Phil hit all the right points in his column today about Mitch Daniels. Daniels gets a lot of flak for saying out loud what most successful Republican presidential candidates actually do. But some of this has to do with ambiguity over what Daniels means by “truce,” something the Indiana governor has been slow to clear up.
At first, it sounded like Daniels intended to ignore social issues as completely as possible. When asked by the Weekly Standard‘s John McCormack whether he would issue an executive order reinstating the Mexico City policy — a ban on federal funding for international family planning groups that perform or promote abortion — he initially replied, “I don’t know.” Days later, Daniels told Michael Gerson he was in favor of Mexico City. By the time I profiled Daniels last fall, he was defining the truce more in terms of his priorities while still promising to resist social liberal aggression.
As Phil notes on the main site, Ronald Reagan deemphasized social issues in order to deal with stagflation and the Cold War. (And Reagan was a social conservative activist compared to most other Republican presidents.) But he nevertheless made clear where he stood on social issues, and that he would sign socially conservative legislation, veto socially liberal bills, and issue executive orders where appropriate. When assailing the truce, most social conservatives are seeking assurances that Daniels would do the same.