Two Views of Mitch Daniels and the Social Truce

From the Chicago Daily Observer

From Tom Roeser

Up to now, I’ve been lavish in my praise for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels for four reasons: : (a) excellent experience as a federal budget director where he became known as Mitch the Blade for cutting fat—and taking maximum heat from the Congress for his courage in cutting…(b) as Indiana governor for transforming the state from deficit to surplus and implementing other reforms that were considered untouchable…dropping out-of-date rulings that are nevertheless cherished, such as the checkerboard pattern of time zones (Standard, Daylight Savings) throughout the state…and (c) superb experience as a business executive at Eli Lilly where I first met him. Oh and (d)…the fact that he is not burdened with phony “charisma” but is unassuming, a balding, rather smallish (5 foot 7) intellectual with loads of private sector as public sector experience. All that plus having been to-date certifiably good on social issues and a believing Christian, longtime membership as an evangelical parishioner.

I said he strikes me as being the best in a long line of excellent candidates for the Republican nomination and suggested he run with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as vice president. I went to hear him at the Union League Club here not long ago and was highly impressed with his understated, well-informed comments on public affairs. I came away saying Daniels could well be the class of the lot.

That was THEN. Last week he made a considered statement that shows either his cynicism or overwhelming naivete. But it was not a gaffe: it was well-considered.

In an interview with The Weekly Standard which definitely did not harpoon him…and in fact seems to strongly favor him for president…Daniels said it is time for a moratorium on debate concerning social issues…urging a “time out”…while the country concentrates on repairing the economy. That’s like saying it’s time to put Judeo-Christian values on hold for a bit until we figure out a course to balance the budget, what to do about Iran, what to do about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

My question is: how do you put values “on hold” in the presidency? In fact, how do you put any issues on hold—cultural, social, economic, defense? I’m sure Obama would just as soon put the Gulf oil spill on hold…but he cannot. What exactly does Daniels mean? Does he think the Left would put social issues on “hold”? Does he think the Left would relax pushing abortion or gay-rights because it didn’t want to take attention away from fixing the economy? You bet it wouldn’t.

Does it mean that if he became president and there was a drive to repeal and reform ObamaCare he’d skip its circuitous federal funding for abortion because it would be too divisive for the country? Does it mean that if legislation is introduced to okay legalized suicide (with proper counseling of course) he as president would take no stand?

When an opening for the Supreme Court comes up, would he skip consideration of life issues? Would Mitch even ask him/her about life issues? Would he as president continue Obama’s defiantly pro-abortion support of our assistance for the practice vis-à-vis international organizations? Meaning, keeping this country defiantly pro-abortion has it has become under Obama?

In the interest of national unity, would he interfere with Obama’s ruling regarding these international commitments and risk distracting the country from its major concerns which are economic? The economic excesses stem in major part from an illness that is at once philosophical-theological-psychological.

If, let us say, he were to become president would he take no stand on abortions being performed at military hospitals as is proposed under the Burris amendment…saying: the country’s economy is paramount right now; we can’t risk a debate about that? If he had the chance to either oppose or repeal a ban on don’t ask, don’t tell for the military would he say “the country has too many more important things on its plate, such as the economy and an appointment to the Fed”?

In other words, this presumed candidate for the presidency, is advocating a VALUE-NEUTRAL stance on social issues.

Sorry, Mitch. In the presidency, you can’t shift values into neutral. Gee whiz, I had thought with all your experience you’re smart enough to know that. Your statement delivered via The Weekly Standard comes right from the country-club. That’s the attitude that lost for Republicans time and time again.

I’m willing enough to give you a chance to re-state it but even if or when you do, I’m very dubious. Anyhow, listen: I’m glad you let me in on your thinking now before I contributed any dough…as I was likely to do…and expended some hours working in your behalf. Anyhow, the best of luck in Indiana and all—and very glad you let us in on your thinking. Your wife has been quoted as saying she’s unalterably opposed to your running for president. Maybe she’ll win this tussle. I sure hope so. Frankly, if you believe issues can be segregated…any issues…and held in abeyance in the presidency you’re not as smart as I had thought.

In a sense I’m glad, Mitch, you’ve got the character to declare where you stand on the lack of importance of social issues which saves me and some others the trouble of learning about this down the road.

Understand I’ll support anybody against Obama including you, Mitch if it comes down to it…but I plainly don’t want a value-neutral president even if he belongs to my party.

So for now…until there’s another shock-wave…I’ve decided to support someone who has the clarity of expression and expertise with governing so as not to be misunderstood. When I caught Mike Huckabee at the Illinois Family Institute almost a year ago, I was powerfully impressed with his great communications skills. That stuff about him pardoning too many people can be answered—as he had. Going with him is better than sticking with somebody who says there ought to be a moratorium on issues that are of major significance.

