Post filled with thoughtfulness, not just politics

President Barack Obama has appointed Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah as America’s ambassador to China.
Huntsman speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently. He was ambassador to Singapore in the final year of President George Bush’s term and was deputy trade ambassador for him. He is well qualified for the post.
The appointment was unexpected — by the governor or most political observers — because Gov. Huntsman is not only a Republican but also was co-chairman of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign and has been widely mentioned as a potential Republican presidential nominee in 2012 or 2016.
President Obama call-ed the post “as important as any in the world” and said “we will launch a new era of partnership between our two nations that will advance our shared dreams of opportunity and security in America, in Asia and around the world. I can think of no more important assignment than creating the kinds of bridges between our two countries that will determine the wellbeing not just of Americans and Chinese, but also the future of the world.”
The appointment has been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike, although some Republicans are cool toward the Utahan be-cause of his moderate stands on gay rights, immigration and the environment.
Clearly, President Obama picked Huntsman because of his outstanding qualifications to serve in one of the most sensitive diplomatic assignments the U.S. has to offer. For his part, the governor accepted the job because he puts his country before his own personal ambitions, recognizing that serving a Democratic president may not be the best way to win endorsements in upcoming Republican presidential primaries.
The decisions made by these two men, and the reasons they gave for taking them, are refreshing. Gov. Huntsman said he would not change his party affiliation. He apparently thinks a Re-publican can serve his country and a Democratic president without changing his political stripes.
“When the president of the United States asks you to step up and serve in a capacity like this, that to me is the end of the conversation and the beginning of the obligation to rise to the challenge,” said Mr. Huntsman.
And, of course, he is right. Our democracy functions best when it is also a meritocracy; when the men and women who are the ship’s crew are highly qualified for the jobs they hold. Huntsman’s appointment was a bold affirmation of that philosophy.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.

P.S. On second thought, the president’s appointment may also be a political coup. He won election on promises to end politics as usual. Picking a high-profile Republican leader for this critically important diplomatic post is a step toward keeping those promises. E. L.