WEAVER SEES GOP ‘HEADED FOR A BLOWOUT’…. Just a few weeks ago, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) added Republican strategist John Weaver, a long-time John McCain confidant, onto his team. It was a move that signaled Huntsman’s interest in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Now, of course, Huntsman is headed to Beijing as the Obama administration’s ambassador to China, and Weaver is left to wonder what could have been. In the meantime, Weaver spoke to Byron York about their party’s future.

The Republican strategist who helped Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman prepare for a possible presidential run says the Republican party is in for a devastating defeat if its guiding lights are Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney. “If it’s 2012 and our party is defined by Palin and Limbaugh and Cheney, then we’re headed for a blowout,” says strategist John Weaver, who advised Huntsman and was for years a close adviser to Sen. John McCain. “That’s just the truth.” […]

“I firmly believe that Huntsman and people like him are the prescription for what ails us,” says Weaver. “But I have the feeling that our party maybe won’t order that prescription in 2012.”

This, not surprisingly, has not gone over well among many conservatives, including the blog at the Weekly Standard.

Seeing this reinforces one of the GOP’s fundamental problems right now: it’s a shrinking party, and the folks who are left like it just the way it is. Those who want to help drag Republicans back into the mainstream either leave or find themselves pariahs with no influence at all.

It becomes self-perpetuating. Palin, Limbaugh, and Cheney drive people away from the GOP, which in turn leaves Palin, Limbaugh, and Cheney with more power over the smaller, purer party. Their power further alienates those who aren’t hard-core conservatives, which keeps the cycle going.

There’s a Kevin Drum line from October that continues to ring true: “Sarah Palin isn’t the future of their party, she’s the future of mine.”

Weaver seems to get this. His party is likely to ignore him.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.