Defending Mitch Daniels Against Conservative Cannibals

Bookmark and Share  For too long, I have sat by and listened to commercially puritanical pundits, prattle on and preach about a fictitious lack of ideological commitment and credibility that they attribute to Indiana Governor and possible Republican presidential candidate Mitch Daniels. From conservative radio rating hound Rush Limbaugh to the Washington Compost’s commercialized, conservative columnist and blogger Jennifer Rubin, Mitch Daniels is being portrayed as a pseudo-conservative, political establishmentarian, who is preparing to eagerly betray the very ideology that he embodies and which, unlike those holier than thou, backseat conservative commentators, he has actually applied to government. I am sad to say that even Mark Levin, one of the few conservative talking heads that I have any real appreciation for, has jumped on this utterly shameful and undeserved crusade to create a crushing negative impression of Mitch Daniels.

Much of this began several months ago, when the Republican presidential sweepstakes was not even in its embryonic stage, and Governor Daniels stated in an interview, that it was his belief that as we look to 2012, the G.O.P. must call a truce on social issues. The uproar that those words gave rise to, exploded within the ranks of social conservatives with such a force, that even the liberal led lamestream media decided to distort and cover the comments with an intensity that helped make the name, Mitch Daniels, go from being almost unknown to, in terms of ideological commitment, being equated to as storied a figure as Benedict Arnold. The scrutiny and ensuing manufactured translation of the remark, totally ignored the fact that literally translated, a truce means a temporary suspension of certain activity, not a surrender of a cause. But ever since Mitch Daniels’  words were intentionally twisted, he spent the days following his comment, clarifying and explaining that his terminology was based not on a desire to sweep issues like abortion under the rug, but for the need to prioritize that which has reached a level of indisputable crises and that common sense dictates must be taken care of before all else. Those days of explanation soon turned into weeks of edification, and those weeks have now turned in to months of continued explanation.

Still, admirably focused, but spitefully short-sighted, social conservatives do not want to hear it. Instead they decided to ignore one of the most socially conservative records of any Governor in America, and declare that actions do not speak louder than words. Instead of examining Daniels’ deeds and the actual meaning of his words, some social conservatives have taken a page from Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals and adopted a full on frontal assault of one of their own that is akin to the type of hyperbole and twisted tactics that lunatic liberals use against conservatives as a whole.

Think that’s an exaggeration?

See for yourself.

Here’s one example of the type of cannibalistic conservative mentality that the hypocritical Alinsky-like, bomb throwers from within our own ranks have written about Governor Daniels:

“Mitch Daniels is the darling of the Rockefeller Republican elites. He is touted as some kind of policy wonk. In reality he is a man with no backbone. His wife dumped him for another man and he begged her back. Eventually she did and he acted like everything was OK. He backed down to the Labor Unions recently over a Right to Work law. In short, Mitch Daniels is a man without a spine and would be easy meat for The Progressive machine. He is no Conservative and is a Progressive Republican.” –by Rodan, from The Blogmacracy, 4/16/11

This malicious and out-of-bounds treatment of Daniels’ personal life and political record is not only outrageously incorrect, it shows that not only are some elements of the conservative base of the Republican Party willing to ignore facts about one’s actual record, they are also so out of touch with reality and lacking of rational thought and decency that they go out of their way to create their own fictitious storyline . And then they are willing go even further by trying to present their fictional tale as a recitation of historical fact that defines the political fortitude of a proven leader and attack his family. This is something which the left and right accuse each other of doing on a regular basis, but it is not often that one side can be accused of using such tactics on themselves.

In regards to the previously quoted attack on Daniels, to be fair, I concede that Governor Daniels did withdraw his push for sweeping legislative action that would have made Indiana a Right-to-Work state. However the justification for that decision was based on several very real factors that Daniels’ critics had the luxury of ignoring. In addition to the fact that the Right-to-Work initiative jeopardized the passage of many other significant reforms that would have comprised the entirety of Governor Daniels’ conservative agenda, the Right-to-Work issue is not as significant a problem in Indiana as it is in other states.

