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(As you can see this is somewhat dated. The arrangement with syndicators means this appears here about a week after its newspaper release)


       FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019  
       CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
       BOB FRANKEN
       FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JAN. 17, 2012
       THE END OF HUNTSMAN’S HUNT
       BY BOB FRANKEN
       The appropriate observation about the latest from the world of politics is downright Orwellian: Sanity is Insanity. How else would we describe Jon Huntsman’s belief that he could succeed by taking the middle of the road, using rational ideas against competition that is way out there, spouting extremist babble that is only sometimes coherent.
       Happily for Huntsman, he seems to have regained his connection to reality by pulling out of the race. Now he can reconcile those fantasies where he assumed he ever had a chance. Obviously, he had some moments when it occurred to him that this wasn’t quite right; the time, for instance, when he tweeted “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
       OK, Jon. You were crazy. You want evidence? How about when you uttered, “I don’t think you need to run down somebody’s reputation in order to run for the office of president”? Of course you do, Jon. What would possess you to think otherwise? It was that kind of thinking that put you so far down in the South Carolina polls ... way down. Even Stephen Colbert was ahead of you, and his participation is a big joke.
       Of course, “big joke” might describe the candidacies of those still in the running. Surely when Mitt Romney declared that “Corporations are people,” he was making a funny. Or when Rick Santorum compared gay relationships to bestiality, he couldn’t have been serious. Could he? Actually, someone thinks so, since he got that endorsement from evangelicals.
       We don’t even need to list all the wild rantings of Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul. First of all, there isn’t enough space, and besides, they would be hard to believe outside the election loony bin. As Rick Perry said, “Oops.” By the way, Perry is still strutting his stuff.
 


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       I mean, you never had a chance, Jon. You may as well have been speaking Chinese. Oh, that’s right: You did speak Chinese. Don’t you realize just how damaging that was? This is the year when Gingrich has contemptuously attacked Romney for knowing French. And there you were, spouting Mandarin. Wasn’t it clear to you that in 2012, foreign languages are verboten?
       Besides, all you accomplished was to remind everyone on your side that you had spent time on the other side, as ambassador to Beijing for President Barack Obama, the devil incarnate.
       In response, all you could do is mumble something about serving your country when the president calls, yada yada ... but many of those whose votes you have been trying to attract don’t believe this president was born in this country, so you were doomed from the start. Never mind that you had served two terms as GOP governor of Utah or that you were deputy trade representative under George W. Bush, you had consorted with the enemy.
       Now it’s over. Muttering about how this is “not worthy of the American people,” like this is some profound revelation, you’re giving up that space on the far reaches of the stages where they  held all those debate group therapy sessions. You can retire and wonder just how it is you never got that manic-depressive roller-coaster ride from the depths to the top and then down again; yours was only a downward slide from the high expectations on opening day. But take comfort. No longer do you have to cater to the religious extremists and other agents of intolerance. You don’t have to grovel to the wealthy who refuse to share their ill-gotten gains. You’ve come to your senses. Of course, some will wonder how it is you can split while endorsing Mitt Romney, a man you are known to dislike. Maybe there is some method to your madness. You’re getting out while he stays behind, where the inmates definitely are running the asylum.
      

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