Chris Christie out, Jon Huntsman, Jr. in
By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 1/3/11
Cowboy movies are making a big comeback. We spent 40-some years in the sky with Han Solo, Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Ripley, now we come back to earth and to the epic journey we were born to: The journey west, starring Fess Parker and John Wayne. In that regard, the excellent new Cohen Brothers movie, True Grit, might be considered a reenactment. Like all reenactments, it is a return to original principles. Make no mistake; the journey across the western desert is as essential a transformation to American consciousness as the pilgrim’s progress was to Plymouth Rock. Possibly why Jon Huntsman, Jr., former Governor of Utah, causes such a stir. He has made that journey on our behalf. Maybe he is the one; the one who would bring us forward with him. Bad news for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Christie did the right thing in turning down the new nine mile Hudson River tunnel. But he will have a problem with that. Christie is mentioned prominently in a recent Bloomberg article by James S. Russell about the wonderful high-speed rail to Kowloon and the celestial West Kowloon Terminus. Why don’t we have such a train? Why don’t we have such adventurous steel and glass modernism? We did, of course, a hundred or so years ago; Penn Central, Grand Central Station. Every big industrial city had one, now converted to malls, civic centers or museums. But for America today, the high-speed rail is a fast train to nowhere. In Kowloon, in Singapore and elsewhere in the east, the fast train is the cherry on top of manufacturing empires similar to those we had here in the U.S.A. when Trenton proudly boasted, “Trenton Makes, the World Takes.” Not any more. But it is hard to say so, for a Governor. It sounds so unpositive. “If you build it they will come,” they will tell you. But they won’t. They will go to Kowloon and Singapore.
But Huntsman on the other hand, starts our world again where it is supposed to start in the 21st century, in the western desert. Bad news for Christie and bad news for Mitt Romney as well. In fact, Romney may have been the unintentional stalking horse for Huntsman, getting all of that Mormon stuff out of the way. There is a maybe three-to-five percent creep factor to Romney, not because he is a Mormon, but because of his closeness to the Bushes and his aggressive support of the egregious wartime practices of the immature, younger Bush. And Romney’s claim to be all things to all Americans – Yankee governor, Utah Mormon, son of Detroit – never quite fit any. Huntsman, on the other hand is everything true west should be and then some. Romney did his mission in Paris, Huntsman did his in Taiwan. Romney sees the past, Huntsman lives the future. Huntsman looks across the Pacific with ease and comfort. He sees our future: It is the birth home of two of his astonishing babies, one Indian, one Chinese.
It is being said that President Obama picked Huntsman to be his ambassador to China to keep him from running against him in 2012. I don’t see it. I felt that he saw something in him that he felt in himself; a natural, “high minded” idealism which Obama is said to share with JFK. He might even have seen Huntsman as his replacement; acknowledging that he, Obama, represented the end of an era which began with JFK and even with Lincoln, while Huntsman represents the beginning of our journey ahead.