by Chris Bodenner
Zvika Krieger profiles Obama's new ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman. As a presidential hopeful, the Utah Republican was simply too moderate for a shrunken base, too Mormon for its evangelicals, and too unknown to eclipse the other Mormon moderate in the race:
Two years was probably not enough time for the party to change. "He realized he'd just be beating his head against the wall with these guys, which made him open to the phone call [from Obama]," says another source close to Huntsman. ... Heading to Beijing will allow Huntsman to sit out the mess that will probably envelop the GOP over the next few years, and return as a fresh face in time to gear up for 2016. It is also likely that some of his more controversial positions, particularly on civil unions, will become less toxic by then.
We can hope. Krieger also points to an interesting paradox of Utah politics:
He joins a long tradition of moderate Republicans from Utah, despite--or perhaps because of--the fact that the state is the reddest in the country, with the GOP holding every statewide office and more than two-thirds of the state legislature. The GOP lock on Utah politics allows the party to welcome a broader swathe of politicians, and breed leaders who are less combative and ideological than their besieged colleagues in more competitive states.