Mitch on a roll to White House?

Dateline: Tue 08 Jun 2010

Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard has an interesting if somewhat fawning piece about Indiana's aw-shucks governor who is, as we all know, the brightest of the bright blades: Republican Mitch Daniels. Thanks to Chris Spangle for alerting his Facebook friends to the story's presence:

Titled "Ride Along with Mitch," the sub-head reads, "Can the astonishing popularity of Indiana's governor carry him to the White House in 2012?"

Here are the nut graphs, sort of:

"His telegenic appeal is highly unlikely. He’s 5′7″. His pale coloring is set off by his reddish gray hair, and the day is fast approaching when the combover will no longer be able to work its magic. He favors pressed sport shirts and sharply creased Dockers, public-golf-course casual. His accent is hard to place. He calls it 'hillbilly hybrid,' a term he coined to describe what happens when the rounded tones of Tennessee and Georgia, where he lived as a boy, are stomped flat as a griddle by the adenoidal twang of Central Indiana, where he’s lived, off and on, since he was ten. He has a fine sense of humor—after their dog bit him he told the family he was off to a diner for his new favorite breakfast, 'two eggs over easy, biscuits and gravy, and a tetanus shot'—but his manner is just awkward enough to make you wonder, when you talk to him, if you’re making him nervous.

"And voters, apparently, find it all endearing. In 2008 he garnered more votes than any other candidate in the state’s history, even as Obama became the first Democratic candidate for president to win the state since 1964. Daniels won 20 percent of the black vote and a majority of the youth vote. His approval rating among voters here, in the trough of the recession, ranges between 60 and 70 percent."

Ferguson also talks about Daniels' ethics and commitments (he has funneled a lot of his own money into the Oaks Academy, a Christian school in urban Indy) as well as the old baggage: the divorce he and wife Cheri went through in 1994, after which they remarried in 1997 ("If you like happy endings, you'll love our story," he was quoted in the Indianapolis Star in 2004), and his pot bust when he was a student at Princeton Univeristy.

A friend (and a rabib Republican) made me laugh a few months ago when he flattened Daniels' presidential chances: he has three strikes against him, said this guy -- height, hair and his wife (who is not a political wife, not "The Good Wife," but someone who does her own thing).

I think Daniels would make a heck of a candidate. He is more principled and undeniably a lot smarter than many GOP hopefuls, and I think he is the real deal -- what you see is what you get. Plus, as Hoosiers know, he can make the trains run on time, and when he makes a mistake (as he did with contracting family and child services out privately) he can back down and admit it and regroup.

Despite all this, Daniels, in Ferguson's piece, is already putting the kabosh on the prez rumors.

Ferguson writes:

"A couple of his friends say the one thing that will keep Daniels from a presidential campaign is deference to his family.

“'Who would want to have your life opened up like that,' he said at dinner. 'Who would want to subject his family to it? It’s vicious. My daughters are terrified of the idea.'"

Perhaps his very decency is what will keep him from seeking office -- not hair, not height and not wife.

But what do you think?








Wilson E Allen [unverified] said:

If he runs, it'll be directly in contravention to his 2008 political spot promising never to run again for public office.

Maybe he was just lying?


2010-06-08 14:43:53

ruthholl [Member] said:

Maybe he will change his mind? Not a lot out there for the GOP; Daniels really does have that "aw shucks" appeal, plus some smart brains...and good God, ABP (Anybody But Palin).
Wilson, do you have a link to that spot? Just curious, because you know someone will dig it up.

2010-06-08 15:22:22

Matthew Stone [unverified] said:

Ruth, I know I saw that piece during the 2008 election.

Some creative Googling revealed this Washington Post write up ( and linked to the ad itself (

2010-06-08 16:52:18

hendy [Member] said:

This man has been a mismanager from the onset. His outsourcing contracts have injured Indiana heavily. Staff choices have made terrible mistakes starting at the BMV and rolling through the FSSA, not to mention leasing state assets, and dodging infrastructure expenses, the I-69 debacle, not to mention daylight savings time.

This man is a walking disaster area, whether it's selling IPALCO to AES and cratering employee pensions.

This is the man that started George Bush's record deficits as Dir of the OMB. This is a guy that surrounded himself with advisors and took the worst advice.

Indiana's economy is dark, its infrastructure crumbling, and divisiveness at an all-time high. He's called elected representatives names that can't be printed, even called them terrorists.

He no sooner belongs in Washington than his greatest admirer, Mickey Maurer (second only to the mirror).

