Now that Lady Starburst has been deemed insufficiently serious to lead the Party of Lincoln, it’s pretty clear that we’re in for another GOP daddy as the presidential nominee in 2012. I believe it will be either Hunky Prairie Daddy John Thune or Folksy Fiscal Daddy Mitch Daniels.
I saw Wolf Blitzer interviewing Daniels yesterday. Blitzer hit Daniels with an excerpt of this quote from David Leonhardt of the Times:
As President George W. Bush’s first budget director, Mr. Daniels badly underestimated the cost of the Iraq war, a war that ended up costing hundred of billions of dollars and became a major source of the Bush deficits. He argues that the criticism of him on this point is unfair, because he was asked to estimate only the cost of the brief occupation that military planners expected, not to estimate the length of the occupation that would be needed.
That strikes me as a marginally reasonable defense. I think the bigger question is why, as budget director, he did not try to prevent the Bush administration from turning a big surplus into a huge deficit — not just through the war, but through tax cuts and other policies, too. If he runs for president, that question deserves to be a big part of the vetting of Mr. Daniels by the media, his opponents and the voter.
Daniels didn’t really answer this, he evaded and gave a folksy smile, and said something like “we weren’t perfect but a sight better than they’re doing today”. Total bullshit, since we’re in a bad recession now and weren’t then, but as a line of bs goes, it’s probably good enough for government work, especially in this media environment.
Of the Republican candidates, Daniels scares me the most. I can see the Village rallying him hard and all that cornfed charm goes over well in the midwest, which may be the most important battleground in 2012.