Republican Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to be Named US Ambassador to China

This is about a transparently political move as I’ve ever seen. Governor Jon Huntsman was seen as a real contender for the 2012 presidential election, but, as Andrew Malcolm at the LAT Top of the Ticket points out, with him all the way on the other side of the world in China, it will not only be impossible for him to get his feet on the ground to meet and greet in Iowa and New Hampshire, but also he won’t be able to be to criticize the Obama administration even if he does manage to run, since he will have been part of that administration.

My first question upon reading Andrew’s post was “he won’t actually accept this appointment, will he?” Michelle Malkin tells us that yes, he is going to accept the appointment. This Salt Lake Tribune report gives us all the details:

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will resign from office to accept a nomination to become the ambassador to China.

Sources tell The Salt Lake Tribune that an announcement is scheduled for Saturday. Huntsman is in Washington, D.C., but calls to his spokeswoman and various staffers were not returned Friday night.

Huntsman, who had been mentioned as a potential Republican contender for the White House, was nominated by President George H.W. Bush as ambassador to Singapore — he was the youngest ambassador in over a century — and later was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as Deputy United States Trade Representative. He was unanimously confirmed to both positions.

He speaks Mandarin Chinese and he and his wife, Mary Kaye, have adopted a daughter from China.

Huntsman had been scheduled to travel to China next week as part of a delegation of Western governors visiting the nation to discuss climate change, alternative energy and clean air technologies.

That trip was canceled due to concerns by some of the governors over the swine flu outbreak.
Huntsman will be replaced by Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert who would serve through 2010, at which time a replacement would be elected until 2012.

Because Herbert is a conservative, the Democrats, who will be panting to win the governorship in the special election in 2010, will paint him as rabid, overbearing, and inflexible. He will have to get ahead of the game and make sure he defines himself before the Dems do it for him.

Update: Jake Tapper has background information on how Huntsman was chosen and why he accepted. The gist is that Jeff Bader who is part of Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff has been friends with Huntsman for a while now and recommended him highly. Huntsman said that when the president called on him, he could not say no. Huntsman seems like an honorable man. Unfortunately, his honor is being wasted on the most thuggish, partisan, and duplicitous president we’ve had in a very long time.

Allahpundit offers several reasons why he thinks Huntsman accepted Obama’s offer, with this one being the last and most interesting:

(c) He was aiming at 2016 all along and this is actually a brilliant move to burnish his bipartisan cred and his foreign-policy gravitas in advance, especially insofar as it makes him a player with a rising superpower like China.

Great Dictator Roundup
Torture Debate Bites Democrats