SOMEBODY has to say it: Indiana Lt. Governor Becky "GED" Skillman shocked the five people who were paying attention to Hoosier politics this week (and apparently couldn't see an approaching train if it were fifteen feet up the track) by announcing she wouldn't be seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination for 2012, because a recent health exam had uncovered a "minor problem" which has caused her to reevaluate her life, specifically those energies which would have to be directed toward a strenuous campaign.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you that my internet reputation rests, in equal measure, on my fellow-feeling and concern with public health issues. So my immediate concern was that Skillman had caught whatever non-specific, career-altering but not debilitating in any fashion, photogenic, Hollywood-type anonymous disease that felled Steve Buyer's wife right before the House was going to start looking into that college scholarship program of his, the one that didn't provide any college scholarships. Someone should probably call the CDC. And despite the fact that I wouldn't bet on sunup on a politician's say-so, and I'd give serious consideration to the odds against were he a member of the Daniels administration, I certainly wish Lt. Governor Skillman a fair breeze at her back as she transitions into a contemplative Golden Age and whatever sinecure the Daniels Presidential campaign lined up for her in exchange for clearing out so that Mike "Choirboy" Pence might take the hint and run for Governor. Which would, coincidentally, I'm sure, free Daniels of the difficulties involved in winning his party's Presidential nomination while being the second-most popular candidate in his own state, though it won't do anything for his uphill battle to become the shortest US President since the widespread eradication of rickets.
I was a little surprised they didn't throw in a free set of steak knives. Maybe they aren't quite the entrepreneurs they pretend to be.
The announcement was greeted, everywhere but Chez Riley, with a sort of unspoken skepticism. It wouldn't have been heard had it been spoken, anyway, for all the half-felt expressions of concern for her well-being which might have something to do with the fact that an entire state living on unemployment checks will be footing the bill for her care for the rest of her life. But there was enough skepticism just under the surface to force a second day of the Skillman Farewell Tour yesterday, in which she answered questions just slightly more pointed than previous with empty phraseology just slightly more detailed than the day before. A recent surgery turned up, as did reassurances that she was, indeed, fit enough to continue her duties as Lt. Governor, whatever those may be. So we dodged a bullet there. Neither, of course, answered the actual questions, the ones which weren't being asked, so everybody either went home happy or hit the open bar the Defunct Stillman Campaign had set up, and then went home happy.
The skepticism pantomime was fitting, in that it was directed towards a woman no one familiar with a broad outline of Indiana politics could have seriously imagined was going to be Our Next Governor. Skillman had no Indiana constituency; she certainly hasn't been a presence in the Daniels administration, which only got around to letting her cut the actual ceremonial ribbons marking the creation of vaporjobs this year, once the Daniels Presidential Campaign Committee * decided he didn't need to feign podunkitude anymore. I guess it's possible they wanted to keep him away from making (up) any more inflated jobs creation claims, but that would require a recognition of the dictionary definition of integrity. Trust me, they ain't got it.
Skillman got the nod because Daniels was running against a war hero whose Lt. Governor was a woman. Since the Daniels campaign was unable to manufacture the first ** they opted to neutralize the second, and Skillman was the highest ranking Indiana Republican woman at the time. Daniels--god, you really wanna play poker with the guy; he thinks bluffing and lying are the same skill--was clearly about as comfortable with the choice as he was wolfing down battered pig anus and boiled pig feed at the State Fair.
So the impish among us are now deprived of watching Mitch decide just how much skin he was willing to risk in a contested primary, particularly if his campaign's wet dream of Choirboy Pence suddenly developing a focus on state issues, rather than his larger calling to help instigate Armageddon, both economically and militarily, for which he is almost uniquely qualified among potential Republican presidential hopefuls. And, of course, local pundits have either entirely missed the point, or are actively assisting the Daniels gang in urging Pence to pick up some much-needed executive experience on the taxpayer dime.
To my knowledge no one in the Pence camp has said a word about him wanted to be governor, but it's been hanging out there like an unmated sock on a clothesline ever since the Daniels campaign brought it up. Stranger and stupider things have happened, at least twice, but for all of Pence's bucolic Christian certitude it's difficult to imagine he's missed the fact that the next governor of Indiana will spend a lot of time ducking the brickbats thrown at the long-term results of Danielsism. Meanwhile, a run for President now--however doomed--might garner a Veep nomination for a Teabagging Christer, and would make a fine springboard into 2016. No local pundit seems even slightly interested in considering Daniels Nixonian approach to any and all political opponents, or, well, anything but the CW. But maybe they're just waiting for Mitch to make up his mind about running.
* For the record, "Daniels Presidential Campaign Committee" is synonymous with "Daniels administration" or "Mitch Daniels". Like en-vel-ope and ahn-vel-ope, it's just a question of stress.
**At that point. Considering what they've gotten away with since, don't be surprised to find Swiftboaters For Giving Mitch Daniels the Bronze Star pop up in teevee ads sometime this fall.