do just fine in the New Hampshire primary?" he began, after sitting through the agenda of Chamber business and the awarding of Student of the Year and Citizen of the Year.
Positive signs, he said, included the state's preponderance of motorcycle riders: "As a 40-year motorcycle rider, I like our chances!" And guns: "With a name like Huntsman, how do you lose?"
He told the New Hampshire accent joke, adding that he'd also picked up a love for lobster rolls and "a love for the people of this state." He fretted about the state of the nation: "Without a bit of hyperbole intended, if we don't get our act together, we will see the end of the American century by 2050." He summoned his dignity to beg for votes: "Ladies and gentlemen, I would not be the crass salesman that I am unless I asked for your help."
George Kirk, a 79-year-old retired adman who won the banquet's Citizen of the Year award for his work with such civic causes as the (sadly defunct) Frostbite Follies, said Huntsman had won his vote.
"I'm a Republican. I voted for Obama," he said. "I can't vote for Mitt. I can't vote for Newt -- I just can't. Huntsman is honest, and he's worked his ass off in New Hampshire."
Huntsman, whose previous homes have included the American ambassador's residence in Beijing and the Governor's Mansion in Salt Lake City, has logged 160 events in New Hampshire. It may well be the end of the road for his hapless campaign for president. But if he gets nothing else out of his grand Granite State adventure, he can go to his grave knowing he earned the support of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year.
19 Kids and Counting built its reputation on preaching family values, but the mass-media platforms that made the family famous might also be their undoing.
On Thursday, news broke that Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the Duggar family's 19 children, had, as a teenager, allegedly molested five underage girls. Four of them, allegedly, were his sisters.
The information came to light because, in 2006—two years before 17 Kids and Counting first aired on TLC, and thus two years before the Duggars became reality-TV celebrities—the family recorded an appearance on TheOprah Winfrey Show. Before the taping, an anonymous source sent an email to Harpo warning the production company Josh’s alleged molestation. Harpo forwarded the email to authorities, triggering a police investigation (the Oprah appearance never aired). The news was reported this week by In Touch Weekly—after the magazine filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see the police report on the case—and then confirmed by the Duggars in a statement posted on Facebook.
Who is Jeb’s wife, what effect will she have on his campaign—and what effect will his campaign have on their marriage?
Now and then in an otherwise unmemorable speech, Jeb Bush will drop a mention of his wife, like a sudden pop of color. At an event in Nevada this March, one of his first speeches of this campaign season, before a crowd of what The Washington Post called “everyday Americans,” Bush opened with a husband-still-in-thrall routine. His life, he said, can be divided into two parts: “b.c. and a.c.—before Columba and after Columba,” referring to Columba Garnica de Gallo, the woman he fell madly in love with while on a high-school trip to Mexico and then married 41 years ago.
The crowd, full of seniors and some Spanish speakers, awwwed and cheered. Columba herself was not in attendance. Perhaps because he hadn’t officially declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, she felt no hurry to claim her title as candidate’s wife.
New research confirms what they say about nice guys.
Smile at the customer. Bake cookies for your colleagues. Sing your subordinates’ praises. Share credit. Listen. Empathize. Don’t drive the last dollar out of a deal. Leave the last doughnut for someone else.
Sneer at the customer. Keep your colleagues on edge. Claim credit. Speak first. Put your feet on the table. Withhold approval. Instill fear. Interrupt. Ask for more. And by all means, take that last doughnut. You deserve it.
Follow one of those paths, the success literature tells us, and you’ll go far. Follow the other, and you’ll die powerless and broke. The only question is, which is which?
Of all the issues that preoccupy the modern mind—Nature or nurture? Is there life in outer space? Why can’t America field a decent soccer team?—it’s hard to think of one that has attracted so much water-cooler philosophizing yet so little scientific inquiry. Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk?
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
In an interview, the U.S. president ties his legacy to a pact with Tehran, argues ISIS is not winning, warns Saudi Arabia not to pursue a nuclear-weapons program, and anguishes about Israel.
On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.
“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”
Advocates say that a guaranteed basic income can lead to more creative, fulfilling work. The question is how to fund it.
Scott Santens has been thinking a lot about fish lately. Specifically, he’s been reflecting on the aphorism, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life.” What Santens wants to know is this: “If you build a robot to fish, do all men starve, or do all men eat?”
Santens is 37 years old, and he’s a leader in the basic income movement—a worldwide network of thousands of advocates (26,000 on Reddit alone) who believe that governments should provide every citizen with a monthly stipend big enough to cover life’s basic necessities. The idea of a basic income has been around for decades, and it once drew support from leaders as different as Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon. But rather than waiting for governments to act, Santens has started crowdfunding his own basic income of $1,000 per month. He’s nearly halfway to his his goal.
In any case, people have probably heard the phrase in reference to something gone awry at work or in life. In either setting, when the shit does hit the fan, people will tend to look to the most competent person in the room to take over.
And too bad for that person. A new paper by a team of researchers from Duke University, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado looks at not only how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers, but how those people feel when, at crucial moments, everyone turns to them. They find that responsible employees are not terribly pleased about this dynamic either.
The former secretary of state jettisons sweeping rhetoric, and focuses on specific policies.
Hillary Clinton has been an official candidate for president for five weeks, and she still hasn’t done the thing most candidates do on day one: given a speech laying out her vision for America. Nor is she planning on doing so anytime soon. Politicoreports that Hillary’s “why I’m running for president,” speech, initially scheduled for May, has now been delayed until June, or even later.
There’s a reason for that: The speech is unlikely to be very good. Soaring rhetoric and grand themes have never been Hillary’s strengths. That’s one reason so many liberals found her so much less inspirational than Barack Obama in 2008. And it’s a problem with deep roots. In his biography, A Woman in Charge, Carl Bernstein describes Hillary, then in law school, struggling to articulate her generation’s perspective in an address to the League of Women Voters. “If she was speaking about a clearly defined subject,” Bernstein writes, “her thoughts would be well organized, finely articulated, and delivered in almost perfect outline form. But before the League audience, she again and again lapsed into sweeping abstractions.”
A scholar’s analysis of American culture presumes too much.
Last week, Gawkerinterviewed Robin DiAngelo, a professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University. She discussed aspects of her thinking on whiteness, which are set forth at length in her book, What Does it Mean to be White? I’ve ordered the book.
Meanwhile, her remarks on police brutality piqued my interest. Some of what Professor DiAngelo said is grounded in solid empirical evidence: blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately victimized by misbehaving police officers; there are neighborhoods where police help maintain racial and class boundaries. And if our culture, which she calls “the water we swim in,” contained fewer parts racism per million, I suspect that police brutality would be less common.