The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Democrat Legislators’ Temporary, Small-Scale Secessions


From Wednesday’s Morning Jolt:

The audio of Mitch Daniels, found here, will be a bit of a Rorschach test for conservatives; I suspect a few will see a governor with a set plan to enact education reform pushing aside a separate issue that could poison the well for any bipartisan compromise. And I suspect a lot will see him as just another RINO.

For those whose instinct before today was to dismiss Daniels as just another RINO, I wish you had the chance to sit down and listen to him talk about policy. I recognized from day one my tastes weren’t necessarily going to match that of a majority of Republican primary voters. But to my initial impressions, Daniels seemed, in some ways, to be the perfect anti-Obama. He’s actually run things like the Office of Management and Budget and the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Indiana.

He worked for Reagan as chief political adviser and liaison to state and local officials. He’s worked in the private sector with some significant success at Eli Lilly. He worries about details. He says “we have to means-test the hell out of” entitlements once deemed untouchable. He tells people who he ought to be courting all kinds of things they don’t want to hear. If you consider the Obama-as-messiah hype of 2007-2008 to be a new national low point in serious political discourse, the candidacy of Daniels looks like a big bucket of ice water splashed on the dreamy electorate looking for magic wand solutions.

But when your state’s Democrats decide to throw a tantrum worthy of my toddler and high tail it across the state line like Smokey and the Bandit, you have to call them out on their crap. No constitution, state or national, includes an “I’m taking my bat and my ball and I’m going home” amendment. This is not political discourse or protest or an innovative tactical maneuver. These are refusals to abide by the established rules, laws, customs and traditions of the American political system: small-scale, temporary secessions.

And if you think I’m mad about these stunts, I’d note that the word that best describes many of my readers’ views on them is . . . Qaddaffi-esque.

As mentioned over on Campaign Spot, I thought I understood what Daniels was saying with the “social issue truce” talk; picture the most politically self-destructive synonym for “prioritization” you can imagine. Look, we all know the guy who takes the oath on January 20, 2013 is going to face a stack of problems that will make January 2009 look like the good old days. If the next Republican president manages to avoid Debt Armageddon, restore the economy to low unemployment and real growth, and keep any of the world’s maniacs from killing Americans, I’ll be doing cartwheels. And if we ever reach that economic and foreign policy Nirvana, then we can really put the pedal to the metal on trying to nurse our sick society to something resembling decency and traditional values.

But recent evidence suggests that the Democratic establishment, in Washington, in Madison, in Indianapolis and a slew of other states have reached a point where they cannot be reasoned with. They don’t know where the money will come to fund everything they want. They don’t really care. But they’ll be darned if they’ll let anybody apply the brakes to the gravy train that has been so good to them — er, I’m sorry, the high-speed-rail gravy train that’s been so good to them.

Tags: Democrats , Mitch Daniels , State Legislatures


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