2010 demonstrated that the number of private-sector workers in Indiana who were members of unions, fell 37 percent over the last decade. This seemingly unstoppable drop in the unionization of private sector jobs is a direct result of Governor Daniels’ years of hard-line positions with unions. This includes his early elimination of binding arbitration which was a most bitter pill that he forced unions to swallow. Because of Mitch Daniels’ take-no-crap stance with unions since first taking office in 2004, unions in Indiana have been forced to accept many conservative reforms which have helped to create an environment that prohibited them from being as overbearing as they are in many other states in the nation. As a result, given the responsibility of leadership that Governor Daniels is in and under the pro-business environment that he has created, he made a judgment call. He decided that in his state, the abusive policy of unionization which forces one to pay dues in order to be employed, was not a severe enough problem to jeopardize the multiple number of other significant and urgent reforms that hung in the balance during this past legislative session. Some of those reforms included limiting collective bargaining for teachers to include only wages and benefits and allowing school districts to establish their own contract terms if negotiations with a union fail after 60 days.

But even if one views these as excuses rather than legitimate reasons for not advancing Right-to Work legislation, should that negate the dozens of other conservative policy and legislative successes Mitch Daniels has achieved in just this most recent legislative session alone? Should social conservatives not be hailing Mitch Daniels for landmark decisions such as enacting legislation that totally denies Planned Parenthood of any tax payer money? Should social conservatives not be enthusiastic with what Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter described as Governor Daniels’ establishing Indiana as “one of the leading pro-life states in the nation.”? Is there any reason for social conservatives to ignore the fact that Governor Daniels’ protection of the unborn has led him to achieve legislation that denies public funds to businesses that profit from abortions, or a bill which ensures that women considering having an abortion are provided the facts regarding such issues as fetal development and alternatives to abortion?

And what of a gubernatorial career full of achievements that other conservative governors have only been able to dream about, such as the ability to tackle the problem of tenure and giving local school districts the right to hire and fire and compensate teachers based on ability, not seniority? What about establishing the largest school choice and charter school expansion in the nation?

Be it on same-sex marriage, education, property rights, abortion, or any other social or fiscal conservative issue, Governor Mitch Daniels� is a champion of them. Yet his call for us to temporarily focus on the greatest and most immediate crisis facing this nation at the moment, fuels the ire of some who are unwilling or unable to accept the reality that requires our nation to properly prioritize our many problems.

Based upon the reality of the record that Mitch Daniels has accumulated, I can only conclude that those who are constantly trying to portray Mitch Daniels is a pseudo-conservative and as the �establishment� candidate, are either ignorant or disingenuous. At the same time it is fortunate that the rants of such insignificant, unaccomplished, wannabe leaders of political thought as Rodan, from virtually unknown tabloid-like blogs such as �The Blogmacracy�, have little, if any, of the influence that they wish they had. If they had their way, real conservatives would have to foam at the mouth to be considered acceptable and electable. If they had their way, every conservative would have to sound like a bitter, tunnel visioned, madman. The type of candidate who would scare more voters away than convince them to join the cause. If these bitter conservative cannibals had their way, we would find ourselves with a field of conservatives overstating a legitimate case for conservative principles that would go so far, it would give another John McCain-like candidate�the opportunity to seem like the only rational candidate in the field, march right up the middle, and win the nomination, and in the end offer us nothing but repeated defeat at the polls.

It is time for conservative pessimists to calm down, get a grip, and begin to change their strategy from the indiscriminate carpet bombing of their own, to more effective precision strikes against those who oppose them.� By demanding that Republicans only consider the nomination of a candidate who insists on striving to be the religious right�s Pastor-in-Chief and forcing them to refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of prioritizing the issues which threaten every aspect of our lives, we are killing our chances of defeating President Obama in 2012 and merely electing, not a presidential nominee, but a Party leader. That Party leader will then have the chance to lead Republicans but they will lose the chance to the lead the nation.

For his part Mitch Daniels put it this way:

“If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice,” he explained “If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone. We are in this together. Whatever our honest disagreements on other questions, might we set them aside long enough to do some very difficult things without which we will be a different, lesser country?”

