Return of the Daniels Delusion

So there’s a new website collecting signatures to urge Mitch Daniels to throw his hat into the presidential ring.

Er, why?

This is the guy who 1) issued an idiotic call for a delusional, undefined “truce” on social issues; 2) wasn’t exactly a fiscal crusader either as Bush’s OMB director or as Governor of Indiana; 3) caved on Right to Work in Indiana; 4) pushed an ObamaCare-stylestate health plan of his own; 5) came out against an Arizona-style immigration law, and advocated dropping the “law enforcement provisions that have been the ones that have bothered most people”; and supports 6) a value-added tax, 7) a tax on imported oil, and 8) risky defense cuts. 
So please, explain to me what void in the current field Mitch Daniels fills? What qualities does he bring to the table that make him particularly well-suited to either defeat Barack Obama or be a particularly effective president?
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New on American Thinker – There’s No Reason Libertarians and Gay Conservatives Can’t Support Michele Bachmann

My latest American Thinker post:
Whenever conservative candidates demonstrate their electoral viability, sensationalistic denunciations of said conservatives as beyond the pale are sure to follow. Last weekend, Michael Smerconish declared that Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN) has “lost a young conservative” named Ben Haney by signing the Iowa Family Leader’s Marriage Vow, which suggests homosexuality is a choice. And that’s not all:
In 2004, at the National Education Leadership Conference, you said of the gay lifestyle: “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It’s anything but gay.”
Then there’s your husband, Marcus, who obtained his Ph.D. by virtue of a correspondence course. He runs a mental-health clinic but, according to Politico, is not registered with any of the three state boards that certify mental health practitioners. (Minnesota is one of the only states in which you can practice mental health without a license.) Last year, when asked during a radio interview about parenting homosexual children, he said:
“We have to understand: barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature. We have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings from moving into the action steps. . .”
Marcus Bachmann has denied that his clinic engages in attempts to “pray away the gay,” but ABC’s Nightline recently aired an interview with a man who said that, at age 17, he sought help from Bachmann & Associates and: ” path for my therapy would be to read the Bible, pray to God that I would no longer be gay.”
First, some fact checking: According to the Minneapolis StarTribune, both Marcus Bachmann and interviewer Penna Dexter say the “barbarian” quote referred to children, not gays: “We believe that children are born with a nature that inclines them to challenge and break rules, and that it is thus the parents’ responsibility to guide their children along good and productive paths.” Further, Dr. Bachmann hasn’t denied that he advises gays to pray for sexual conversions; he simply clarifies that it’s “not a special interest of the business and would only be attempted at the client’s request.” However foolish or distasteful gays find such services, let’s keep in mind that they don’t affect anyone who doesn’t choose to utilize them.
As for the “is homosexuality a choice?” debate, I’ve mostly ignored it since it’s irrelevant to public policy—gay Americans would still deserve equal protection of their natural and political rights even if homosexuality was 100% optional, and there would still be powerful reasons to resist the redefinition of marriage even if everyone agreed that sexual orientation was set in stone from conception onward. That said, I suspect homosexuality is substantially predetermined because, as Haney says, “If you could simply choose who you were sexually attracted to, wouldn’t you choose the path of least resistance?”

New on NewsReal – "Extreme" Jan Brewer Vetoes a Handful of "Right-Wing" Bills. What’s She Up To?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

We’re all used to the zeal with which leftists conjure ugly smears of conservatives, but when conservatives prove the stereotype wrong, it takes serious chutzpa to then make a controversy out of that. Such is the spectacle on display in Terry Greene Sterling’s latest Daily Beast report, which tries to make sense out of recent decisions by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer which don’t exactly fit the MO of a right-wing extremist:

A year ago, incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer was trailing her Democratic rival Terry Goddard in the Arizona gubernatorial race. Then Brewer signed SB 1070, the state’s notorious immigration law, and further pandered to her Republican Tea Party base by touting her proud membership in the NRA, labeling unauthorized migrants drug mules, and scaring the daylights out of Arizonans with false tales of “beheadings” in the desert. Despite an agonizingly embarrassing senior moment in televised pre-election debates, Brewer rode a wave of conservative sentiment into the governor’s office, and achieved iconic status among her supporters.

(Since you bring it up, our friends at NewsBusters actually did find confirmation that at least one immigration-related beheading took place. But I digress.)

