Archives: Jon Huntsman’s patriotism is unfairly attacked

Originally published in May 2011
Simon Nguyen

Presidential candidates are subjected to many things. He may be asked to provide his birth certificate, recall how many books he has read, and show that he still has his bearings. In the case of GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, his loyalty to the country is coming under unfair scrutiny. The former U.S. ambassador to China is accused by conservative blogger Erick Erickson of putting political ambitions over service during his ambassadorship.

Erickson fails, however, to provide any concrete evidence that Huntsman had either neglected or abused his post. His concern appears to stem from the fact that Huntsman was a known aspirant to the presidency when he accepted Obama’s appointment, and from comments made by Huntsman during his service hinting of a potential presidential run. Was the former Utah governor wrong to accept the ambassadorship when he had such lofty political ambitions?

Erickson’s argument is erroneous on many levels. If harboring political ambitions while serving as a public servant translates to being disloyal to one’s country, many of our government officials past and present would have been found guilty of disloyalty. For instance, many Republican officeholders are plotting to run against the commander-in-chief of the United States. Does that mean all of them are disloyal to the country?

Jon Huntsman had no clear political motives when he accepted the post of ambassador to China. As a former governor of Utah and the ambassador to Singapore under President George H. W. Bush, Huntsman did not need this diplomatic post to bolster his resume. Also, he was probably aware that his service under a democratic administration would negatively affect his standing with Republicans. There was no political point to score.

Huntsman’s presidential aspiration was well-known long before he was nominated for the ambassadorship. Consequently, his diplomatic work in China had undoubtedly been closely monitored by his boss. It is inconceivable that the former Utah governor would have done anything improper during his two-year diplomatic stint to jeopardize his political career. Huntsman clearly took on this ambassadorship out of a sense of duty. The misguided attack on Huntsman’s patriotism is undeniably out of line.

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