Mitch Daniels (Or Someone Like Him!) for President

What if there were grown-ups in government?

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By John A. Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I am thrilled to see that the inestimable Steve Pearlstein has joined the "Mitch Daniels (Or Someone Like Him!) For President" movement, which had sadly lapsed during my sabbatical, and is in dire need of fuel.

In his column in this morning's Washington Post, Pearlstein raises the fanciful question of what would happen if grown-ups ran the United States Congress, instead of selfish children.

Pearlstein runs through a list of Daniels's accomplishments as a Reagan and Bush adviser and in his current job as the Republican governor of Indiana. And then, perhaps caught up in the spirit of the holiday season, Pearlstein wonders what might occur if this Mitch was leading the Republicans in the U.S. Senate, instead of the other Mitch—Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

In the debate over our remarkable but hideously expensive and flawed healthcare system, Daniels might actually act to improve things, writes Pearlstein, instead of chanting "No" at every opportunity, like McConnell and his Republican colleagues.

Imagine how good this historic legislation might be if the Republicans dropped their "Don't cut grandma's Medicare!" pose—and pose it is—and actually contributed to the debate. Imagine how reassured the country would be if a bill with real long-term cost controls passed the Senate with 70 or 75 votes. Imagine how independent voters would respond to a Republican who helped cut the federal deficit while saving them from the threat of losing their homes and life savings to catastrophic illness.

That's not McConnell. "The bad Mitch, as most Americans know by now, is the charming and shameless hypocrite who offers up a steady stream of stale ideology and snarky talking points but almost never a constructive idea. McConnell has decided that the only way for Republicans to win is for President Obama to lose, and he will use lies, threats and all manner of parliamentary subterfuge to obstruct," Pearlstein writes. "The Republican Party, along with the country, is likely to come out the losers as a result."

"The good Mitch"—Daniels—"is a principled but practical conservative who respects the intelligence of voters and would rather get something done than score political points," says the columnist.

Well, governors have to get things done, because that is what we pay them to do. And there used to be members of Congress who reached across the aisle to get things done for their fellow citizens—they even named buildings after them.

Not so much anymore.

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