DIPLOMACY

Obama Makes GOP Rival Ambassador

Utah Gov. John Huntsman Jr.'s move from the statehouse to the U.S. Embassy in China seems a no-brainer given his resume—Huntsman speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, has an adopted daughter from China, and previously served as a diplomat in Singapore before taking office. But Barack Obama's reported decision to name Huntsman as ambassador to China also carries tremendous political benefits for the president back home. Huntsman is practically the only prominent Republican moderate in the country who is still popular with his constituents and is considered a likely presidential candidate in 2012. Obama's 2008 campaign manager recently singled Huntsman out as a candidate he feared in a potential 2012 matchup thanks to his centrist appeal. Now, with Huntsman out of the picture for the foreseeable future, it seems the Dick Cheney wing of the party will be free to rule the roost without any major GOP moderates around to counter their message.