Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) was recently interviewed by the Hoover Institution's Peter Robinson. The full interview airs Monday, but the released clips are already causing a stir:
Daniels's remarks are troubling for two reasons. First, he has made our fiscal crisis out to be so monumental that nothing else registers as a top priority. Much as Obama insists that international consensus trumps all other foreign policy concerns (e.g. human rights, warm relations with Israel) Daniels insists that our fiscal issues are such a "mortal threat" that, as Obama would do with Israel, everything else gets thrown overboard. It is a strategy that will inevitably give liberals the trump card on a range of important issues, ranging from Supreme Court nominees to abortion funding to missile defense spending.
Second, it is a goofy conception of alliance-building. Daniels says he can't afford to lose one vote on fiscal issues. But why can't he, as all presidents do, forge varied alliances on different issues? Lawmakers understand this and often ally themselves with the White House on one issue but not on others. Many House Blue Dogs, for example, balked on cap-and-trade but gave the president support on Obamacare. This suggests Daniels simply doesn't understand how Congress and the White House operate.
Because he makes no effort whatsoever to mollify his critics -- and indeed shows a propensity to pour salt on the wounds -- you have to wonder whether Daniels is simply not interested in running for president or whether he's clueless about what it will take to win the Republican presidential nomination. In any case, he's doing a bang-up job of diminishing his presidential prospects.