Obama has a nice-guy personality that he presents to the world, but his political instincts have always been pretty hard-core. He won his initial State Senate race by forcing everyone else off the ballot after getting their official signatures disqualified. That's what I'm reminded of by today's move sending Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to Beijing as the US Ambassador to China. Aside from being qualified for the job by spending a lot of time in Asia and speaking fluent Mandarin, Huntsman is a rising young star in the Republican Party mentioned often as a potential 2012 Presidential candidate. Just a couple weeks ago, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe labeled Huntsman the biggest threat to Obama in 2012. So the President up and co-opted him.
Huntsman may be playing a long game, getting the imprimatur of a popular President and setting up for a future run way down the road. But I tend to reject the idea that the GOP primary voters would nominate anyone who took a job in the Obama Administration. At any rate, in the short-term, Obama just neutralized the guy his campaign manager saw as the toughest opponent to his re-election.
I wish he would use this kind of strategy against the ConservaDems...