Huntsman was remarkable mostly because he was the only Republican in the field who really never had his moment in the limelight. In a year when many Republicans seem to be looking for an alternative to Mitt Romney, no one really ever looked Huntsman’s way. He never made an impact in the debates, he never caught fire in the opinion polls, and he therefore never had the chance to crash and burn like other candidates in the field. After spending lots of time and money in New Hampshire, he finished a limp third. No wonder he decided to toss in the towel.
I doubt if Huntman’s endorsement of Mitt Romney will influence many voters. The main impact of Huntsman’s departure will be to eliminate another podium and another suit from the stage during those interminable Republican debates. For that, at least, American voters can be grateful.
Now that we are heading squarely into the 2012 campaign — did a hear a collective groan? — I need to unburden myself about one thing that I just hate: when politicians who no longer occupy an office still are addressed by the title they once held.
If you see Sarah Palin being interviewed, you’re likely to hear her addressed as “Governor Palin.” Alan Simpson, once a Senator from Wyoming, still gets called “Senator Simpson.” Why? This is America, where we don’t have hereditary titles. If you occupy an office, of course you should be addressed by the appropriate title. But if you’ve left the job, in my book you’ve left the title, too. It’s like the scene in the John Adams mini-series where Adams, having been defeated in his bid for reelection, boards a common coach and tells the surprised fellow passengers that he is just “Mr. Adams” now. If only the less accomplished members of the modern political class were as willing to assume the role of a mere American citizen again!
So as this campaign season rolls onward, don’t expect to hear me referring to “Governor Romney” or “Governor Pawlenty” or “Governor Huntsman” (or for that matter “Ambassador Huntsman”). In the land of the free, “Mr.” is what they are, and “Mr.” is what they should be called.