I despaired again on State of the Union night that Indiana Gov.
Mitch Daniels isn't running for the Republican presidential
His response to President Barack Obama was the opposite of what
we're seeing in the Roman circuses of GOP debates -- it was
dignified, unbombastic and focused on the crucial issues that face
the country and separate Republicans from Democrats.
Daniels also is more experienced, across the board, than anyone
running. He has as strong a background in national government as
former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick
Santorum (and vastly more than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Romney), having been a Senate aide and a White House budget
As a former top executive of Eli Lilly, he has what Gingrich and
Santorum lack -- experience actually running something -- and he's
been a successful governor for two terms, not in-and-out like
Unlike Romney, there would be no question among Republicans that
he's a committed conservative. Unlike Gingrich, there would be no
record of wild ideas, personal scandal and rhetorical excesses to
And unlike Santorum, Daniels is focused on what counts in America
today -- debt and jobs -- not on a right-wing social agenda. And
he's no withdraw-from-the-world libertarian like Rep. Ron Paul
"Anyone who will join us in the cause of growth and solvency is
our ally and our friend," Daniels said to Democrats and
independents. "Let us rebuild our finances and the safety net and
reopen the door to the stairway upward; any other disagreements we
may have can wait."
Unlike those running, Daniels gave Obama some credit -- for
thwarting al-Qaida and for "bravely backing long-overdue changes in
public education" -- while attacking him for relying, expensively
and inefficiently, on government as the answer to practically every
Obama, in his address, cited President Abraham Lincoln's famous
saying that "government should do for people only what they cannot
do better by themselves and no more," but his speech and
administration suggest he thinks there's little that people or the
private economy can do without heavy government intervention.
Daniels said, with wit: "In word and deed, the president and his
allies tell us that we just can't handle ourselves in this complex,
perilous world without their benevolent protection.
"Left to ourselves, we might pick the wrong health insurance, the
wrong mortgage, the wrong school for our kids -- why, unless they
stop us, we might pick the wrong light bulb."
Unlike Romney, Daniels didn't accuse Obama of being a "European
socialist" or claim, like Gingrich, that he's a "Saul Alinsky
radical" and "un-American. …