The remarks of Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) were sadly problematic.
The Governor demonstrated an understanding of how government works, of how it spends money, and the ways in which it fails to provide a true accounting to the people. He is obviously keen on innovative approaches to government. No doubt, he has learned a lot during his career, which includes service as political advisor to President Reagan and as Director of OMB under President George W. Bush.
The Governor repeatedly, and rightly, invoked the leadership of President Reagan. He also cited the example of Winston Churchill who put aside his disdain for communism in order to fight the Nazis. The Governor warned that we have a tough fight ahead and that we would need the help of a broad range of Americans, some of whom, he said, were more inclined to surf by CNN on their way to the sports channel and who had likely never heard of CPAC.
The Governor correctly presented the country’s massive fiscal crisis as affecting, among other things, national security and the private sector and the nonprofit institutions that benefit from the private sector’s wealth creation. He contrasted the failing performance of the bloated federal government with the superior performance of Indiana’s lean state government.
But here’s the problem. Although there is connectivity between a bloated government and the encroachment of liberty, having a small and restrained government does not alone ensure the defense of liberty. Similarly, there is connectivity between a bloated government and national security, but restraining government and restoring the balance sheet does not alone ensure that security.
President Reagan understood that reality. When he took office, the country faced economic disaster, a judicial and elitist assault on our social values and the most powerful evil in world history –a power that could annihilate the world. Yet, President Reagan stood tall on all counts. He believed in the people and that they would awaken to embrace their founding. And that’s the type of fully integrated conservative leadership we need today.
But what do we make of the great Winston Churchill? Well, yes, the Prime Minister (as did FDR) “set aside his disdain of communism” to defeat the Nazis. But, sadly, the communists did not set aside their disdain of the free world. They kept their war maps marked into three camps –the communists, the Nazis, and the “imperialists,” and they raced to grab as much territory as possible. Our General Patton understood that, but Churchill and FDR did not. That other war would drag on until President Reagan led us to victory.
And that’s what we need now. We need a president who understands all the ways in which we have strayed from our founding and who is not afraid to lead America on all fronts.