…When it comes to POTUS 2012.
Between last week’s “Super Tuesday” of off-year primaries and a couple of rumored 2012 hopefuls making a play, there was far more political news than one might normally expect. The analysis of how the major players came out in terms of endorsements, etc. was expected, but what was not was that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels tested the waters with the press – in the form of a Weekly Standard cover story, and a WSJ Op-Ed. I have found this a bit surprising. I grew up in Indiana and it is a bit of a place apart. What plays there just usually does not work in the rest of the nation – and I think the commentary from the rest of the week bears me out.
Ed Morrisey was a bit impressed:
In 2012, it will be all about executive competence, not charisma or soaring rhetoric in service to silly platitudes.
Yeah, but there are others in the hunt that fit that much better and are much better known. Ross Douthat tried to make Daniels and his wife look like the anti-Gores. At “the Atlantic,” Chris Good thought he might be more wet blanket than contender.
But the Weekly Standard piece reveals that Daniels may have missed the essential lesson of the 2008 primary season. While social conservatives, Evangelicals – whatever descriptor you want to use - may not be able to get who they want elected, they sure as heck can stop someone from getting the job. Daniels seems to have great evangelical cred (from the Weekly Standard piece):
Daniels is pro-life himself, and he gets high marks from conservative religious groups in his state. He serves as an elder at the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, in inner-city Indianapolis, which he’s attended for 50 years. In 1998, with a few other couples from Tabernacle and a nearby Baptist congregation, he and his wife founded a “Christ-centered” school, The Oaks Academy, in a downtown neighborhood the local cops called “Dodge City.” It’s flourishing now with 315 mostly poor kids who pursue a classical education: Latin from third grade on, logic in middle school, rhetoric in eighth grade, an emphasis throughout on the treasures of Western Civilization. “It’s the most important thing I’ve ever been involved in,” he told me. His social-conservative credentials are solid.
In fact, I happen to think those are marvelous evangelical credentials if for no other reason than during the adult portion of my life in Indianapolis I was also a member of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, or “Tab” as we liked to call it, and yes, I know Gov. Daniels. But where he blew things was this one:
And then, he says, the next president, whoever he is, “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” until the economic issues are resolved.
Charles Mitchell at EFM said:
But if you’ve watched any of our cultural battles in recent years, you will know this: Even if our side calls a truce, the other side won’t.
Ramesh Ponnuru said:
The condition of the country seemed more parlous in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many people worried that the country was ungovernable. (The fact that we hadn’t had a full two-term presidency in 20 years contributed to this sense.) We seemed to be slipping behind the Soviets both in territory and even morale. We were bewildered about stagflation and going through a deeper recession than the one we have now.
Under the circumstances, it made perfect sense for Ronald Reagan not to make the social issues his top priority. But he neither softened his positions on them nor declared a truce.
The American Conservative was unimpressed. Allahpundit points out that Daniels was hammered by both Tony Perkins and, unsurprisingly actually, Mike Huckabee. (Huckabee, by the way, wants to make sure he does not slip into total anonymity by pointing out he still might run again.) The American Spectator agreed with Ramesh. And David Brody says:
But if Daniels decides to run, some comments he made recently about social issues may come back to haunt him.
Daniels has a lot to offer the nation. Up until this point, I saw him as a very possible Veep candidate, but he just blew that. Given Romney’s problems with the social conservative/Evangelical crowd, he cannot afford to be associated with something like this. This really amounts to little more than a poor choice of words on Daniels part, but it was a very poor choice at precisely the wrong time and on precisely the wrong subject. Daniels put that in a very Hoosier way, and like I said what plays in Indiana often does not play elsewhere. Daniels may yet run, but I have never known a Hoosier that could two-step well enough to get out of a mess like this.
All this, while the other charisma-challenged name, Tim Pawlenty, keeps stroking.
And yes, in that earlier paragraph, I presumptuously assumed Romney as the front runner. That’s because…
…Things Are Looking Up for Romney
Nancy French at EFM has a wonderful anecdote. (Congrats to the Frenches on that new baby!)
Romney himself went to work on Obama in a USAToday op-ed:
Has it come to this again? The president is meeting with his oil spill experts, he crudely tells us, so that he knows “whose ass to kick.” We have become accustomed to his management style — target a scapegoat, assign blame and go on the attack. To win health care legislation, he vilified insurance executives; to escape bankruptcy law for General Motors, he demonized senior lenders; to take the focus from the excesses of government, he castigated business meetings in Las Vegas; and to deflect responsibility for the deepening and lengthening downturn, he blames Wall Street and George W. Bush. But what may make good politics does not make good leadership. And when a crisis is upon us, America wants a leader, not a politician.
