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"a Very Narrow Party Of Angry People"

Yesterday, I linked to a fairly biting critique of congressional Republicans--and to some degree, the GOP in general--that Utah governor Jon Huntsman (himself a Republican) offered in a talk with The Washington Times. I see today that Huntsman--who among other heresies has come out in favor of civil unions--continued in the vein in an interesting Politico interview. (No, the quote that provides the title of this post isn't about the GOP; but the parallel he's making is clear.) A few highlights:

Q: What is your take on the stimulus? Will you take all the money?

A: ... I guess in hindsight we can all say that there were some fundamental flaws with it. It probably wasn’t large enough and, number two, there probably wasn’t enough stimulus effect. For example, a payroll tax exemption or maybe even a cut in the corporate tax…for small and medium-sized businesses for three years, for example. We will take the money...

Q: How is your party doing now and how would you rate the performance of congressional Republicans?

A: You know, it may come as a shock and a surprise, but I don’t pay any attention to what’s coming out of Congress. I couldn’t even tell you what these guys are saying, because it matters so little in our home state and in the region that I represent.... These guys aren’t doing a thing for us. And so what do we do? We have to do it ourselves.... [W]e will be irrelevant as a party until we become the party of solutions and until we become the party of preeminence. ...

Q: In December you talked about people 40 and under having a very different view on the environment. Is there a similar generational gap on gay rights?

A: You hit on the two issues that I think carry more of a generational component than anything else. And I would liken it a bit to the transformation of the Tory Party in the UK…They went two or three election cycles without recognizing the issues that the younger citizens in the UK really felt strongly about. They were a very narrow party of angry people. And they started branching out through, maybe, taking a second look at the issues of the day, much like we’re going to have to do for the Republican Party, to reconnect with the youth, to reconnect with people of color, to reconnect with different geographies that we have lost....

I think we’ve drifted a little bit from intellectual honesty in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, for example, where they would use rigorous science to back up many of their policies, and in this case many of their environmental policies. Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. We declared the war on cancer. A lot of intellectual rigor went into the policies of those days, and we’ve drifted a little bit from taking seriously the importance of science to buttress much of what we’re doing today.

Q: It sounds like what you’re saying is that Republicans need to win the educated class of America.

A: Absolutely.

Keep an eye on this guy, whose name frequently comes up as a potential presidential contender--and who makes little effort to dismiss such talk. Whether there's room for another fabulously wealthy Mormon former businessman with a relatively moderate ideological profile in the race is another matter...

--Christopher Orr