Posts Tagged ‘Mitch Daniels’

The other day on Fox’s 12 in 2012 series, I heard Jim DeMint make an interesting argument.  When asked how he felt about Mitch Daniels’ suggestion that conservatives “declare a truce on social issues,” DeMint said the following:

You can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.  A large part of the expansive government is to take…make up for a dysfunctional society because our culture’s falling apart…the family’s falling apart.

I’m not sure I agree with DeMint with regard to all social issues.  For example, I fail to see how supporting homosexual civil unions is connected to the expansive growth of government.  On others (e.g., abortion) I think he could make a strong argument.  I’m curious what you think about “the DeMint Doctrine.”

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Hoosier Next President?

Posted: November 7, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

In the wake of Tuesday’s landslide for Republicans, one underreported story was the virtually unprecedented number of statehouse legislatures the GOP took over.  Redistricting is sure to make all of these gains vitally important, but perhaps none can so much affect the 2012 GOP nomination as the conquest of the Indiana state legislature.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has been talked about quite a bit as a potential 2012 contender.  (Nevermind that the Governor has said he has no intention of running for anything again.)  The removal of Democratic legislative opponents clears the way for Daniels to end his already successful governorship (he currently enjoys something like 69% approval) on a crescendo of accomplishment.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Daniels is preparing to push through fiscal conservative measures such as merit pay for teachers, making it easier to target and fire bad teachers, charter and virtual schools, and the elimination of executive-order collective bargaining without legislative approval.

Yet Daniels, should he ultimately choose to run, could be dogged by a number of questions regarding his “fit” with the GOP.  In the first place, the previously cited Star article notes the Governor wants to centralize various state government structures and consolidate some school systems, all in the name (one presumes) of efficiency and budget-consciousness.

Regrettably, Daniels has been rather impolitic recently regarding some issues near and dear to the conservative base.  First was his opining that the GOP ought to declare a “truce” on social issues.  Second–and perhaps even more damning–was his weigh-in on the results of the historic GOP mid-terms.  He told the Hill that the GOP, “didn’t turn up the strongest Senate candidates.”  No matter how tired the public has grown of Obama by 2012, I still find it difficult to believe that any candidate can win a general election by alienating his/her own base.  (Remember John McCain?)  If Daniels can’t unify a divided party, why should anyone expect him to unify a divided country?

Why Daniels felt the need to do this is a bit disturbing.  Initially, I suspected that he was merely trying to curry favor with the Party bosses and elites.  Upon learning more about Mitch, it seems plausible that he was simply exercising his maverick streak and speaking his mind.  In either case, the comments weren’t very savvy for a potential presidential candidate.

Daniels has amply demonstrated his acumen as a chief executive and numbers guy in Indiana.  Even if he chooses not to run in 2012–he recently told Fox News’ Brett Baier that, “[I] never plan to be a candidate for anything again, and have said so over and over”–I would hope any future conservative administration will exert a lot of effort to try and bring Daniels on board in a post like Treasury Secretary.

The latest rumors surrounding Rep. Mike Pence are that he is considering stepping down from his House Leadership position shortly after the mid-term elections in order to prepare for a run at either the presidency or the Indiana governorship.  Politico notes Pence, “he has made a number of high-profile stops all over the country, including most recently in Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

Mike Pence: While some argue Pence would face significant challenges in either race, it seems obvious to me that the hurdles to overcome in a presidential run are far greater than those that would face him in a gubernatorial campaign.  This is not to say, however, that Pence shouldn’t run for President.  I happen to think Pence brings some real strengths to the table.

Primary opponents are likely to argue Pence has no credibility as a fiscal conservative because he took earmarks until 2008.  This is an argument with more emotional than logical appeal.  A lot of people (myself included) who don’t really care for most of the government’s social programs nonetheless take advantage of them because the system has been set up in such a way that we currently cannot make ends meet without them.  This doesn’t mean we can’t be honest proponents for a new and better structuring of the nation’s fiscal house.  Similarly, if the best argument that can be levelled against Pence is that he took some earmarks, that seems pretty weak.  I’d want to know precisely what the nature of the earmarks were.  Was he building bridges to nowhere, or studying the mating habits of turtles…or were these earmarks that went to more productive, job-producing projects?

Furthermore, who else is going to have a stronger fiscal record than Pence? Romney passed proto-Obamacare in Massachusetts…Huckabee practiced a state-level version of Bush’s Big Government Conservatism in Arkansas…Palin was a sometime proponent of the earmarks in Alaska.  In contrast, Pence “led the unsuccessful opposition to Bush’s elephantine Medicare bill.” The only two people with “street cred” greater than Pence on fiscal matters would be Ron Paul and Mitch Daniels, both of whom are likely to have a very difficult time winning the support of the important social conservative base in the Republican Party.

While campaign funding is likely to be one of the early weaknesses of a Pence campaign, he is likely to have an advantage in the critical area of volunteer passion and enthusiasm.  As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, “Pence has come to occupy an unusual niche over the past two years. He’s one of the few Washington political leaders who’s won widespread support among tea party activists.”

While it’s vogue in some circles to argue that Republicans have to surrender ground on social issues in order to win.  (Nevermind that it’s quite an odd strategy to secure victory by completely abandoning your base.)  I tend to think that America has not so much turned against social conservatives as it has turned against fakes and opportunists.  Against people who advocate for (or against) social issues only for political gain.  Pence gives every indication of being a down-the-line conservative who both capable of and willing to fuse the social and fiscal strains of conservatism into one coherent bloc.  Consider these words from his speech at the Values Voter Summit:

Now I know some say that Republicans should stay away from such issues this year…that the American people are focused on jobs and spending and our movement would do well to stand aside, bank the win and return to fight after this fiscal and economic crisis has passed, but we do not live in a world where an American leader can just focus on our financial ledger. A political party that would govern this great nation must be able to handle more than one issue at a time. We must focus on our fiscal crisis and support our troops. We must work to create jobs and protect innocent human life…To those who say we should focus on cutting spending, I say ‘Ok, let’s start by denying all federal funding for abortion at home and abroad! Stop funding research that destroys human embryos in the name of science…We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged. Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life … have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a House divided, America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles…Men and women, we must demand, here and now, that the leaders of the Republican Party stand for life” and to do so without apology.