Mitch Daniels is, thus far, the only Republican I see with any shot of unseating President Obama. He’s the only untainted candidate of presidential caliber capable of campaigning on a record of accomplishments, rather than empty, undeliverable promises (cf. the impossibility of attaining deficit neutrality under the GOP’s ridiculous “Pledge”), and the only GOP candidate, period, seemingly interested in restraining the absurd culture war issues that’ve divided America for years. He even promised a “truce” on culture issues, to address problems of actual substance, rather than griping about phantom issues like “creeping sharia” or what have you. For that, good for him.
Faced with these obvious advantages, it had never occurred to me that the Republican Party may not agree. But the National Review is already throwing him under the bus, for not strenuously opposing judicial competency, as is the American Spectator.
Could Mitch run without the support of the far-right? Probably. Could he win the nomination without them, though? McCain’s experience — his clear rightward swing in the primaries, consummated with the Palin nomination in the general — suggests no. Ideologically, the Republican marriage of small-government fiscal conservatism to big-government moral intrusiveness never made sense; politically, though, the advantages are obvious. So obvious that they’re now the only things that matter. Progress, for the party or for the country, can take a back seat.