We've written here before about Mitch Daniels' sterling, nearly unimpeachable record as governor of Indiana. In a time of fiscal crisis, Daniels is cementing himself as the party's chief fiscal hawk.
A few days ago, Daniels traveled to Manhattan to meet with a swath of journalists from across the political spectrum. Among those participating were former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, whom I adore, and the National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru.
This certainly jarred Red State's Erick Erickson.
Surrounded by people across the spectrum, the liberals seemed to like him better than any of the other Republican candidates out there. Well, there you go.
This is incomprehensibly stupid. Because a liberal like Hendrik Hertzberg happened to like Daniels personally, that must mean Daniels is a liberal. It's been fascinating to watch the bottom layer of the right-wing noise machine -- Erickson, Levin, Limbaugh -- criticize Daniels as insufficiently conservative simply because he doesn't make outlandish statements or engage in partisan demagoguery. Never mind his record, which indicates that he would govern as the most conservative president since Ronald Reagan. We -- and others -- have seen enough of Daniels to know that he simply isn't a name-calling bomb-thrower. (Watch this episode of MitchTV for a glimpse of the man.) Liberals no doubt like him because of his calm, easygoing manner, much like Republicans are fond of the arch-liberal Joe Lieberman because he similarly doesn't engage in hyperpartisan sabre-rattling. Does Erickson really think that Daniels is a closet liberal? He should check out what Democrats in Indiana think.
But more so, when asked who he’d call at 3 a.m. for foreign policy advice, given the choice between John McCain and Dick Lugar, he went with Lugar. I don’t think I need to remind you that, as Jenn ably notes, Lugar “has run interference for President Obama on foreign policy issues such as START.”
Apparently securing loose nuclear material in a state that has a robust trading partnership with Iran is not a high priority for Erickson. Listening to President Reagan's national security team apparently isn't, either.
The title of Erickson's post? Mitch Daniels: The Anti-Tea Party Candidate
I'm not sure what the tea party has anything to do with Daniels' sit down with Noonan, et al., but if Erickson wants to engage on this topic, I'm glad to. Daniels outlawed all collective bargaining by all public-sector employees on his first day in office. He balanced the budget, paid off all Indiana's outstanding debts and restored its long-lost AAA bond rating, all without raising taxes. He has, almost singlehandedly, transformed his state into the best business climate in the Midwest. At CPAC this year, he referred to our mounting national debt as "the new red menace." So what about any of that indicates to Erickson that Daniels is "anti-tea party"? These are precisely the concerns around which the tea party has coalesced. What Erickson and other self-appointed opinion leaders apparently long for is a Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee, whose records demonstrate little to no adherence to conservative principles, and who are forced to resort to demagoguery and name-calling to make up for their laughable records. "Conservatives" like Erickson really don't care about actual conservative governance, hence the relentless apologies for George W. Bush's big-government statism, the adoration of Sarah Palin and her non-existent record, and the overwhelming disdain for people, like Daniels, who have a thoughtful, educated mind.
Erickson and his ilk followed Bush over a cliff, and three years later, all they seem to care about is plummeting toward the bottom as fast as possible.