Paging Kal of TMND on the Tea Party

Kal of the Moor Next Door — one of the best blogs on the Maghreb and one of the best English-language Aran world blogs tout court — cites my recent National piece on the Tea Party approvingly, but takes an issue with oen thing:

Issandr is incorrect to describe “all” of the Republican hopefuls as “akin to religious fundamentalists”. There is at least one, Jon Huntsman, who does not fit the mold of the fried Twinkie crowd this year. Huntsman, the Obama administration’s former Ambassador to China, is a middle of the road Mormon from Utah (where he was governor). By virtually any measure he has many fewer remarks about Islam or Muslims than his opponents and none of those one can find reflect the cruel recycled anti-Semitic tropes where “Hebrew” or “Jew” is replaced with “Islamist” or “[crypto-] Muslim” heard on the House floor and at Tea Party rallies. His family appears to fit the stereotype of the western Mormon familybig, happy and wholesome. He has virtually all of the substantive foreign policy experience in the Republican primary field. While wiry, he is convincingly presidential in appearance and speaks responsibly and deliberately. If he were a garment, he would be a size medium.

I did not mean to say that all were religious fundamentalists — in fact I only see Bachmann and possibly Perry as such. It was an editing error — I meant to say that some were fundamentalists, not all, but I messed it up as ?I rewrote before filing. It's an important distinction, because like Kal I have been curious about the candidacy of John Huntsman, the outlier in this crowd. A former ambassador to China, he seems to be the strongest candidare on foreign policy (in terms of expertise rather than "toughness", nowadays the favored Republican barometer) and is certainly the most moderate on many if not all issues. And he has good hair, a capital requirement for the American presidency since Ronald Reagan at least. Superficially speaking, the way I feel about Huntsman is that if he weren't a member of an increasingly radical right-wing party, I would consider voting for him (note that I don't know much about his record in Utah, so that could change quickly). Imagine what swing voters might feel compared to a Bachmann or Perry.

I post about this here because The Moor Next Door no longer seems to have comments did not have comments enabled on that post.

4 Comments

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.