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.
A new book by the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne tackles arguments that the two institutions are compatible.
In May 1988, a 13-year-old girl named Ashley King was admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital by court order. She had a tumor on her leg—an osteogenic sarcoma—that, writes Jerry Coyne in his book Faith Versus Fact, was “larger than a basketball,” and was causing her leg to decay while her body started to shut down. Ashley’s Christian Scientist parents, however, refused to allow doctors permission to amputate, and instead moved their daughter to a Christian Science sanatorium, where, in accordance with the tenets of their faith, “there was no medical care, not even pain medication.” Ashley’s mother and father arranged a collective pray-in to help her recover—to no avail. Three weeks later, she died.
Defining common cultural literacy for an increasingly diverse nation.
Is the culture war over?
That seems an absurd question. This is an age when Confederate monuments still stand; when white-privilege denialism is surging on social media; when legislators and educators in Arizona and Texas propose banning ethnic studies in public schools and assign textbooks euphemizing the slave trade; when fear of Hispanic and Asian immigrants remains strong enough to prevent immigration reform in Congress; when the simple assertion that #BlackLivesMatter cannot be accepted by all but is instead contested petulantly by many non-blacks as divisive, even discriminatory.
And that’s looking only at race. Add gender, guns, gays, and God to the mix and the culture war seems to be raging along quite nicely.
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 1992, the neuroscientist Richard Davidson got a challenge from the Dalai Lama. By that point, he’d spent his career asking why people respond to, in his words, “life’s slings and arrows” in different ways. Why are some people more resilient than others in the face of tragedy? And is resilience something you can gain through practice?
The Dalai Lama had a different question for Davidson when he visited the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader at his residence in Dharamsala, India. “He said: ‘You’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study depression, and anxiety, and fear. Why can’t you use those same tools to study kindness and compassion?’ … I did not have a very good answer. I said it was hard.”
25 years ago, Roseanne Barr sparked national fury when she delivered an off-key rendition in San Diego. But the reasons behind outrage and praise for various interpretations have as much to do with politics as musical talent.
On July 25, 1990, the comedian Roseanne Barr stood in San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium before a baseball game, grabbed a microphone behind home plate, and, with her shirttails hanging out and sleeves rolled up, barked out what many consider to be the most unpatriotic performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in history. In a screech not unlike a fork being scratched across slate, Barr garbled her way through the lyrics, missed notes intentionally, and capped off the whole affair by grabbing her crotch and spitting on the ground. In her defense, those final gestures were meant as a parody of ballplayers’ behavior, but many of the 27,285 paying fans didn’t see it that way. What they saw was utter disrespect for the national anthem, and thus, the country. She had exercised her freedom of speech, so they exercised their right to boo her off the field.
People labeled “smart” at a young age don’t deal well with being wrong. Life grows stagnant.
At whatever agesmart people develop the idea that they are smart, they also tend to develop vulnerability around relinquishing that label. So the difference between telling a kid “You did a great job” and “You are smart” isn’t subtle. That is, at least, according to one growing movement in education and parenting that advocates for retirement of “the S word.”
The idea is that when we praise kids for being smart, those kids think: Oh good, I'm smart. And then later, when those kids mess up, which they will, they think: Oh no, I'm not smart after all. People will think I’m not smart after all. And that’s the worst. That’s a risk to avoid, they learn.“Smart” kids stand to become especially averse to making mistakes, which are critical to learning and succeeding.
Former Senator Jim Webb is the fifth Democrat to enter the race—and by far the most conservative one.
In a different era’s Democratic Party, Jim Webb might be a serious contender for the presidential nomination. He’s a war hero and former Navy secretary, but he has been an outspoken opponent of recent military interventions. He’s a former senator from Virginia, a purple state. He has a strong populist streak, could appeal to working-class white voters, and might even have crossover appeal from his days as a member of the Reagan administration.
