Tuning in Morning Joe today, I half expected to discover on the set some professional mourners imported from North Korea, keening and crying over the political demise of Jon Huntsman.
Huntsman had had the Morning Joe crowd from hello. The overwhelming winner of the bien-pensant MSM primary was amazingly popular—except with actual Republican voters, who didn't dig his moderate positioning and a tone that some found . . . well, how do you say "supercilious" in Mandarin? Taking today's cake was Joe Scarborough finding Huntsman's "moderate temperament" Reaganesque, and claiming that in rejecting Huntsman, Republicans have "turned their backs" on Ronald Reagan. Video after the jump.
Reagan: moderate temperament? The man whose most famous phrase as a candidate was "I paid for this microphone!" and as president, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"?
Watch Scarborough make perhaps the year's least likely political analogy.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Now seems the best time for [Huntsman] to get out of the race. I will just tell you on a personal note I hate to see it because he is one of the few true conservatives in this race. We are now left with big-government conservatives.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, I would agree. I thought he would have really added to the conversation. But it didn't take off.
. . .
SCARBOROUGH: Again, the great irony is that Jon Huntsman, ideologically, if you look at his record from being governor of Utah forward, Jon Huntsman was the most conservative Republican--small-government conservative--in this race, bar none. Again, the Wall Street Journal said it, Erick Erickson said it, George Will said it. But because he had a moderate temperament, like another guy named Ronald Reagan, he was not seen as being conservative enough. Because he didn't call Barack Obama a Marxist or a fascist or a socialist, he was somehow deemed unworthy, as not hating enough to be a true conservative. If that is how the Republican party defines conservative in 2012, then they have turned their backs not only on Ronald Reagan but also on leaders like Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels.