by Yuval Levin
It is very hard to make sense of Mitch Daniels’s continuing restatements of his “truce” notion. They seem to skip over the basic fact that you can’t always just pick your own battles in politics. He could easily add a sentence to these statements along the lines of “but if a fight is forced on us, I would obviously want (or be) a president who stands up for the sanctity of human life and the centrality of the family.”
No one would deny that this is a time when we should be focusing on the grave fiscal problems that confront our country after decades of reckless spending and avoidance of the problems with our entitlement system. Few people are as well suited to lead in such a time as Mitch Daniels. But our political system does more than one thing at a time. Daniels seems to be asserting the priority of the economic and fiscal issues, but should he not acknowledge the continuing existence and importance of the social issues alongside them, and indeed the deep and abiding connection between the two?
When it comes to the social and cultural issues, conservatives understand ourselves to be in a defensive struggle, and people defending themselves against an aggressive opponent are not generally in a position to declare a truce. We can talk about priorities in what is without question a time of fiscal crisis, but why not be clear that we will also continue working to defend innocent life and sustain the moral and social foundations of our society? Daniels’s record on these issues suggests he considers them important, and is not in doubt about where he stands. It wouldn’t hurt to say so.