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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Expect Mitch Daniels to Run for President

Bookmark and Share Like the countdown to a space shuttle liftoff, the month of April has been ticking down to the launch or aborted missions of several different Republican presidential candidacies. The most notable are Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and soon to be former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr.. Both Daniels and Barbour have promised to make their decision some time by the end of April. Gingrich has recently suggested a similar timeline and Jon Huntsman who cant legally make an announcement while still serving as an Ambassador is likely to make his intentions known shortly after his April 30th resignation takes effect.

I predict that at least three of these men will be declaring their candidacy.

While that is not a bold prediction insofar as Gingrich and Huntsman go, it is a bit of a stretch to be so definitive about Barbour and even more so concerning Mitch Daniels.

As for Huntsman and Gingrich, the secret is out. Gingrich has done little to keep his intentions hush and as soon as Huntsman announced that he was resigning from his post as the nations chief envoy to China, we all pretty much knew that he was going to act on his already stated intention to look at a run for president in 2012. In the case of Barbour, his intentions have been quite clear, but so have his hurdles to a successful run for both the Republican presidential nomination and the presidency itself. His history as a very successful lobbyist, the oozing of some unfair Southern stereotypes, combined with a few early verbal gaffes on race, and his reputation as the ultimate political insider, pose the potential Barbour campaign with some obvious questions that they have had to figure whether or not they can overcome.

In an attempt to do so, Barbour has been lighting up switchboards from California, to Florida and South Carolina, as he tests the waters. He has even politely suggested that potential supporters hold their powder, and their money, until he makes a decision. Given the extent of Barbours effort so far, I tend to believe that he has the fire in the belly that gives one presidential fever, a fever that has to be fed in order for it break. So I expect that hemaysoonannopunce the creation of his presidential exploratory committee. This will be for two purposes. One is to confirm both how much fire really is in his belly and how amenable his wife is to the idea, and two, to see that if it is at all possible for the fire in his belly to be quite enough to win the White House. As for Mitch Daniels, I am going completely out a very shaky limb when I say that he will be running.

Accept for the talk of others, Mitch Daniels has done little if anything to appear like a potential Republican presidential candidate. And while he has taken advantage of a few high-profile speaking engagements, such events are in many ways only natural for a highly successful, two term governor. At the same time, it has been no secret that like Haley Barbours wife, Mitch Daniels wife Cheri is not thrilled by the prospects of having to endure an invasive and inevitably harsh presidential campaign. So there is really very little to support my conclusion that Mitch Daniels will run.

Except for three things.

The lovely Mrs. Cheri Daniels

First is Cheri Daniels. While she is not a fan of the spotlight and is not excited about the possibility of having to join her husband on the presidential campaign trail, in this, Daniels last year as Governor of Indiana, Cheri has agreed to be the main speaker at a Republican State Party dinner. That is not exactly the sign of a spouse preparing to fade in to the obscurity of private life. It sounds to me more like an introduction of both her to the people, and of Cheri to the spotlight.

Another event having me lean more towards a Daniels run, than against it, is the timing of a major speech on education that the Governor is slated to give in Washington, D.C. at the American Institute. This event is five days after the Indiana state legislative session is scheduled to conclude. Daniels has promised to announce his decision regarding the presidency when that sessionis over. It is here that I do not expect Daniels to announce that he is running, but rather the start of either his exploratory committee or the very soon date to come when he will make a similar announcement.

The final reason I have for believing that Mitch Daniels is in fact running for President has to do with his dragging the question out. Mitch Daniels is an understated man. He is not about the drama. He is a nuts and bolts guy and he had nothing to gain by dragging out the possibility of a presidential candidacy. His whole reason for not announcing his interest in running was due to state politics. Daniels did not want the left to accuse the him of advancing policies that were good for his presidential aspirations but bad for the state. And if Governor Daniels would have been able to get rid of that suspicion altogether by announcing that he was not running for President, he would have done that long ago.

There are of course some caveats.

I do not yet sense that Mitch Daniels has the same fire in the belly that his longtime close friend Haley Barbour does. For that reason, I am suspicious of there beingsome friendly teamwork going here. As I described in a previous White House 2012 post entitled Is a Barbour/Daniels Ticket in the Works? , Daniels could become a candidate in order to help divide the vote outside of the South, between himself, Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney. This split would allow Barbour to fare better outside of the South where he does not do so well. It would also help keep Mitt Romney from racking up big numbers. In that scenario, Daniels would eventually drop out of the race and try to swing his delegates over to Haley Barbour.

This may sound too Machiavellian to some but this is the big time. It is politics at the highest level and few know how to play politics better than the ultimate political insider, Haley Barbour. That combined with a well established, longstanding friendship between Barbour, Daniels and their families, makes this not quite as far-fetched as some might be inclined to think.

I for one hope that isnt the case. As someone who in 2008, supported Mitt Romney for President, was a part of the Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President movement, and is currently torn between them Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels and Newt Gingrich, I am looking forward to a genuine battle for my support. I am hoping for a contest that will force the eventual nominee to have to truly earn the nomination and allow us to discover who truly represents our conservative values best, can advance them the most, and is most capable of applying them to the practical application of government. I believe all of the above mentioned names are candidates who can do that. The question is, which one can do all three the best? It is my deepest wish to find that out through a well fought contest, that publicly tests all these skills among all the candidates.

But before that process begins, I expect this final week in April to be slow, in the sense of it being a slow build up to a very busy May.

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Mixed Signals Sent By Mitch Daniels

Bookmark and Share During a recent meeting with the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels made it clear that he really is seriously considering a run for President. In questions fielded by the papers editorial board, Daniels gave answers that at times sounded like he was leaning towards a run.

Daniels made it clear that if he were to run he would base his campaign on what he calls the “red menace” of federal debt. Daniels is also quick to point out that if he does decide to run it would be because in regards to our debt, the country has put itself in a very difficult place.”

But while Governor Daniels made clear that the prospect of a run for the Republican presidential nomination was on the table, he also stated that insofar as the potential GOP presidential field goes, “I like all these folks, and odds are I will likely end up supporting one of them.”

The Indianapolis Star believes that even though Daniels claims that it is likely he will endorse someone else for President, the Governor seemingly does not indicate that there is anyone in the running who can effectively tackle the red menace that he believes we must resolve sooner rather than later. If that is the case, then Daniels surely will run. The question is, if the Indy Star is right, will Daniels continue to think that way? If not, those who are in the running will be hounding him to death for his endorsement of them. And after that, many will be placing him on their short list of possible running mates.

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