The prediction made in Obama To Pick Utah Gov. Huntsman As China Envoy has been borne out: President Obama has picked one of the GOP's rising stars to become ambassador to China. As the NY Times reported it:
And Andrew Sullivan's more pointed reaction:
For Mr. Obama, the selection of Mr. Huntsman is something of a political coup. Mr. Huntsman has emerged as one of the nation’s most visible Republican governors since he won a second term last year and was expected to at least consider seeking his party’s presidential nomination to run against Mr. Obama.
As the Republican Party forges through a period of reinvention, Mr. Huntsman has been a leading voice for moderation on issues like immigration, gay rights and the environment, even though he has led one of the most conservative states in the country. While it is uncertain whether he would have actually sought the Republican nomination, if he is confirmed by the Senate he will presumably be out of the mix in 2012.
In what can only be called a genius move for the Democrats and a terrible blow to the GOP, Obama has coopted Utah governor John Huntsman to be his new ambassador to China. Huntsman is the one of very few - Jeb and Crist are the others, in my view - who could rescue the GOP from generational oblivion. He's a conservative from Utah, but understands how ugly, bitter and extremist the Republicans have become. A pro-civil union Mormon who gets the problem of climate change, Huntsman was the un-Cheney. And Obama just snagged him.
Don't under-estimate Obama's policial cunning, guys. But for those of us with some small hope of restoring decency and moderation to the right, this is a major blow. What Obama is doing is bringing all the sane conservatives - from Crist to Huntsman to Gates - into his orbit.
And Cheney gets to be the the face of the GOP future.