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Mitch Daniels: 'I Would Reinstate the Mexico City Policy'

10:07 PM, Jun 17, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Indiana governor Mitch Daniels tells Michael Gerson that he would reinstate the Mexico City Policy but is still sticking to the idea of a truce on social issues:

"I would reinstate the Mexico City policy," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told me, removing an uncertainty of his own creation. Promoting abortion with international family planning funds is one of "a thousand things we shouldn't be spending money on."

Yet days earlier, when asked if he would return to that family planning rule as president, Daniels had responded: "I don't know." It is a measure of Daniels' standing as a possible Republican candidate in 2012 that his answer caused a considerable stir. Social conservatives criticized his idea that a "truce" on divisive, culture war controversies might be required to deal with "survival issues" such as terrorism and debt.

Daniels' clarification on Mexico City shows his realism. But his continued insistence on the idea of a truce shows his stubbornness -- a defining characteristic. "If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice," he told me. "If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone. We are in this together. Whatever our honest disagreements on other questions, might we set them aside long enough to do some very difficult things without which we will be a different, lesser country?"

So, it would seem to follow that Daniels would also be in favor of denying taxpayer funds for abrtions through Obamacare, but he hasn't fully explained what a "truce" would mean in practice. He may want to consider these words from Ross Douthat:

a figure like Daniels might be able to get away with emphasizing federalism on certain social issues — sex education, for instance, and possibly gay marriage as well — in which case the language of a “truce” might be deployed to suggest that not every hot-button debate needs to be settled in Washington. But on the set of existing social-issue flashpoints where the president has direct power — executive orders and (especially) judicial appointments — Daniels’ suggestion doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s a political loser in the G.O.P. primaries, but more importantly it’s an impractical approach to governing: A “truce” policy would either turn out to be a meaningless rhetorical flourish (and would be quickly attacked as such), or else it would be indistinguishable from surrender.

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