Friday, June 5

Mitch "The Shovel" Daniels, 2012

“A lot of upper-income people that I saw vote for him, it was a luxury purchase in the sense that it didn’t seem a threat economically, there was the history of it, there was the natural desire for change after a period of poor results,” Daniels said.

“Quite honestly, it was a fashion-statement vote for some people. I’m not disparaging that. People wanted to demonstrate enthusiasm for a society that could elect an African-American president.

“Not sure how that holds up over time,” he said.

---Mitch Daniels, speech to the Hudson Institute, June 2, 2009

quoted by Syliva A. Smith, Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette

SEVERAL indomitable observers of Hoosier politics have begun to suspect that Indiana's Bonzai Governor Mitch Daniels is either seriously considering a run for the Republican Presidential nomination, or has already begun one, now that he's solved all of Indiana's economic woes.

It is, of course, what used to be Hot Stove League time in politics, when you could blather about such things without fear of anyone remembering what you'd said when the time came. But with this new internet thing an' all, it's a 24-hour/ day news cycle, and the campaign never really ends, or even hibernates. Still, opinions are tempered with the knowledge that the first requirement is raising money, and that The Candidate has to decide to run, something that used to involve considerations of the national media looking into your actual record, but now is mostly a matter of checking for dead hookers or live catamites that might be lying around loose. Daniels' team has pretty much been vacuuming up his record as he went along, like one a' them fancy woodworking tools that hoovers the sawdust right off the working edge. This is what they learned from the Nixon scandals, and how they spent the first seven years of the Reagan administration, before they had to drop all offensive operations and concentrate on keeping everyone who wasn't in prison already out.

(Here, by the way [caution: it's that Salon "Ask a Wingnut" column, penned by "a former Bush official" who, fittingly, refuses to use his real name. As is only sensible. Evidently, Camille Paglia can't keep up with their demands for copy. And hell, I'm not sure even Camille could top this for egregiousness] is a prime aged example:)
...Reagan was, to borrow a phrase from Lady Margaret Thatcher, "a conviction politician." He operated out of a set of deeply held beliefs that governed his view of the world, of morality and the presidency. Unlike Nixon or Clinton, Reagan's concerns about public opinion were addressed in the way he dealt with issues and crises, not whether he dealt with them at all.

I'll give you a couple minutes if you want to catch a quick shower.

Anyway, no speculator claims certitude, not at this point, but there are a few curiously-timed co-inkydinks. Mitch went Whack-a-Mole immediately after the election. He kept his head down while his former employer bailed out Wall Street criminials, and he stayed down when the question turned to the Big Three automakers, despite their prominence in Indiana's economy. The only thing he had to say about the Obama stimulus package was, "We'll take their money," signally a) that he's not joining the Silly Secession Movement, not if it means denting his own carefully-crafted record, and b) he's still as indifferent to Federal deficit spending as he was when he headed the OMB. He's AWOL for Indiana's legislative session, despite the fact that it must pass a two-year budget, and he turns up at the very end to torpedo the one that might pass with a veto threat, so he gets to call a Special Session and blame the legislature for its "failure to get its work done". Then a "special request" revenue projection through 2011 (that request was, um, I've got it here somewhere--oh, yeah, Mitch Daniels') shows the state $1 billion in the hole, instead of the mere $750 million down predicted in January. This is supposed to trigger sticker shock, and total acquiescence to The Shovel's recipe of budget cuts, despite the fact that, a mere 25% ago, he could barely be bothered to look at the thing.

And it's just about this time, just when he's as far out of the woods as the tangled underbrush of Indiana's economy will allow, that the remnants of the once-proud Right Wing Noise Machine start touting him as Presidential timber, and he winds up as the cover boy for "Conservative" Tiger Beat. And suddenly he's everywhere, like in the first two years of his first term, when you couldn't remodel a J.C. Penney's without budgeting in a ribbon for him to cut. And suddenly he allows as how maybe, just maybe, he'll let the legislature take a peek at a quarter of the state's Rainy Day Fund, which just a couple months ago he was calling untouchable on the grounds that Things Could Always Get Worse. (This, to my knowledge, was Daniels' first foray into epistemology, or at least the first where he didn't happen to have The Answer handy.) And 25% of the Rainy Day Fund just happens to roughly equal $250 million, or roughly the additional amount his second audit turned in the deficit. Problem solved!