In today’s leftward drifting Democratic Party, however, it’s hard to see Webb—who declared his candidacy Thursday—getting very far. As surprising as Bernie Sanders’s rise in the polls has been, he looks more like the Democratic base than Webb does. The Virginian is progressive on a few major issues, including the military and campaign spending, but he’s far to the center or even right on others: He's against affirmative action, supports gun rights, and is a defender of coal. During the George W. Bush administration, Democrats loved to have him as a foil to the White House. It’s hard to imagine the national electorate will cotton to him in the same way. Webb’s statement essentially saying he had no problem with the Confederate battle flag flying in places like the grounds of the South Carolina capitol may have been the final straw. (At 69, he’s also older than Hillary Clinton, whose age has been a topic of debate, though still younger than Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden.)
For centuries, experts have predicted that machines would make workers obsolete. That moment may finally be arriving. Could that be a good thing?
1. Youngstown, U.S.A.
The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one its residents can cite with precision: September 19, 1977.
For much of the 20th century, Youngstown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a median income and a homeownership rate that were among the nation’s highest. But as manufacturing shifted abroad after World War II, Youngstown steel suffered, and on that gray September afternoon in 1977, Youngstown Sheet and Tube announced the shuttering of its Campbell Works mill. Within five years, the city lost 50,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in manufacturing wages. The effect was so severe that a term was coined to describe the fallout: regional depression.
On Sunday, citizens will vote on how to move forward in the country's financial crisis.
On Sunday, the people of Greece will help decide the financial future of their country. With the nation already in default and capital controls in place to prevent a run on the banks, it’s up to Greece’s citizens to decide what road the country will take from here.
The referendum—which asks Greeks to either vote yes or no to a current proposal from Eurogroup leaders to extend financing to the deeply indebted country— was called for by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras amid meetings of Eurozone leaders as they tried to come up with a deal that would allow the country to avoid default. The call for a vote effectively ended discussions.
Opponents of thecurrent proposal from the Eurogroup feel that the austerity measures put forth by the Eurogroup’s leaders—which would includes things like tax hikes, pension cuts, and reductions in government jobs—are overly harsh and punitive, and could hurt Greeks more than help them.
The retired general and former CIA director holds forth on the Middle East.
ASPEN, Colo.—Retired U.S. Army General David Petraeus pioneered America’s approach to counterinsurgency, led the surge in Iraq, served as director of the CIA for a year, and was sentenced to two years probation for leaking classified information to his mistress. On Wednesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, he was interviewed by my colleague, Jeffrey Goldberg, about subjects including efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program; the civil war in Syria; ISIS and the threat it poses to the United States; and the Iraq War.
Here are several noteworthy moments from their conversation, slightly condensed:
The Risks of Attacking Iran
Jeffrey Goldberg: So you believe that, under certain circumstances, President Obama would still use military force against Iran?
David Petraeus: I think he would, actually. I know we’ve had red lines that didn’t turn out to be red lines. ... I think this is a different issue, and I clearly recognize how the administration has sought to show that this is very, very different from other sort of off-the-cuff remarks.
Goldberg: How did the Obama administration stop Israel from attacking Iran? And do you think that if this deal does go south, that Israel would be back in the picture?
Petraeus: I don’t, actually. I think Israel is very cognizant of its limitations. ... The Israelis do not have anything that can crack this deeply buried enrichment site ... and if you cannot do that, you’re not going to set the program back very much. So is it truly worth it, then?
So that’s a huge limitation. It’s also publicly known that we have a 30,000-pound projectile that no one else has, that no one else can even carry. The Massive Ordinance Penetrator was under design for almost six years. ... If necessary, we can take out all these facilities and set them back a few years, depending on your assumptions.
But that’s another roll of the iron dice, as Bismarck used to say, and you never know when those dice are rolled what the outcome is going to be. You don’t know what risks could materialize for those who are in harm’s way.
You don’t know what the response could be by Iran.
There’s always the chance that there will be salvos at Israel, but what if they decide to go at the Gulf states, where we have facilities in every single one.
This is not something to be taken lightly, clearly.