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  Jon Huntsman’s immoderation
Parent(s) Candidate 
Last EditedJason  Jan 15, 2012 03:26pm
Logged 1 [Current]
AuthorEzra Klein
MediaNewspaper - Washington Post
News DateWednesday, January 11, 2012 08:20:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionKevin Drum is right : Policy isn’t the only thing that matters. Part of Jon Huntsman Jr.’s reputation for moderation is the tone in which he campaigns, and his willingness to buck the base on climate change and evolution.

But is he really so willing to buck the base? Example A for Huntsman’s independence is a tweet he wrote early in the campaign, where he said, “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” But how much does that tell us, really? Huntsman opposes efforts to do anything about global warming. So which is more moderate? Michele Bachmann’s position, which is that global warming isn’t real and thus we don’t need to do anything about it, or Huntsman’s, which is that global warming is real but we don’t need to do anything about it? I’d take Bachmann’s position, actually.

There’s a larger point here: One reason it’s useful to watch a candidate’s policy is that it’s a way of testing the sincerity of their persona. Huntsman sure seemed moderate when he tweeted his support for global warming, but his opposition to policies that would actually do anything about global warming should’ve aroused suspicion. And sure, enough, when Huntsman’s strategy of challenging the GOP base proved ineffective, he began to backtrack a bit. He told a group of conservative bloggers that scientists “owe us more in terms of a better description or explanation” on the climate change, and that “there’s not information right now to formulate policies in terms of addressing it over all, primarily because it’s a global issue.”

He later reiterated his baseline belief in climate change, but these seem like the wiggles of a candidate regretting a messaging decision that didn’t pan out and can no longer be reversed, not the actions of an independent politician who is sincerely concerned by climate change. Which goes, again, to the virtues of keeping an eye on policy: Candidates routinely change their
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