Letter: Daniels Response to the State of the Union

January 26, 2012

Watching Gov. Mitch Daniels last night deliver his response to the State of the Union, the mind jumped ahead to Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012.

The hunches of my wife and my optometrist have proved out. Barack Obama has won reelection. How, though, did it happen?

In a column written after the South Carolina primary, Pat Buchanan had predicted a replay of 1964 and the San Francisco Cow Palace — a wonderful message but a horrible outcome.

The GOP had split into the Tories (Mitt Romney), the Opportunists (Newt Gingrich) and the Agitated (the Tea Party). Mr. Obama’s coalition of the Extreme and the Confused had held fast.

Most of all, it was clear that the GOP plan hadn’t changed since the Nixon campaigns. It remained . . . well, the same as the Democrat plan.

Irving Kristol had first asked the question back in the 1980s:  How could a single political strategy — i.e., to simply win and hold office — serve both Republican and Democrat interests?

Liberals see holding government office as the means and the end. Conservatives put their trust in constitutional principle regardless of who is in office. Those goals are diametric, Kristol argued, so shouldn’t the strategies employed be diametric as well?

What would have been the outcome, for instance, had the GOP organized itself as the party of principle rather than the party of “it’s our turn”?

That, the Daniels’ speech testified, was easier said than done.

— Craig Ladwig


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