More linguistic sparring in the GOP primaries

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The GOP primaries have entered what is perhaps the most critical period of time in deciding the nominee for the 2012 election. Rick Perry was expected to drop out after Iowa but decided to stay in the race, and assuming he does less well than expected in South Carolina then even he will probably decide to throw in the towel. Ron Paul continues to do quite well, Huntsman did well in New Hampshire but what his next plans are remains uncertain, and so on.

With things heating up, there is also a bit of debate over foreign languages and whether they are an asset or a liability. For example this new video from Newt Gingrich comparing Mitt Romney to John Kerry for their proficiency in French:



For the whole video of Mitt Romney speaking French, see here (embedding is disabled for this video). Actually not too bad, sounds kind of like a Canadian politician that has learned the language in order to not face questions for being unilingual in an officially bilingual country.

Newt Gingrich's Spanish is much more cringeworthy. See here for a video of him apologizing in Spanish a few years back.

And then of course there's Jon Huntsman and his proficiency in Chinese - an article today in Politico goes into some detail about that. It doesn't look like Huntsman has a real path to victory in 2012 (to be honest), but it will be interesting to see if the same is true in 2016 if he runs again. I'm not sure when the breaking point will be where a knowledge of China is regarded by average GOP voters as an asset, but it can't stay as a liability forever.

Comparing future GDP estimates:

2012: United States $15.5 trillion, China $8.4 trillion

2016: United States $18.3 trillion, China $11.8 trillion

The best thing for Huntsman in 2016 would probably be something like an improbable Santorum nomination, and subsequent historical defeat. Right now there is a lot of "we've gone with the moderate before, let's nominate a rock-ribbed conservative" sentiment in the party and it may take a full nomination and defeat in the general election to quieten it down.

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