Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence: The Technocrat and the Intrepid Ideological Conservative

Any conservative who is flirting with the idea of supporting Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels for President should read this Politico puff piece on the potential presidential aspirant.  Jonathan Martin of Politico, in a piece titled, “Mitch Daniels: Heartthrob of the Elites”, cites elitist columnists and publications that heap praise upon Mitch Daniels for his “gold-plated resume”.  After discerning the type of pundits who admire Mitch Daniels, I am more certain than ever that he is not the man with the temerity, grit, or passion to battle the left.  Here is the opening of the article:

If pundits and columnists represented the GOP base, Mitch Daniels would be the odds-on favorite for the presidential nomination in 2012.

The Indiana governor has been showered with favorable coverage from political thinkers and analysts in recent months, most of which heaped praise on his thoughtful and principled approach to governing while celebrating his serious yet down-to-earth mien.

“Of all the Republicans talking about the deficit these days, Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, has arguably the most credibility,” claimed The New York Times’ David Leonhardt in an Indianapolis-datelined economics column recently. (emphasis added)

If these supercilious politicos hold Daniels in such high regard, I can’t imagine any supposition that he would serve as the conservative warrior to lead our nation back to constitutional government.  Perhaps it is his perfect resume, which titillates David Broder, that assures the political elite not be leery of Daniels.  As Jonathan Martin continues,

As David Broder wrote last fall: “[H]is record of accomplishment is dazzling.”

He went to all the right schools (Bachelors, with honors, at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and a law degree, with honors, from Georgetown), learned at the knee of a political Wise Man (veteran Sen. Richard Lugar) headed up a think tank (Hudson Institute), was a top executive at a Fortune 500 company (Eli Lilly), and for two terms has been a governor, where, as the mandarins’ formulation goes, all the real policy innovations take place.

I’ll let that paragraph speak for itself.  Next, he cites a quote from George Will regarding an interview Daniels had with the Economist.

“He is a Republican who had never heard of 9/12, Glenn Beck’s tea-party group, before The Economist mentioned it to him.”

Citing his gold-plated resume, The Economist observed that in each of his jobs Daniels “brought a decidedly dorky passion: a reverence for restraint and efficacy.”

The article closes by quoting acclamatory statements from such ‘impeccable conservatives’ as Charles Krauthammer and Weekly Standard writers.

This article usefully accentuates a salient question for conservatives to ponder regarding Mitch Daniels in particular and the entire presidential field in general.  Are we looking for someone who is an effective manager, technocrat, ‘Mr. Fix It’, with a quasi-conservative predisposition?  Or, are we looking for a passionate ideologically galvanized conservative leader who understands the political battles that confront him/her and will not compromise those values for the sake of “fixing problems” and “getting things done”?

There is a gargantuan difference between the two prototypes.  The conservative technocrat is a problem solver, or manager first, a conservative second.  He will be willing to compromise on “bi-partisan” solutions for the sake of fixing a problem.

Consequently, someone like Daniels advocates the perpetuation, entrenchment, and exacerbation of the current unconstitutional Social Security system by requiring workers to retire later in order to receive their hard earned money.  Raising the retirement age or income exemption limit might be a prudent way of temporarily fixing the entitlement apocalypse (until they squander the money again).  Unfortunately, it does nothing to advance liberty, prosperity, and constitutional government.  In fact, it grants the left an interminable opportunity to control the very destiny of the American worker while leaving billions of dollars out of the economy.  In other words, the Social Security quandary is not a technocratic budget enigma that merely requires a steady-handed manager to achieve its solvency.  It is a a core problem with the role of government that can only be solved by a committed constitutional conservative.

The same technocratic predilection that motivates Governor Daniels to advocate his version of Social Security reform, had led a similar politician and presidential aspirant, Mitt Romney, to implement Romney Care in Massachusetts with alacrity.  Romney always speaks rapturously about his success in bringing together the preeminent health care experts in Massachusetts to solve the problems with health insurance.  Well, he “fixed the problem” by implementing an individual mandate that is as flagrantly unconstitutional as that of Obama Care.  If we elect a Republican whose desire to problem solve overshadows his conservatism, we will be confronted with unpredictable and inadmissible policy solutions.

These politicians are cut from the same cloth as those who gave us TARP and the Obama “tax deal”.  They are also the same ones who will demand we raise the debt ceiling.  After all, they must protect us from impending doom by harnessing their mature, steady-handed managerial skills to implement bi-partisan solutions.

