Mark Hemingway writes:
I got a call this morning from Indiana Governor and rumored presidential candidate Mitch Daniels. In my column yesterday on his remarks about a "truce" on social issues, I left the door open to the possibility that the Governor's remarks may not have been a "rhetorical misstep."
Of course, if you know anything about Mitch Daniels in this respect he's the anti-Obama. He's far more concerned about communication than rhetoric, he's thoughtful and rarely speaks without consideration. Rhetorical missteps are exceedingly rare.
And indeed, Daniels called me to say that he's dead serious about the need for the next president to declare a truce. "It wasn't something I just blurted out," he told me. "It's something I've been thinking about for a while."
He's emphasized the need to focus like a laser beam on the existential threats facing the country -- the two big issues he's previously identified being the war on terror and the country's precarious fiscal position. "We're going to need a lot more than 50.1 percent of the country to come together to keep from becoming Greece," he said.
Daniels, whose spokesman declined my interview requests, leaves a number of questions unanswered. First, what does a truce mean in actual practice? Is he still unsure about whether the next Republican president should immediately reinstate the Mexico City Policy? Should the next Republican president fight to block taxpayer-funding for abortion in Obamacare?
Second, how would a truce help Daniels achieve his goals? How would not implementing policies on abortion supported by 65% to 70% of voters broaden his base of support and give him a mandate to solve fiscal problems? Who are the congressional Democrats who would vote for a fiscal reform package in exchange for not reinstating the Mexico City Policy for a year or two?
As Ramesh Ponnuru has observed, Ronald Reagan didn't make social issues his top priority, "But he neither softened his positions on them nor declared a truce. He did what he could on those issues while concentrating on the reinvigoration of the country, the resumption of growth, and the defeat of the Soviets."
Daniels leaves us wondering why he believes taking a different approach to social issues would help us get our fiscal house in order.