I have been uneasy from the start with the idea that Mitch Daniels would run for President. To be frank, I think Mitch has been an effective, efficient and good governor for Indiana. He has taken seriously the economic problems of the state, has been out in front of the issues and has protected the state from the very crises now facing several others who have suffered through the profligate spending of less conscientious managers.
In short, Daniels is excellent with a budget.
Beyond that, I have been uncomfortable with the fact that Daniels has never seemed to grasp the reality that economic conservatism is but one plank in the national remedy that we need. His propensity for considering social conservatism a distraction and his relative obliviousness to foreign policy conservatism is alarming for someone angling for a run at the presidency.
In Indiana, this hasn't been a glaring problem because of the irrelevance of foreign policy at the state level and because of the strong conservative backbone of the state. But at the national level, Daniels would have to demonstrate the backbone himself. And even before his ill-advised call for a "truce" on social issues, I've never been confident he has it.
But I would have never thought it would have been on economic policy that Daniels blew his presidential chances. And yet, when faced with the opportunity to stand up to fleeing Democrats, demand they quit obstructing the democratic process and deal with the right to work legislation introduced by Republicans, Daniels took a pass:
Daniels told reporters this afternoon that he expects House Democrats will return to work if the bill dies. It would be unfortunate if other bills are caught up in the turmoil, he said.
He will not send out state police to corral the Democrats, the Republican governor said.
The Democrat minority has (the) right to express its views, he added.
Ralph Alter, writing at The American Thinker, summed up the feeling of stunned conservatives everywhere:
Word to Mitch: the stifling effect of labor unions on the economy is not a social issue.
Daniels' unwillingness to stand on principle on issues important to social conservatives suggested that there might be a weak spot in the former Reagan Budget Director's resume. Daniels earned the sobriquet "Mitch the Knife" for his willingness to stand on economic principle while helping trim the fat out of the federal budget.
Apparently, Daniels now wants to be known as "Mitch the Nice." That won't work for me or any of the conservatives that I know. Now is the time to draw the proverbial line in the sand and act on the mandate provided conservatives in the 2010 mid-term elections. Reigning in union greed must be a top priority.
Sorry Mitch, but it's only taken two weeks in the national public eye to prove that you ain't no Chris Christie or Scott Walker.
I can't say I'm disappointed that Mitch has tubed his own chances. I have appreciated him as Indiana's Governor. But there are far more candidates who are better choices for a country in desperate need of conservative leadership.