Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who recently finished a stint as U.S. ambassador to China, gave the commencement address at the University of South Carolina over the weekend.
Huntsman, who is considering a 2012 presidential bid, told the cap-and-gown crowd about his rock-and-roll past. He also cited Ben Folds, the alternative-rock pianist, as his favorite musician.
My initial passion in life was to be a rock-n-roll musician. In my late teens you wouldn’t have recognized me. My hair was Rod Stewart shaggy; I wouldn’t wear anything but super skinny jeans, I ended up leaving high school a bit short of graduation to play with a band called Wizard. I thought it was my ticket to fame.
We rolled in the ugliest green Ford Econoline van you could ever imagine with fold up chairs in the back. It was pretty awesome until those inconvenient intersections, curves and stoplights caused those chairs to move around just a little bit. Seat-belts weren’t exactly enforced in those days.
Well Wizard didn’t make it, but I’ll never regret following my passion.
Sometimes we take America for granted. Sometimes we forget we have the freedom to pursue any passion—while many in this world do not.
Over at Commentary, Johnathan S. Tobin observes:
But whether it plays well or not, political observers may need to get used to hearing the autobiographical pitch that Huntsman used in his commencement speech. He likes to recall that he dropped out of high school to play in a band. The Washington Post noted that with this story, Huntsman might “add a measure of cool to a field that has yet to find traction or a solid front-runner.” Of course, what passes for “cool” among Republican Mormons from Utah might not exactly measure up to any objective standard of cool in the general population. But if, as the expression goes, a one-eyed man is king in the land of the blind, perhaps candidate Huntsman has a chance to become the king of Republican cool.