Kudos to President Obama for selecting Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China, and kudos to Mr. Huntsman for accepting the position.
Of course, cynics on both sides of the proverbial isle were quick to point out the political advantages to both men: Obama tucks a powerful and popular Republican away on the other side of the world, and Huntsman adds to his political credentials for a possible future run for higher office.
If they’re smart (and both men are very smart), they considered many things in making their decisions. Obama’s question to his advisors was, “Who’s the best person in America for the job?” (Not “Who’s the best Democrat?”) And Huntsman seems to be a man for whom service to God and country is a big value. How better to serve than to use his expertise and experience in Asia to benefit the interests of two countries he loves—and a world that increasingly depends on international understanding and cooperation.
And how refreshing it will be to have an ambassador who actually speaks the language of the country in which he serves! For too long, America’s attitude toward other nations has ranged from condescending to paternal to arrogant. News clips of American ambassadors abroad have inevitably shown them speaking with heads of state in English—the only language the ambassadors knew.
In Huntsman, we have an ambassador who understands not only the primary language of China but also business and governance—areas in which his host country is struggling to emerge into the modern world. This is what candidate Obama promised and what America needs—bipartisan cooperation and dedication to something higher than politics.