This is smart and wicked clever: The President has appointed Jon Huntsman, the popular governor of Utah, as Ambassador to China. It’s smart because Huntsman knows China and is fluent in Mandarin, qualities that will be well received in China. He also has real stature, a co-chair of John McCain’s presidential campaign and a voice for sanity in the Republican Party ever since–taken together, these attributes lend “face” to the appointment, a real show of respect that the Chinese leadership will appreciate.
It is wicked clever because I’d marked Huntsman as a very hot longshot for the Republican presidential nomination on my 2012 tout sheet and so had many other handicappers. This probably takes him out of that picture, but marks him as a real player in both foreign policy and presidential politics in the years to come.
He’s a high quality choice–and yet another indication that Obama is not giving up on his desire for bipartisan unity, especially overseas, even if the Republican Party continues to be relentlessly obstructionist.