What Republican technocrats lack in terms of conservative public policy convictions pails in comparison to their paucity of political savvy.  Any conservative must understand that we are locked in an implacable political war with the truculent progressives for the future of our country.  They will stop at nothing in their inexorable pursuit of socialism and moral decadence.  The degree to which we cede ground to them in the realm of public policy, will directly determine the extent of their success in achieving their unsavory goals.  Therefore, if a conservative lacks the moxie to lead the fight against the left due to his desire to ‘rise above the bickering’, he will inevitably surrender ideas to the left.  This is where Daniels’s political philosophy has led him to call for a “truce” on social issues and “get along for a little while”.

Mitch Daniels’s lack of political tenacity regarding that comment is more disturbing than the substance of the comment itself.  His remarks reveal that he has no understanding of the ferocity to which the left is actively seeking to impose their immorality on this country.  There is no truce with the left.  Once we pulled out our so-con (social conservative) forces, the vacuum was immediately filled by the so-libs.  They never agreed to a truce, and never will.

In fact, while we have backed down on social issues, they have made historic gains through the repeal of DADT and the nullification of state constitutional bans on gay marriage.  They are actively seeking to introduce sexuality lessons into elementary school curriculum.  Even the Republican Senate leader in my home state Maryland is so obsequious to Democrats that he plans to introduce a bill sanctioning civil unions.  The reality is that the left has no desire to get along with us as they seek to dominate every facet of our culture.  If we consign those like Daniels with the leadership of our party, there won’t be any battles to fight anymore because the left would automatically win by default of consensus.

An important, yet often overlooked attribute of Ronald Reagan, was his sagacious insight into liberalism as well as conservative philosophy.  Some of his most famous quips reveal a deep understanding of the malice intent of liberals and the battle that we must wage in order to defeat them.  Here are just a few:

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

“Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.”

“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.”

“The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being.”

“the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn’t so.”

To borrow an expression from Rush, any successful conservative leader must know liberals like every inch of his back.  If he fails to comprehend the grand scheme of liberalism, he is doomed to become ensnared in their traps and indolently surrender the field of politics and culture to the left.  Ronald Reagan clearly understood the profundity and magnitude of the political war with the left.  George W. Bush clearly did not.  It’s doubtful that Mitch Daniels fully comprehends the fractious intent of the left to the extent that Reagan did.  Then again, those who adore Mitch Daniels will demand that we blithely forsake that Reagan nostalgia.

Undoubtedly, there are many fine attributes to Governor Mitch Daniels.  For the most part, he has had a very successful tenure as Governor of Indiana.  His solid managerial skills, intelligence, and mature demeanor would definitely be indispensable for any future President.  However, a person with those attributes who lacks the pertinacious conservative conviction is analogous to a luxury car without fuel.  Or, in political terms, we might think of someone like Dick Lugar.

There are some conservatives who are looking for someone in the ideological mold of Sarah Palin or Michele Bachman but without the ‘polarizing’ temperament.  For those who are in search of such a candidate, Mike Pence is their man; not Mitch Daniels.  Pence often describes himself as “a Christian, a Conservative and a Republican, in that order”.  It was his social values and conservatism that imbued him with the intransigence to vote against No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drugs, TARP, and the Obama tax/unemployment deal.  His conservative values trumped the desire to strike a bi-partisan solution to solve problems created by Democrats.  And yes, not only has he heard of the 9/12 rally, he was the only elected official to address that gathering.

There is no doubt that in light of the destruction a century of progressivism has wrought on our nation, we will need an innovative and effective problem solver.  In the wake of Obama’s assault on our prosperity, liberty, values, borders, and national security, even the most skilled and accomplished manager would find it an arduous task to heal our nation’s standing in just four years’ time.  However, it is imperative for our eventual nominee to solve the right problems and advocate the right solutions.  It is also requisite that our leader be skilled and intrepid in political battle in order to thwart the left from their natural success.  The Republican who “rises above partisan rabble” will inevitably lose to the Democrats, who thrive and persevere through visceral partisanship.  After all, what good is a conservative Mr. Fix It if he can never overcome the Democrats and achieve the opportunity to dazzle us with his brilliance in office?

Cross-posted to Red Meat Conservative