By Brendan Loy
“Mitch Daniels: serious, adult, not a wingnut, and articulating a lot of conservatism’s good ideas without a lot of its bulls**t. PLEASE RUN.”
I wish I’d paid more attention to Governor Mitch Daniels when I was living in Indiana during my time at Notre Dame, but I didn’t really care much about state politics because I knew I wasn’t going to stay. Now, Daniels has emerged on the national stage, and looks to me like, by far, the best substantive choice in the potential Republican presidential field. I need to learn a lot more about him. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything. But I really hope he runs.
Tonight, Daniels spoke at the conservative convention CPAC. (Insanely, I can’t embed their video of his speech. Huge, huge New Media #FAIL.) He focused almost exclusively on the looming debt crisis, which he likened to an enemy invading our shores, an existential threat that we must all unite in order to defeat. He called red ink the “new red menace.” As I said, I don’t agree with every word in his speech, but there’s plenty to like, including:
Lost to history is the fact that, in my OMB assignment, I was the first loud critic of Congressional earmarks. I was also the first to get absolutely nowhere in reducing them: first to rail and first to fail. They are a pernicious practice and should be stopped. But, in the cause of national solvency, they are a trifle. Talking much more about them, or “waste, fraud, and abuse,” trivializes what needs to be done, and misleads our fellow citizens to believe that easy answers are available to us. In this room, we all know how hard the answers are, how much change is required.
He went on to add — speaking at a conference of conservatives and Republicans, remember — that even defense spending must be on the table. (!!) Oh, and did I mention he called for means-testing Social Security?
And then, a bit later, these points:
We must display a heart for every American, and a special passion for those still on the first rung of life’s ladder. Upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise, and the stagnation of the middle class is in fact becoming a problem, on any fair reading of the facts. Our main task is not to see that people of great wealth add to it, but that those without much money have a greater chance to earn some. …
We should distinguish carefully skepticism about Big Government from contempt for all government. After all, it is a new government we hope to form, a government we will ask our fellow citizens to trust to make huge changes. …