A new and nearly unheard of - in national political circles - candidate has entered the race for the Republican nomination to challenge Barack Hussein Obama next year and stands as a shining example of a person with an insufficient public persona attempting to cloak himself in the guise of a previously successful person.
Just like John F. Kerry unsuccessfully attempted to portray himself as a latter day John F. Kennedy in 2004, Jon Huntsman who is so unremarkable that his own staff misspelled his name on his announcement stationery, is attempting to portray himself as a latter day Ronald Reagan.
It didn't work for Kerry and it won't work for Huntsman.
All else aside, there are two strikes against Huntsman already: he worked for Barack Hussein Obama as ambassador to China; and the American Terrorist Media loves this guy so much that they have progressed from tingles up their pant legs to virtual orgasms.
Either situation is an automatic disqualifier in my book and hopefully in the books of GOP primary voters across the country too.
Huntsman made his announcement in New Jersey's Liberty State Park, the same site where Reagan opened his 1980 presidential campaign with the Statue of Liberty in the background. But aside from the backdrop any similarity between Huntsman and Reagan ends right there.
In fact, Rush Limbaugh had a blast this week rebroadcasting excerpts from Ronald Reagan's announcement speech when he took on ex-president jimmy carter, and Huntsman's announcement speech where he promised to carry Barack Hussein Obama's water. What a difference.
Reagan took it right to Carter, promising and delivering a no-holds-barred campaign, while Huntsman opined that Obama is really a very nice guy who just has marginal policies. Whooppeee, we're in for a hot one now folks. Bleeeccchhh.
This entire approach of trying to recast oneself in someone else's image leaves me high and dry. If you can't portray yourself to the American public as who you really are, with expectations that the voting public will respond to you and your ideas - especially with modern marketing tools - you may as well quit before you start wasting everyone's time.
Remember John "Chameleon" Kerry when he went out to the Midwest on a bird hunting campaign appearance? Walked into a sporting goods store and the guy who talked about Genghis Khan with a soft 'g' in 1971, attempting to be the ultimate pseudo-intellectual back then, in 2004 asks the store clerk "Can I get me a hunting license here?"
'Get me a hunting license?' Really?
Did Ronald Reagan attempt to sell himself as a reincarnation of someone else? NO! He portrayed himself as himself and the public responded ... twice!
Did John F. Kennedy campaign on how much he was like some previous president? No way! He couldn't, he was the first Catholic to be elected president. Good grief even Obama didn't campaign on his similarities to someone else, he ran as himself -whomever that might be.
Kerry's unsuccessful attempt to build a link between himself and Kennedy should be a model of what NOT to do in a presidential campaign.
Kerry, who knew the Kennedys when he was a youngster, planned out his presidential bid decades in advance. Members of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who worked tirelessly to portray the real John Kerry to American voters recalled that he carried a motion picture camera with him in Vietnam, a very, very rare occurrence in those days - especially for troops in combat who were too busy trying to stay alive to film themselves doing it.
When Kerry made his bid for the presidency his commercials were full of dashing images of American Swift Boats on patrol in Vietnam's waters; remarkably similar to Victory at Sea images of World War II PT Boats, which were Kennedy's claim to fame. In fact, the movie PT-109 about Kennedy's boat being destroyed by a Japanese destroyer and Kennedy's true-life valor in surviving and help save other crew members, included scenes that appeared to be recast in Kerry's commercials.
But John F. Kerry was NOT John F. Kennedy and all the commercials in the world could not stop the truth from emerging. His betrayal of fellow Vietnam vets in his phony Winter Soldier hearings in 1971; his violation of his oath as a US Naval officer when he went to Paris and held unauthorized, and illegal, meetings with Vietnamese communists; his inclusion in the communist war museum in Saigon as a Hero of the Revolution - right there with Jane Fonda; his betrayal as co-chair of the Senate Select Committee on POWs and MIAs of more than 300 POWs left behind in Laos; all these transgressions caught up with him.
Oddly enough, in Huntsman's case the national electorate doesn't know enough about him yet to fully understand what are certain to be his weaknesses. On the surface his resume looks pretty good - twice elected Gov. of Utah, with a huge majority the second time; an exemplary Eagle Scout; the guy who made the largest tax reduction in Utah's history, and still ended the year with a budget surplus.
But what is certain to make many voters squirm is that he has worked in appointed positions in the administrations of presidents from both parties, including Reagan's but that was decades ago. Meaning he is part of the establishment, meaning he is tainted, meaning he is going to have to reinvent himself if he is going to gain a foothold with voters across the political spectrum who are sick to death of the establishment and the status quo. Huntsman's travels on all sides of the political spectrum automatically make him suspect as a RINO and as a ringer.
So Jon Huntsman has his work cut out for him ... starting with building an identity that will work with the voters if he is so uncertain of his true self. But my advice would be to lay off the Ronald Reagan comparisons.
We've already seen the real Ronald Reagan and that act is impossible to follow.
Friday, June 24, 2011