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Is the Indiana governor running for president?
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Gov. Daniels said last year, as reported by Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard that to solve the economic problems, “the next president would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues.”
That may make sense, at first: if the country goes broke, a lot of things will have to change. Perhaps the country will have to economize by laying off the Supreme Court.
But even assuming solving the economic problem must come first, how are we going to avoid rafting on Barack Obama’s great rolling river of red-ink all the way to bankruptcy on the rocks of entitlement programs?
Daniels said that Americans “are still a people born for self-governance. They are ready to summon the discipline to… put the future before the present, their children’s interest before their own.” Fine, but putting children’s interest before their own — even getting married and having children — takes character. And the kind of people who have that kind of character tend to be social conservatives.
The governor’s gamble may be that social conservatives know he is one of them; and they may understand that he doesn’t want to scare off those people who are concerned about the economy but are not social conservatives. Perhaps.
The other missing stool was national security — foreign policy and defense. The governor’s only reference to national security was to say that even national defense, which he called “the first and most important mission of government,” could not get a free pass when it came to cutting the budget.
The same day the governor spoke, the Egyptian government, our ally for decades, had fallen, casting the whole Middle East into confusion at best, chaos at worst.
Now the cons and the neocons, and the realists and the idealists, and the State Department long-timers and the Freedom Agenda proponents are all arguing about what we should have done, and what we should do.
A reasonable position for Gov. Daniels would have been to cut through that fog of argument and call for increasing the defense budget. Another position would have been to call for not cutting it, and notwithstanding that the Pentagon’s balance sheet is as unyielding of useful data as a black hole.
Daniels understands that we cannot balance the budget by eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse. But neither can we wait around for the Defense Department to produce a clean balance sheet before buying the defense we need.
Hoosiers are not much affected by illegal immigration, nor is Indiana involved in national security. Hoosiers also know their state government can’t determine national abortion policy. Nor can Indiana do much to affect today’s culture, which drives so many of the social issues. It may be possible therefore to avoid discussing social issues when running for governor of Indiana. But not for president of the United States.
Because Gov. Daniels avoided both the social issues and the national security issue at CPAC, many observers thought it fair to conclude from his speech — a very good speech indeed — that he is not running for president. Or, at least, not running for president yet.