(Please see update below.) Through the past year's evolution of the Huntsman 2012 campaign, my own reactions went through an altered version of the famous Kübler-Ross cycle. I started with denial: how could a serving member of the Obama Administration possibly run for the nomination of the Tea Party-era GOP? I lurched into admiration (also here, here, and here). I ended with acceptance/regret. And along the way I had the stage of anger/grief.
That stage came last August, because of Huntsman's on-the-fly decision to "raise his hand" and join all the other Republicans in promising to reject a budget deal skewed even 10-to-1 in favor of budget cuts over tax increases. In case you've forgotten, here it is:
That moment was horrible. Right after the debate, my friend Hendrik Hertzberg* observed that Huntsman must have regretted his split-second choice: "This is pure speculation, of course, but I'm fairly sure that Huntsman was riven with regret in the aftermath of his humiliating surrender to fear." At the time and later, other people said similar things: at a critical point of either standing up to, or joining in with, Tea Party anti-tax absolutism, Huntsman had unfortunately signed on.