Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels's appearance on Fox News Sunday revealed everything that is wrong about our politics today. In order to appease the squirrels on the Republican Right, Daniels has followed Mitt Romney, Sens. John McCain.and Lindsey Graham and other GOP leaders in mortgaging their previously admirable independence.
There are practical, pragmatic fixes for almost every domestic problem that Americans face. But these solutions are politically difficult. They require a leader who won't sacrifice what he knows is right in order to curry favor with extremists on the right or left. When Daniels joined more than 40 other governors urging the Obama administration and Congress to authorize additional stimulus funding for the states, he was acting like a grown up. Then Daniels went on Fox News, where he joined the whining children.
Daniels not only abandoned his previous sensible stance, he adopted the latest divisive Republican talking points and suggested that the poor and working poor in this country have been getting a free ride from profligate elected officials. Right. We cannot let the Bush tax cuts lapse for the richest 2 percent of Americans, such Republicans contend, but we should cut off unemployment insurance and pare back Medicaid and fire cops, firemen, and teachers because most working folks are deadbeats.
(I don't know about you, but I don't particularly like being called a deadbeat—much less by some Republican suit who has been enjoying the plush salary, benefits, perks, and psychological stroking that a member of Congress or a governor gets.)
I'm a big Daniels fan. I hope that when he repudiated his previous position on Sunday it was not a signal that he is, like Romney before him, intent on demonstrating to the Republican Right that he will be their happy little lapdog. The times demand at least a terrier. And better to run as a terrier (or a mama grizzly) and lose, than to join in the general and cynical abandonment of principles for a few more years in public office.