2010-06-08 17:32:17

ruthholl [Member] said:

Thanks, Matthew, for that link. I'm going to go there.
Hendy, I know plenty of people share your view. But who on earth can the Republicans put forth? Read "Game Change" really nails how inept McCain's campaign was.
Oh, well, stick around and see what happens...
I do agree that Indiana still has quite a ways to go, but it did under Frank O'Bannon and Joe Kernan, too. Maybe it's in the water?

2010-06-08 18:14:53

Portia [unverified] said:

As someone who works with the state government every day, I wonder what his constituents and supporters would think if they could see first-hand the enormous amount of money that is wasted and the relatively little that is actually accomplished. I am specifically referring to DCS, but I cannot imagine that other agencies are run more efficiently.

2010-06-09 08:15:33

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow, much material, so little space.

When folks talk about Mitch, they ignore once essential element: he grew up as a patrician--who almost always behave in the same way: they own, never lease. They hire out, they are too snooty, and they detest public education. That's the reason for Mitch's Oaks work and money. Lemme sort this out:

I have a love-hate thing with Mitch. Never voted for him, and I can't imagine I ever will. But I admire him for some reason. He is not the typical politician, and he effs with the GOP mindset every day. Huge plus.

His toll road lease was borderline brilliant. He did what any good patrician would do: never sell, let someone else pay for the improvements, and hold onto the title. He effed up the cashflow of toll road proceeds. But, our roads got a boost without extra tax dollars, and if the toll road leasees ever hit the wall, which looks likely, we get the improved property back. A smart risk.

His FSSA screwup was the most damning to me, for two reason: 1. the contract directly benefitted one of his closest political buddies, Mitch Roob. And it never, ever made sense. 2. The contract hurt a vulnerable population that has very little ballot oomph. A population whose children, I'll point out, have gone from 13 to 18 during his tenure...and, I'll bet, with a little research, we can determine they're not faring all that well. In any arena. If we'd invest in these at-risk kids in a meaningful way, someday, we might bust the cycle of poverty, poor education, crime, teen pregnancy, etc. But too many Republicans are loathe to do that. It's in their DNA. I call it the Greed Gene.

If Mitch and his cronies exhibited one-tenth the concern for those FSSA clients, that they demonstrate for their hand-picked Oaks children, imagine the change we'd see.

The IPALCO fiasco was a buzzkill, too. Again, he did what any patrician would've done: cash out, duck and run for cover.

You can have Cheri and her "independence." If she's too snooty to live on N. Meridian St., she can kiss my Hoosier butt. It was good enough, pre-remodel, for Josie Orr to get soused daily. It should be good enough for Cheri to play kiss-and-make-up with Mitch. (Damn there's a mental image I need to delete)

I don't know whom the GOP will recruit for 2012. Don't realy care. I already know what the campaign will be, because they've been showing their cards via Chinless McConnell and Bohner since 1-1-09: "Obama all bad, us all good." And we'll allow ourselves to be pigeon-holed into angry office and family discussions about the small things, while we once again ignore big picture.

But a lot of oil can flow under the bridge between now and 2012.

I don't care what Mitch does in the future. The Republicans have done much worse, and may again. Our 24-hour news cycle is deafeningly simplilstic sometimes, and we'll be told what to think, from Fox and MSNBC, battling bookends, nonstop until November 2010.

I can't freaking wait.

2010-06-09 08:28:32

hendy [Member] said:

Another reason to throw away the TV, TTT.

Indianapolis is somewhat immune from the economic malaise, but if you drive up north to Ft W, Gary, Elkhart, Kokomo, Anderson, or down S to Evansville, JeffV, NA, or even Jasper (gasp!), you'll see the real effects.

Patrician? No... just the royalty masquerading as the proletariat in his motorhome.

I can imagine Mitch in retirement. That's the best place for him.

2010-06-09 11:38:38

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"I can imagine Mitch in retirement. That's the best place for him."

I'm with you on that one, Hendy (and everything you said in your first post here). Let's go New Age for awhile and start collectively visualizing Mitch lounging on a white-sand beach sipping one of those cocktails with a little bamboo umbrella.

If we visualize enough, then maybe it will happen. Soon Lord, soon.

2010-06-09 13:17:35

Marycatherine Barton [unverified] said:

Very interesting post, Ruth, as are all these comments. Personally, I think that the Republicans wiil run Romney, and that MAYBE, the Democrats will choose Howard Dean. Hey, this is still the USA.

2010-06-09 21:51:44

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Thanks, Hendy. I knew Mitch at North Central. He came from patrician-style money, no doubt. Not enough to buy the world, but plenty to do whatever he wanted.

2010-06-10 05:30:48

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