David Plouffe, who managed the Obama campaign, conceded recently that he saw Huntsman as one of the few Republicans on presidential caliber, and hinted that, for Democrats' sake, he hoped Huntsman doesn't run in 2012.It's not that Huntsman would have gotten through the 2012 primaries anyway. He's definitely in the Mitt Romney/Country Club Moderate mold and just not enough of a far right nutbar for the likes of Malkinvania. Being able to speak fluent Mandarin and having an adoptive Chinese daughter would have just gotten him attacked in a brutally personal fashion by his own party for "being too close to Red China."
Now, that probably won't be an issue.
By tapping Huntsman for the job, Obama gets a Mandarin-speaking official -- something Chinese leaders will no doubt appreciate -- while also removing a credible re-election challenger. The president also boosts his bipartisan cred by adding another high-profile Republican to his administration.
By taking Obama's out, Huntsman shows he's smart enough to be one of those few people who doesn't want to be President in 2012, but 2016 is another story.
I don't see this blowing up in Obama's face like Judd Gregg did, either. For a Republican, Huntsman is almost frighteningly reasonable.