The current US ambassador to China is apparently a dark horse candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination. James Fallows doesn’t think much of his prospects.
So why doesn't this mean, "Huntsman 2012"? Let's start with the most obvious deal breaker. The basic narrative of the "out" party, when a first-term president is running for a second term, is "Your Administration is Wrecking Our Country! We can't stand Four More Years! We need a total change!" That is what every Republican will have to say about the Obama Administration.
Huntsman is part of the Obama Administration. He is right in the middle of dealings with America's most important foreign-policy partner/challenge. So in the GOP Primaries, how exactly is he going to out-anti-Obama anyone else in the field, given that he has served Obama (and, yes, the country) so loyally? The retorts from all the other Republicans are almost too easy. "IfAmbassssadorrr Huntsman is so concerned about the Obama threat to America, then why,...?"
The fact that Huntsman is now working for the Czar may be the point about this whole thing. As I’ve said before, Beijing likes Republicans, especially Republicans of the “business of America is business” type. And Bush the elder, once America’s man in Beijing, gave China valuable political cover after Tiananmen, limiting the international fallout from that little incident while it reorganized itself and got back on the reform and opening up track. So the thought that another US ambassador may become president is not only flattering in itself, but encourages Beijing to help make his stint a success and adopt a generally friendly and cooperative attitude to US policies. That might be the theory, anyway.