A year later, incredibly, that iconic status hasn’t diminished, even though Brewer, 66, appears to be changing her political stripes. She reversed a cold-hearted decision to deprive poor people of state-funded transplants in Arizona (after three patients on the transplant list died) and stunned Arizonans on Monday when she vetoed two Tea Party pet measures that had sailed through the state house. Her apparent tick toward the right-of-center comes on the heels of a highly successful Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry campaign to kill five proposed state immigration laws that Brewer likely would have supported a year ago.

In her sudden about-face, Brewer axed a “birther” bill that required federal and state candidates to submit to the Arizona secretary of state a “circumcision certificate” or a “baptismal” certificate absent a “long form” birth certificate. In a letter to House Speaker Kirk Adams, Brewer implied that the circumcision language was tacky and claimed the bill went “too far” while doing nothing “constructive” for the state. And she told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News that the bill was a “distraction.”

She also vetoed a measure that would allow guns on vaguely defined “public pathways” close to state schools. In a letter to her political ally, Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce, Brewer huffed that the gun measure was “poorly written” and could be construed to mean that people could pack guns on “public pathways” meandering through grammar schools and kindergartens.

“So what gives?” Sterling asks. Why the “shocking” transformation? Why, despite Brewer supposedly having re-invented herself as the second coming of Charlie Crist, aren’t “Tea Party Republicans furious at Brewer?”

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – What Donald Trump’s Popularity Means for the Rest of the 2012 Field

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

Before I sat down to write this article, I pinched myself just to make sure I was awake and today’s subject wasn’t some weird dream. But alas, talking heads on both sides of the political spectrum really are seriously entertaining the possibility of President Donald Trump.

At the Daily Beast, Jim DeFede reports on why several Florida Tea Partiers have said they’re backing the Donald:

“We need a real businessman,” said Linda Kogelman, 63, a retired postal worker. “The lawyers don’t know how to run the country. They bow down to too many people.” Kogelman said no one else in the Republican field excites her.

“There is no one there,” she continued. “Romney is old hat. Newt is old hat. It’s just the same old same old. We need new blood.”

Her husband, Ken, 64, who closed his crane business in 2009 because of the downturn in the economy, nodded in agreement.

“They’ve destroyed this country,” he spit. Who?

“The Democrats.”

Standing nearby, 78-year-old Richard Walters was holding on to a letter he had written. He was hoping to be able to hand it to Trump.

“I used to be the Rolls Royce dealer in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach,” said Walters, who is now retired. “And he was one of my customers.”

Fond memories of The Donald?

“I didn’t like him,” Walters said. “He was an arrogant bastard. But I love him now. He is the only person in this country who can right the ship.”

Lest you think DeFede has cherry-picked some outliers to exaggerate Trump’s popularity, note that The Donald has some formidable poll numbers in the Republican primary field (he fares worse, however, in general election match-ups). Among the conservative punditocracy, the reaction is more mixed—Sean Hannity has been giving Trump substantial interview time, while Mark Levin has been intensely critical, and with good reason—Trump has flip-flopped on abortion, healthcare, and his party affiliation, used to be far more favorable to Barack Obama (calling George W. Bush “evil” in the process), and has donated substantially to Democrats.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

The Trump Factor

His naked transformation into a full-spectrum right-winger, sudden professions of religiosity, and weird dive into the fever swamps of Birtherism definitely seem to indicate that Donald Trump’s serious about seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Some are tempted to dismiss him as another Ross Perot, but I think John Ziegler hits the nail on the head as to why his candidacy is resonating with conservative voters:

Trump is now in a position where he could be extremely dangerous. Conservatives are aching for someone with the gonads to take it to Obama and really shake things up in Washington if he happens to win. Many are so fed up that they are willing to jump on almost any bandwagon that even appears to be headed in that direction, even if the driver, like Trump, is totally unreliable.

Despite all the substantive reasons Trump shouldn’t be the nominee, he’s gaining traction because he’s got the presentation – gutsy, bold, aggressive – that the right kind of nominee should have, which puts the rest of the mostly-milquetoast field to shame. Conservatives know that we’re in perilous times, and they’re looking for a leader who seems to get the stakes and doesn’t care whether or not the bad guys say mean things about his tone.
 
If the rest of the nominees are smart, they’ll take notice, and draw the right lesson. But I’m not holding my breath.