That piece garnered him some great coverage. He also won the most recent polling in Iowa. But some people at the paper that ran the poll think the results are “hinky.” There is some interesting analysis of the poll in that, but the absence of Huckabee’s name from the poll does not render the results invalid, it just says a lot about Huckabee – despite his protests registered earlier.
Meanwhile in general religion and politics news…
It seems that once again, the Mormons and the Baptists find they have a lot in common. In this case, both churches find themselves heavily internally divided on the issue of illegal immigration. You know how we talk about the fact that the Founding Fathers left religion on the governmental sidelines so we could unite as a nation. Sometimes a church needs to handle a political issue in the same way. I am wondering if this is not one of those cases.
USAToday ran a brief and relatively uninformative piece of a clash of religious and medical ethics. The piece raises an issue that I think will be one of the most important political/religious issues for the next administration and Congress. There is little doubt that Obamacare will have to be significantly revamped – repeal is a near legislative impossibility, but it will HAVE to be reworked to avoid national insolvency. And while the the fiscal issues associated with that program are horrifying, equally horrifying is the social engineering it enables. The clash of ethics (putting it mildly) and restriction of freedom that will result from a single third party payer system could easily tear the country apart. Watch that space.
Finally, one of my Presbyterian brethren points out how uncivil discourse from the religious Left can be – all in the name of civility.
Lowell adds . . .
We saw an interesting news media development over the weekend, one that raises questions about both MSM bias and the MSM’s double standard when covering itself. Here’s the item, from Mike Allen’s Playbook for last Sunday (all emphasis is in the original):
EDWIN CHEN, Bloomberg White House correspondent and outgoing White House Correspondents’ Association president, announced his resignation from Bloomberg News on Friday, a day after presiding over his final WHCA board meeting. Ed e-mails: “My regret over leaving one of the world’s largest — and certainly the most ambitious — news organizations is offset by a sense of urgency in resuming doing the Lord’s work, particularly after the BP oil spill. That debacle was a divine signal to redouble my efforts to help clean up the environment, help America kick its petroleum addiction, and help public officials find the wisdom and courage to do the right thing to combat climate change before it’s too late. So, I’m returning to the Natural Resources Defense Council (in Washington), soon to be reachable at: EChen(at)nrdc.org.” Ed, an L.A. Times alumnus, starts at NRDC on June 21. His title will be the same as during his previous stint there — “federal communications director” (“media strategery,” he quips). After covering President Bush, Ed went to NRDC from March 2006 to January 2007. “This time is forever,” he vows.
Wow. Where to begin? Mike Allen loves to talk about MSM insiders, of course – read him any day of the week and you’ll see references to birthdays, weddings and new babies for people you’ve never heard of, but who are Allen’s friends. Here we have an uncritical, chirpy report about a guy (Ed Chen) who apparently came straight from the hard-core environmentalist group NRDC to be Bloomberg’s White House correspondent. Now, having passed through the revolving door, he’s back at NRDC.
Doesn’t this job history cause you to raise at least one eyebrow, even slightly? But Mike Allen, a left-of-center journalist himself, seems to think it is just great. This is interesting, but not surprising; listen to Allen when he’s on the Hugh Hewitt show and you will see his political views pretty clearly.
But for this blog’s purposes, I found Chen’s unabashed reference to NRDC as “the Lord’s work” fascinating. Even more interesting is his apparent sincerity: He sees the BP oil spill as “a divine signal to redouble [his] efforts to help clean up the environment.” What if a Fox News reporter had said something similar about returning to his old gig as a PR flack for the National Rifle Association? Do you have any doubt about how that job change would have been portrayed?
A revolving door to liberal causes, and a blind, insight-free double standard for faith talk and expressed religious motivations. An unassisted double play for Mike Allen. Knowing that about Allen, you won’t be surprised about the juxtaposition of these two paragraphs in the June 14 Playbook:
ROMNEY ATTACKS — The Columbian of Vancouver, Wash., via Morning Score: “Delivering the keynote address at the [Washington state GOP] convention, Romney accused Obama of a grievous failure of leadership in dealing with the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. ‘He is totally out of his depth in dealing with a crisis,’ Romney said. Instead of calling on experts from oil companies and academia around the world to help control the spill, he said, Obama ‘hasn’t even met with the president of BP. Instead, he’s trying to figure out who to blame.’”
–“Morning” Joe Scarborough: “No one’s going to be able to play this. … Republicans who blame Obama look genuinely stupid.
Allen seems like a decent, sincere reporter, but I doubt he even notices his own biases.