Huntsman’s new pander-based strategy takes shape

I can imagine the scene at Huntsman campaign headquarters. The unannounced candidate sits down with his advisers who tell him, “Republicans don’t like your record on health care, the environment, immigration, economic policy, gay rights, TARP, or service in the Obama administration.”

Huntsman replies, “Well, what do Republicans like?”

The advisers respond, “They like Paul Ryan’s House GOP budget plan.”

And so, Huntsman has decided to put two and two together — and has embraced the radical Republican agenda with both arms.

Two weeks ago, the former Obama administration official announced his support for the GOP plan, including an explicit endorsement of the provision ending Medicare. Today, Huntsman goes further, writing an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that, after name dropping Reagan and Goldwater, talks up the Ryan proposal.

The debt ceiling must be raised this summer to cover the government’s massive borrowing, and we must make reductions in government spending a condition for increasing the debt ceiling. This will provide responsible leaders the opportunity to reduce, reform, and in some cases end government programs — including some popular but unaffordable subsidies for agriculture and energy — in order to save the trillions, not billions, necessary to make possible a future as bright as our past. It also means reforming entitlement programs that won’t deliver promised benefits to retirees without changes that take account of the inescapable reality that we have too few workers supporting too many retirees.

I admire Congressman Paul Ryan’s honest attempt to save Medicare. Those who disagree with his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare’s ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans.

Of course, in reality, the GOP plan isn’t an “honest attempt to save Medicare” at all. It’s certainly not “honest,” relying on fraudulent numbers that don’t add up, and it doesn’t “save” Medicare, but rather, replaces it with a privatized voucher scheme.

But reality clearly isn’t the point; Huntsman’s desperate pandering is.

This comes, by the way, the same week as Huntsman named Paul Ryan one of his political heroes.

The strategy has all the subtlety of a wrecking ball.