The GOP is a religious and cultural force dominated by evangelicals, and fixated on total rejection of establishment or liberal ideas. Huntsman has acknowledged climate change, alone among the candidates. He has backed civil unions for gays, alone among the candidates. These two positions, in my view, all but dismissed him from the race from the get-go. His radical tax reform ideas are therefore ignored in favor of Herman Cain's. His energy policy is trumped by Perry's desire to turn the entire US into Texas (because Texas is about the only place he barely understands). And he worked for Barack Obama in China and speaks fluent Mandarin (not that I can tell whether he's fluent but he gives a good impression of it on TV). These are all culturally anathema to what the GOP now is.
When you realize this intelligent and capable two-term governor from the rock-ribbed Republican state of Utah, with deep domestic and foreign policy experience, has one tenth of the support of a pizza guy who emerged from motivational speaking and talk radio, and who admits he knows nothing about foreign policy and has never held elective office in his life ... well, you have the core reality of today's Ailes-led, resentment-fueled GOP.
This, dear readers, THIS is why the Republicans will lose in 2012. Once they embrace reality -- and at some point, they will at the risk of losing relevance -- a guy like Huntsman, who is intelligent, conservative, and sensible in the way Obama is intelligent, progressive, and sensible, can find a home in the GOP. I fear, however, that it will take a schism in the GOP church over gays and abortion (witness Amendment 26 in Mississippi, which seeks to confer "personhood" status on a fertilized embryo) to create a real political party that can offer reality-based alternatives to the Democratic agenda.