[It suddenly occurs to me that "Because Things Could Always Get Worse" would make a great Daniels campaign slogan.]

And Daniels also, suddenly, became Horatio at the Bridge over a 2% increase in education spending (he's for it), despite the fact that that increase was practically the only one in the budget he torpedoed a month ago. And yesterday (majority) Democrats walked out of a budget hearing because Daniels is trying to claim credit for that 2% increase by adding in $400 million in Federal stimulus money.

And this, really, is our point: politicians spin the truth. Politicians say things that aren't quite so. Politicians lie. But few of them, in my experience, lie so boldly, so gleefully, with such dedication to self-aggrandizement, nor with such depressingly predictable regularity. This is the template for practically everything Mitch Daniels has done as Indiana's Bonzai Governor. He lied about the budget "deficit" he "inherited". He lied to local governments about Time Zone changes in order to pass Daylight Savings Time. He withheld feasibility studies on the sale of the Indiana Toll Road. He accused Democrats of having balanced the budget with accounting tricks, before he balanced the budget with different accounting tricks. He abdicated responsibility for the looming Property Tax explosion scheduled for 2005, then lied about whose responsibility it was. And the man who uncorked this one, at the Hudson Institute this week:
He recalled Ronald Reagan’s caution that “we have no enemies, only opponents. We are all Americans, after all.”

Is the same little man who called Statehouse Democrats "car bombers". For that matter, he's the same guy who said in that very same Hudson Institute speech:
“The meanest people in American politics are on the left, bar none. No conservative I know can hold a candle to sheer outright meanness. Of course, that comes from believing that power is everything and winning is the only thing that matters, which we do not believe."

And of course we should remember that Ronald Wilson "Bloodbath" Reagan wasn't much troubled by the obligation listen to his own advice, either.


Julia said...

The meanest people in American politics are on the left, bar none.

Coming from the guy who said New York asking for the recovery money his boss promised us after 9/11 was a greedy little jewish game, that's practically a professional opinion.

Joyful Alternative said...

But our governor, Ed Rendell, gets bigger press than yours for saying dumb things.

Laminatrix said...

Best version of Reagan? Neal Stephenson's version in "Cryptonomicon."

grouchomarxist said...

The meanest people in American politics are on the left, bar none. [...] Of course, that comes from believing that power is everything and winning is the only thing that matters, which we do not believe.

Wow. Just ... wow.

I've never seen such frantic projection -- except maybe that scene in the Exorcist, when Linda Blair's head turns into a rotary "mass quantities of green pea soup" dispenser.

I am curious, though: what's a "Bonzai" governor? I mean, I've heard of "Banzai!" as a sort of Japanese version of "Yee-hah!", and bonsai trees, but this is a new one on me.

Or could this be a mashup of the two, signifying Mitch is both dumber than a stump, and riding his state down in flames?

R. Porrofatto said...

I'm guessing that "Bonzai Governor" refers to the dwarf-like proportions of Mr. Daniels' mind & physique. If you remember your Swift, he became "My Man Mitch" to George W. in Lilliput where Mitch served our giant former leader as piss-boy and muff-raker. Or something like that. Sometimes satire is so over-the-top I can't remember the details.

Darren said...

Yeah, the toll road thing. There was something in the news today about what happened with THAT chunk of change.

I'm not allmixedup about the money trail, am I?

Toll Road Lease $$ -> "Major Moves" highway project $$ -> massive Chrysler bond investments made by our state government -> Chrysler sinks like a rock and tries to get itself sold to Fiat -> Federal Court approves deal, much to detriment of Chrysler bondholders -> Indiana cries 'foul' and tries to get U.S. Supreme Court to stop the deal -> SCOTUS stays the process for something like 24 hours, then allows it to proceed...

Governer Daniels, where did the money go?