That means for me, I’m for the country boy. We have a long time to decide yet but I want to go with somebody who calls it straight. Huckabee has been a governor and has improved mightily since he ran last time with his show on Fox. And no I’m not scandalized that he pardoned probably too many people as governor…nor that he could be a dispensationalist. Ronald Reagan was called a dispensationalist in 1976 when he ran for president and in 1980. After that, the issue was dead on arrival.

As far as everybody else is concerned, I have an open mind. Palin has gotten much better. Pawlenty looks good. Romney shaky in the consistency department but let’s say okay. Bobby Jindal? He looks like an advance man for a famine but he’s okay. I’ve already talked about Mitch Daniels.

But let it be said I’ve irrevocably written Ron Paul off the list—forever. He may be pro-life but his foreign-defense policies…i.e. abolishing all intelligence agencies…is definitely applying the cult of the Amish…horse-and-buggy, men with Junior Gilliam overalls and Alexander Graham Bell beards, women with head-shawls and long dresses covered by gingham aprons…to modern society—which goes for his longed-for abolition of the Fed and its replacement by the Congress (a necessary audit, yes; cutback of power, yes).


From John Powers

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has a rather unique position during this lingering economic downturn: he is a success. Despite an unemployment rate similar to it’s neighbors, Indiana boasts of a healthy balance sheet.

No other state in the Midwest—all of them, like Indiana, dependent on a declining manufacturing sector—can match this record. Venture capital investment in Indiana had lagged at $39 million annually in the first years of this decade. By 2009 it was averaging $94 million. Even now the state has continued to add jobs—7 percent of new U.S. employment has been in Indiana this year, a state with 2 percent of the country’s population. For the first time in 40 years more people are moving into the state than leaving it. Indiana earned its first triple-A bond rating from Standard and Poor’s in 2008; the other two major bond rating agencies concurred in April 2010, making it one of only nine states with this distinction, and one of only two in the Midwest.

Good for Mitch Daniels. He fixed something which is considered impossible in Illinois. However in the Weekly Standard, Gov. Daniels suggested a truce on social issues, which inevitably was rejected by social conservatives, including our own Tom Roeser.

I’ll take a different angle on this one. A truce would be a massive improvement for a movement in full retreat. The momentum is all on the wrong side right now. Why not stop, take a deep breath, and regroup? Our current President has said that his #1 priority in office would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act repealing any restriction on abortion. Isn’t there any Democrat or Republican with a more rational set of priorities than Barack Obama? We have the most pro-abortion President in our history, along with the most pro-abortion Congress. Why not put a halt to the expansion of their authority before they go any further?

Regardless of who occupies the White House, does any social conservative actually think that adultery (in any of its various forms), for example, would come to a halt by political means? Will more laws really have much of an effect on many of the social concerns which are recognized by traditional conservatives (myself included) as sinful?

Too many times, laws are a first resort, rather than last resort to resolving an issue. We are facing a financial crisis that requires some prioritization of lawmakers responsibility. Sin will always be with us as humans, regardless of laws and regulations. While faith and prayer have definite primary effects on the human condition, the effect of prayer on bank regulation, for example, is secondary at best. Politicians, such as Mitch Daniels, who have shown professionalism in policy making, are taking what may be a higher calling by tackling issues such as financial reform that are vexing our country.

Politics is always an exercise in moral relativism. Ideologues, such as President Obama, have shown over and over that they are putting political dogma ahead of economic reality.  A President Daniels will be faced with Judicial appointments, executive orders and other authoritative tasks where a truce is impossible, which is exactly the reason why a professional like Mitch Daniels is needed.  The social situation is manageable during a truce, just like the financial situation is manageable during a recession.


Tom Roeser is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer

John Powers is the President of the Chicago Daily Observer



  • Matt Bowman

    Thanks John–either 1.2 million yearly abortions will continue to be performed, or they will stop. Perhaps by “truce” he meant stopping them. Or perhaps he meant reducing them (by how much, how quickly, and how would that number be set?). I don’t think anyone would hear it as any specific and significant reduction, since the abortion performers aren’t even slightly willing to stop.

  • ND66

    It appears that Mitch Daniels’ “truce” has ended. He gave a full-throated endorsement of the Mexico City Policy this week.

    The Culture War is back on! Battle stations!

    But can Daniels still be trusted to carry the flag?

  • John Powers

    Well Matt, that is how I interpreted this. Truce would apply to both sides, which is how Daniels expanded on it as well.


  • Matt Bowman

    I agree we should have a truce on social issues: shut down all abortion centers and withdraw all proposals to pass same-sex “marriage”, and the pro-life pro-marriage side will cease their active efforts too so we all can come to the table.

    Or by “truce” did he mean that one side wins and the other shuts up? Hmmm.



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