Blandness Versus Details

Ramesh Ponnuru’s interview with Jon Huntsman is a marvel: Huntsman manages to remain completely unspecific about everything. Pakistan!

We have to be very, very careful about aid money going into Pakistan. It’s a very, very difficult problem, and one where you could imagine someone like a Musharraf-type leader emerging once again.

Defense spending!

It’s not just as simple as saying there are areas where we can cut, although if you look at a $650 billion budget, clearly there are some areas where we can make savings.

Whether we should set an economic growth target!

The market will do that… what a government should do is create the environment for growth.

How long can Huntsman inhabit the sweet spot where he’s not really saying anything but getting quoted anyway? Should he he stay there? Because the alternative is the situation Tim Pawlenty is in, which Huntsman is framing himself against: Specificity. Pawlenty comes out with an economic speech, sets a 5 percent GDP growth goal, talks about how low taxes should be , and voila – lots of chum to go after, lots of details that suggest what his priorities would be. Are they unrealistic? Of course they are. Ronald Reagan promised that supply-side tax cuts would do more than they did. But reporters are suckers for numbers, and base voters are suckers for promises.