This is the thinking which led Mitch Daniels to articulate the need to prioritize the economic issues which are the cause of an erosion of society that undermines everything from the defense of the unborn, the value of family, the education of our children, and the defense of our nation. For that reason, in order to properly address those issues, we must first resolve the economic crisis which affects all those issues. This does not mean that he is preparing to abandon his commitment to social conservatives. It just means that he is willing to focus on our greatest problems first and it demonstrates that he has the ability to expand his appeal to enough voters to make it possible for a conservative agenda to be considered and advanced.

The most recent attack upon Daniels stems from a statement in which he told a progressive Republican group that we should avoid the use of wedge issues. This has ed those like Jennifer Rubin and Mark Levin to claim that Mitch Daniels is calling upon the G.O.P. to capitulate and allow the left to set the agenda. Such an interpretation is an indication that Mitch Daniels’ political instincts surpass them and that his larger point went over their heads.  Daniels desire to avoid the �insincerity of taking issues and using them as a “wedge” in the support base of one political group is sign that he realizes people are seeing right through.   We just went through an election cycle dominated by a TEA Party movement that did not want politics-as-usual and punished those who practiced it.  Ad on this count, again Mitch Daniels is right. His statement was not a sign of capitulation, it was an indication of his awareness of the fact that Americans are tired of the political games played by our political leaders.

Ultimately, Mitch Daniels is doing what every other potential Republican candidate for President is doing and exactly what every Tea Party enthusiast and struggling American family is doing and wants our leaders to actively address. Mitch Daniels is focusing on that which is of most immediate importance to us, the American economy which is in a state of precariously slow growth, coupled with a crisis of crushing national debt that is threatening our future. These are the issues which will win or lose the election for us. Despite all the harsh and unwarranted criticism from some social conservatives, all that Mitch Daniels is guilty of is having the sense to know that rising prices, fewer jobs, less income, fewer opportunities, the strangulation of over-regulation, and a federal government that is addicted to government programs and spending, is tearing American life apart and needs to be addressed first and foremost.

Daniels ability to realize that and his commitment to prioritizing it as job number one, needs to be appreciated, not shunned. And Daniels’  proven social conservative record should be understood by rational conservatives. It should earn him respect for his ability to successfully advance those issues dearest to movement conservatives, by speaking softly while carrying a big legislative pen that has brought to Indiana, the type of leadership they wish to see for our nation.

In the final analysis, Daniels’  louder  than words record on social conservative priorities is, beyond a shadow of any doubt, evidence of a strong cmmitment to the traditional values that the G.O.P. is supposed to represent. The fact that he has not turned his moral values into a national evangelical tour may not please some, but many of these same people still have more of a problem with Mitt Romney being a Mormon than they do with his Massachusetts healthcare plan. Such misplaced priorities and obvious lapses of judgment do not help us. They hurts us. However; Mitch Daniels has proven that he has the judgment to get the job done, both on those social conservative issues important to us and the fiscal issues that are also important to us and pivotal to winning the general election.

As for myself, I am not yet prepared to endorse Mitch Daniels for President. In addition to the fact that he is not yet even a candidate for President, I want the nomination process to be used to test our eventual nominee. And while I personally believe that Mitch Daniels is worthy of the nomination, I need him to prove himself worthy through the primary and caucus election process. What I don’t want though, is for him to be unfairly handicapped because he is not willing to play the role of Pope in a political process meant to elect a President.

As for those who unfairly attack Mitch Daniels, maybe it is time for them to reexamine their own words instead of trying to twist Mitch Daniels’ words. In February of 2007, Jennifer Rubin, one of Daniels’ harshest critics of late wrote the following regarding the 2008 Republican presidential field

“in 2008 we should reward the candidate who has the courage and introspection to grow and improve and not just play defense, point to the other guy’s or gal’s weaknesses, and say  I’m the best of the lot. Then we’d have an imperfect, but deserving winner.” – Human Events, 2/21/07

Rubin’s statement was right back then and is still right today. So perhaps it is time for her to take her own advice and reward Mitch Daniels for having the courage   to make the conservative movement which he is a champion of, aware of the need for the type of self-examination  they need in order to establish exactly how they intend to make a case to the American people that can defeat President Obama in 2012.

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