AP NEWS

Editorial: Huntsman for Moscow

March 10, 2017 GMT

In the current political climate there will be few jobs as thankless as being the next U.S. ambassador to Moscow.

Capitol Hill will remain in the throes of a frenzy of investigations of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. A top U.S. general this week confirmed that Russia has deployed a cruise missile prohibited under a 1987 treaty. And Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its military mischief-making in eastern Ukraine are ongoing.

So it comes as a tremendous relief that President Trump has settled on former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. as the nation’s next ambassador to Russia — subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

Huntsman served as U.S. ambassador to China during the Obama administration and briefly sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

He is in many ways a surprising and a grown-up choice for the post by a president who surely had to put a little of his usual petulance aside to reach out to a man who characterized Trump’s campaign at one point as “nothing but a race to the bottom.”

The two apparently patched things up after Trump secured the GOP nomination.

And surely even Trump has come to realize that he needs a smart, solid choice with a reputation for integrity — unsullied by any of the recent revelations about contacts between Team Trump and Team Putin.

Huntsman can do that, although we surely don’t envy the high-wire act that awaits him from a president who has expressed his admiration for the Russian president (even as U.S. intelligence agencies were documenting his interference in the 2016 election) and other administration and congressional hardliners. Throw in Russia’s intervention in Syria and its determination to keep Bashar Assad in power and you’ve got a parade of potential horribles.

But Huntsman is as good a pick as it will get. Memo to Senate Democrats: For once, go high.