Governor Walker, Please Reconsider

Not your policies – on the merits, you’ve been great so far. But I beg you to reconsider what you recently told National Review Online:

Walker, to be sure, has every intention of pursuing all elements of his muscular budget proposal in coming weeks. Yet the key for him, he says, is making Democrats realize that he is not looking to make enemies with them, regardless of how angry they are about the budget-repair bill. “[The budget-repair bill] was not about getting a political victory,” he says. “It was about getting our economy on track. It’s time to move forward.”

This is exactly the wrong way to react to what’s transpired – the lies, the venom, the shameless attempt to grind the democratic process to a halt – over the past month. Above all, any Republican leader who wants to get meaningful results has to recognize one critical truth: regardless of whether or not you’re “looking to make enemies with them,” the Democrats are always looking to make enemies with you. No matter what you do, the Democratic Party is your enemy, because that’s what they’ve chosen to be. They’re operating on a fundamentally incompatible set of first principles and partisan interests. No amount of olive branches or appeasement will soften their ideology or their treachery, but will just result in needless concessions from us and leave our opponents convinced that their tactics work. Failure to recognize this fact always kills Republicans.

Surprise! Gay Republican Lobby Wants Social Conservatives to Shut Up

Last week, Jim DeMint fired a shot on behalf of social conservatism, and this week, gay Republican group GOProud is counterattacking with a press release speaking for “a group of Tea Party leaders and activists”who urge “Republicans in Congress to avoid social issues and focus instead on issues of economic freedom and individual liberty”:

On behalf of limited government conservatives everywhere we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the Tea Party movement.

Poll after poll confirms that the Tea Party’s laser focus on issues of economic freedom and limited government resonated with the American people on Election Day. The Tea Party movement galvanized around a desire to return to constitutional government and against excessive spending, taxation and government intrusion into the lives of the American people.

The Tea Party movement is a non-partisan movement, focused on issues of economic freedom and limited government, and a movement that will be as vigilant with a Republican-controlled Congress as we were with a Democratic-controlled Congress.

This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue, nor should it be interpreted as a political blank check.

But as Joe Carter points out, not only does this letter not speak for the majority of the Tea Party, but its signatories are the ones out of step with the movement:

There are more than 2,300 local Tea Party groups across the nation yet leaders from only 12 of them signed the document […] They don’t seem to realize that they are out of touch with their own “movement.” A recent survey has shown that nearly half (47 percent) of Tea Party supporters consider themselves to be part of the conservative Christian movement. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Tea Partiers say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only eighteen percent support same-sex marriage. Most Tea Partiers are part of the one-legged conservative coalition.

GOProud might not like it, but we belong here every bit as much as (actually, even more than) they do. And you can’t really claim to stand for “individual liberty” if you don’t recognize that human rights begin in the womb.

GOProud and (a tiny sliver of) the Tea Party continue:

Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues. We are disappointed but not surprised by this development. We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.

We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.

The Tea Party movement is not going away and we intend to continue to hold Washington accountable.

The rhetoric about “special interest groups” ought to raise major red flags. It’s clearly meant to demean organizations who take seriously the right to life, protecting marriage, and religious liberty, by defining them as somehow beneath economic issue and motivated by something less pure. But first, that distinction is utterly arbitrary. All organizations involved in “influencing politics and policy on the federal level” (to use GOProud’s self-description) on anything – tax cuts, defense spending, health care, Israel, guns, abortion, marriage, environmental regulations, education, you name it – have an “interest” of some sort, and can just as easily be defined as a “special interest group.” Guess what, GOProud? That means you, too.

Second, labeling something a “special interest” is an old insult that dates all the way back to the writings of the early progressives. It’s meant to suggest that a position is motivated not by political principles or by a desire for the good of the country, but by either selfishness or devotion to something other than the country. Obviously, this isn’t true, for reasons I’ve explained before (and linked above). Disagreeing with GOProud on something doesn’t automatically make our motives impure (nor does it mean their motives are automatically on the level).

And just as obviously, it’s not how allies allegedly committed to the same goals treat each other in a healthy coalition. I’ve long been suspicious of GOProud’s true aims and their value to the Right – and this latest arrogant, dishonest attack on those of us who fully and consistently follow the principles of the American Founding only hurts their credibility further.