Next up: Jon Huntsman?

The carousel is turning in the amusement park that is the 2012 Republican primary season, and it looks like the next candidate to take center stage will be “Old One Percent”, the perenially-ignored Jon Huntsman.

Former Utah Governor, Ambassador to Singapore, and Ambassador to China, Huntsman has foreign and economic policy experience far beyond most of the field. But that’s not what is likely to put him ahead. What is?

L to R: Perry, Gingrich, Paul, Bachmann, Romney. Not pictured: Hormone Cain.

The rest of the lineup, which I believe to be a viral marketing ploy to promote The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Who have we got?

Mitt “Eggo” Romney: The head Klown, Romney does come across as Presidential. His greatest failing is an apparent lack of conviction of any sort; to borrow a bad joke from Huntsman, he seems to be running for Waffle House, not the White House.

“Scary” Rick Perry: This upstart leapt into the race to great acclaim, until people learned he couldn’t debate his way out of a paper bag, was soft on illegal immigration, and had no understanding of foreign or domestic policy. Never mind that he snuggles up with Dominionists and teamed up with an anti-gay hate group for an unconstitutional, state-sponsored prayer rally this summer. Somehow people also ignored his earlier “pray for rain” rally . . . which apparently worked, but he wasn’t specific about wanting the rain to be water, not fire.

“Nut” Gingrich: Current Tea Party flavor-of-the-week, Gingrich is certainly the smartest of the second-tier candidates. Smarter than the first-tier candidates, too. He has three major problems: His character issues (repeated adultery) and his professorial approach to debating are the most visible these days. While his debate style garners him respect and gets his positions heard, he doesn’t seem to be so much campaigning for office as hoping for a meaningful dialog on issues. Nut’s third flaw? He’s nuttier than a fruitcake, and a religious bigot to boot! The Gingrinch has announced that atheists can’t be trusted, teams up with Dominionists, and has declared that without a Christian revival, the United States will become “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists.” Huh?

Michele “Batcrackers” Bachmann: The only thing less solid than Bachmann’s tenuous grasp on foreign policy (or facts) is her grip on reality. I’m waiting for the nervous breakdown . . . though we may have already seen it!

Ron “I’m Really an Anarchist” Paul: Wants to eliminate all environmental protection and stop the FDA from forcing drugs to be tested before manufacturers can make claims about them. No, really. Nuttier than Newt.

Last but not least, the now-fading Flavor of Last Month, Mr. October Surprised himself, “Hormone” Cain: I’d expected Hormone’s regressive and horrible “Nein, Nein, Nein! Plan” to be his downfall. Or his general bumbling buffoonery. Instead, it seems his inability to keep his hands off pretty women will take care of that for him.

While Romney manages to keep his head above water, the other candidates rise up one at a time, like noxious bubbles in the bath after an ill-advised visit to Taco Bell. Fortunately, they burst and dissipate quickly.

But the Waffle Man isn’t too popular among conservatives; Erick Erickson of RedState today decided to “walk back” his earlier outright rejection of Jon Huntsman. He thinks that Romney will beat the field and win the nomination, then lose the election.

While Erickson stops short of endorsing Huntsman, after reviewing the “pathetic lot” described above and realizing that Romney isn’t a conservative, he thinks Huntsman is worth another look.

So does the Wall Street Journal, with open praise for Huntsman’s economic plan in a September editorial.

Huntsman isn’t beloved by the Tea Party for several reasons — among them, that he believes in evolution and global warming. He also supports same-sex civil unions. In other words, he’s more or less a moderate who doesn’t make all his policy decisions based on religious dictates.

Will Huntsman rise above 1%? I think he deserves, and is going to get, a more serious look. He may even rise above 10%.

Huntsman’s got a long row to hoe to make it to the first tier, but with every other candidate imploding in so spectacular a manner, the process of elimination could well leave Huntsman and Romney as the last men standing.

[Hey, you didn’t mention Rick Santorum! Nope. Why bother?]

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