Thursday, November 3

Mitch Update

It's been a while since we caught up with Indiana Governor Mitch "How's The Weather Down There?" Daniels, but that's not for want of shenanigans.

In Indiana's continuing saga of trying to figure out what time it is, which used to be a sort of quaint Hoosier quirk until Mitch and his entrepreneurial spirit gang turned it into a constitutional crisis, last week the USDOT posted its proposed rule change which would move five Indiana counties from Eastern to Central time. That's out of the fourteen which had petitioned for the change after Daniels punted the matter to localities rather than make his own recommendations to the DOT. And after he had predicted that any body that petitioned for the change would get it.

On its own this would actually count as a success on the Mitch Daniels Grading Curve, and Daniels actually did try to finagle a passing grade, saying that "we now had a simpler map, two time zones instead of three."

But that much had been accomplished when he rammed Daylight Savings Time through the legislature last spring. All the DOT did was add to the Central Time glob of counties in the northwest and southwest corners of the state. And one of the counties it approved was St. Joseph (where South Bend is), but not its eastern neighbor Elkhart. Elkhart, in fact, hadn't petitioned for Central Time. Elkhart wants to remain on Eastern Time. Daniels pronounced this "unworkable". So it turns out that Mitch wanted localities to make the call, and so long as the call was fine with him it was fine with him.

This is a cautionary tale. People who think the business model is somehow a better, or more efficient, way to run a government simply have not worked for a large enough sample of bosses in their lives to have an appreciation of what that really means. Bear in mind that before George W. Bush called him to Washington to solve our nation's budget surplus problem, Mitch ran a global pharmaceutical concern. Before that, while still in college, he ran a smaller, more localized operation, but that's another story.

It tends to give you pause, or it would if you knew where to set the clock.

But Mitch wasn't done. He has a weekly Press Availability, which is a lot like the President's weekly radio address in that I haven't the slightest interest in what he has to say. When he trotted out his dissatisfaction with the St. Joe/Elkhart scheme, someone asked him if he hadn't, in fact, campaigned on moving Indiana to Central Time. Mitch said, "Pardon me, I did not."

Now, when most Hoosiers use that expression they mean, "excuse my walking in front of you," or "Sorry I belched," but when Mitch says it, even in print, he manages to sound like Margaret Dumont. I'm not sure whether it was the tone, or the audacity of the lie, but every major metropolitan daily in the state responded by printing fifteen or so quotes from his campaign of him saying precisely that.

The other story is of more local interest, but I include it because it's so heartwarming. The Daniels clan showed up, in costume, on Halloween to pass out treats to the kiddies who made it through the metal detectors and the gauntlet of State Police. This was at the Governor's Mansion, which prior to the PR roll-out about the event two weeks ago had been pronounced unfit for human habitation and hopelessly dated in decor. Readers with better memories than mine may recall that Daniels first declined to live there, preferring to remain in the Republican suburbs while he built himself a McCastle in a gated community close by. When it was pointed out that state law requires he reside "in the seat of government" Mitch allowed as how he might sleep there some night, sometime, if that would make all you bastards happy.

But now, with a SurveyUSA poll giving him approval numbers in the mid-40s, suddenly he and Cheri will be moving in. As I noted elsewhere, I've got $20 for the first non-photo-op pic of the First Lady walking the dog on the mean streets of the Northside.

Cheri made the Guv dress as the Cowardly Lion, part of a Wizard of Oz set piece. When he tossed that tidbit to the press a couple weeks ago, Daniels felt compelled to add, "I've never thought of myself as cowardly."

We get it, Mitch. You're short.


Anonymous said...

What I want to know is, based upon your diligent reporting of his arrogant incompetency, how the hell is Mitch's approval still in the 40s? Isn't Taft next door in Ohio down in the teens? I've heard Hoosiers can be slow to make up their minds, but this is ridiculous.

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Not guilty, this time. Mitch has only been in office ten months, and he's a Republican. That he's not in the high fifties is a testament to incompetence.

During the campaign Mitch declared his opponent's fifty-percent approval was a sign something was wrong. His mouthpiece explained his worse numbers by saying it's what happens when you make unpopular decisions. Which I'm hoping will be his bumper sticker in '08. Mitch Daniels: He Makes Unpopular Decisions!