Let’s get one thing out of the way. I love Mitch Daniels.
When my democrat father-in-law drives around with his “Ditch Mitch” bumper sticker, and my former peers in education (and current ones in law enforcement) moan about the governor’s draconian governing style, I know Mitch is doing something right.
I’ve voted for Mitch Daniels, and would vote for him as president if he were the candidate. He’s a good man. But he’s far, far from my first choice. There are several reasons for this. I don’t want a fiscon, socon, or hawk for president, because such terms imply that the person doesn’t buy into the rest of the conservative agenda. I want a “conservative”. And by looking at Daniels history, we can see that he’s excellent in some areas, but weak to harmful in others. This is why he’s calling for a truce.
Let’s look at a critical area; the courts.
Would Mitch fight tooth and nail for a conservative justice at SCOTUS? Not likely. Let’s look at his record.
The worst way to select judges in a state is by using the Missouri Compromise plan, which was created to allow panels of “experts” (lawyers) to make the picks so that governors could rubber stamp them. In Indiana, our assembly voted 88-3 in the House and 35 to 15 in the Senate to kill this monstrosity. Daniels VETOED it. And then what did Daniels do?
Daniels appointed one of the worst state judges in the country, Steven H. David.
From Carrie Severino:
David is a former chief defense counsel for detainees at Guantanamo Bay who praised the majority opinion in Boumediene v. Bush with this trite quote: “The most important thing that Boumediene held is something that I always thought was obvious … that in America, there are no law-free zones.” Or maybe he could explain why the official Steven David bio released by his office announced the fact that David is a member of the American Judicature Society, the leading institutional proponent of the Missouri Plan, and beneficiary of more than $1 million in contributions from George Soros’s Open Society Institute since 2000. Daniels may well have chosen the least bad option presented to him by the commission, but that cannot excuse him supporting a system that ties the governor’s hands to such an extent that he can only choose the least offensive of three liberal nominees.
It doesn’t end there. Mitch’s (we call him Mitch in Indiana) record on the courts is awful. For more, read the link at the end of this diary.
Those two actions on the courts are enough to convince most reasonable folks that Mitch doesn’t walk the walk on court picks. But how about unions? Public sector unions are the great debate right now, so does Mitch stand with us against waste and abuse by unions? Well, he has a mixed record.
He’s done very well (VERY well) in pushing a bill to limit the collective bargaining powers of the teachers’ union her in Indiana. Union teachers HATE Daniels here. I salute Daniels for that. But we have a major problem on the other hand. A number of republicans are trying to bring a “Right to Work State” bill to the floor, which would cripple unions in Indiana as it as in other states. Not wanting to upset the many facotry workers we have in the state, Daniels and the house speaker are fighting to keep the bill from the floor so it can’t be voted on.
In other words, Daniels is willing to take on one of the public sector unions (teachers) but isn’t willing to take the fight to the private sector unions.
Daniels isn’t the same OMB leader that allowed the drunken spending craze under President Bush. In our state, Daniels has kept our budget balanced and allowed for surpluses. Fiscaly I’m entirely on board. But private businesses could use the union relief if Daniels would act more like Ryan or Christie on these matters.
I’m also a little troubled about the remarks that Daniels has made about rolling back our commitments in the world. Does this mean Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, S. Korea, Taiwan, or somewhere else?
The biggest leaders in conservatism didn’t call for a truce. Reagan fought on all fronts, winning some and losing some. Chris Christi (who is likely not going to run) is known for his fiscal bravery, but wasn’t afraid to slash the funding of Planned Parenthood in his state when the recent child traffic case came to light.
Let me anticipate and deflect one type of criticism before it even gets started. If there is a major fault at Red State, it is that people go ape-poop when someone is critical of a beloved candidate. I’ve highlighted that I love Mitch, and that the things he’s been good on he’s been VERY good on. I’ve voted for him, and will continue to vote for him. If he wins a presidential primary, I’ll support him there too.
What I am writing here is that Mitch is not a perfect candidate (nobody is), and that he needs to embrace conservatism without rejecting the other one or two thirds of the movement. If he did, he would be a shoo-in.
It is always those in the leftist press and democrat strategists who “helpfully” advise republicans to drop their social and defense views. In some local and state races that might play. But at the national level liberals don’t survive. Obama (leftist) plummeting; Bush (tax cuts, war on terror and Supreme Court) two terms; Clinton (moderate, slashed welfare and joined republican in creating surpluses) two terms; Bush H.W. (Strong on defense, lied on taxes, gave us Souter on the court) one term; Reagan (king conservative) two terms; Carter (record failures in foreign policy and econmic policy) one term.
I’m hoping that Mitch will do better than his record suggests on social issues, private unions, and the courts. He’s already proven his worth with the state’s budget. But instead of fixing his past, he has so far decided that we should call for a truce so that his record doesn’t get discussed.
Here’s hoping Mitch ditches the “trucer” label, or that another candidate comes along who can do better.
For an in depth look at several unforced errors by Daniels when it comes to the courts and appointments, see here. (National Review)
For a history on Daniels and remarks about social and defense conservatism, see here. (Weekly Standard)