Two things here. First, obviously, Huck wants to position himself as a social-con champion in case he gets the itch to run next year. If he can do that by torpedoing a potential dark-horse rival, particularly one from Indiana who might play well in a midwestern state like Iowa, so much the better.

Second, the uproar among social cons undoubtedly reflects deeper anxiety about the tea party’s emphasis on fiscal responsibility over “family values.” Remember Ben Smith’s piece back in March about evangelicals feeling antsy at the prospect of the GOP turning libertarian? Sample quote:

“There’s a libertarian streak in the tea party movement that concerns me as a cultural conservative,” said Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association. “The tea party movement needs to insist that candidates believe in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.”

“As far as I can tell [the tea party movement] has a politics that’s irreligious. I can’t see how some of my fellow conservatives identify with it,” said Richard Cizik, who broke with a major evangelical group over his support for government action on climate change, but who remains largely in line with the Christian right on social issues. “The younger Evangelicals who I interact with are largely turned off by the tea party movement — by the incivility, the name-calling, the pathos of politics.”

Follow the link for Tony Perkins — who hammered Daniels yesterday on his call for a “truce” — dismissing tea partiers’ “Contract From America” as irrelevant because it didn’t include socially conservative stances among its top priorities. The reason Daniels is taking such a beating, I suspect, is that evangelicals want to send a message to the GOP before its flirtation with libertarianism turns into something more serious. Message: If you go the “Reason” magazine route, you’re going to find yourselves with a much smaller base. Enter Huck with a shot across the bow:

Apparently, a 2012 Republican presidential prospect in an interview with a reporter has made the suggestion that the next President should call for a “truce” on social issues like abortion and traditional marriage to focus on fiscal problems.

Let me be clear though, the issue of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political issues. They are moral issues. I didn’t get involved in politics just to lower taxes and cut spending though I believe in both and have done it as a Governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization.

For those of us who have labored long and hard in the fight to educate the Democrats, voters, the media and even some Republicans on the importance of strong families, traditional marriage and life to our society, this is absolutely heartbreaking. And that one of our Republican “leaders” would suggest this truce, even more so. Governor Daniels is a personal friend and a terrific Governor, and I’m very disappointed that he would think that pro-life and pro-family activists would just lie down…

A strong leader doesn’t need to focus myopically on one or two issues – but a strong leader is willing to fight for and defend their principles while rising to meet new challenges and solve all of the existing systemic problems confronting us.

He follows that by asking for donations, of course. What’s odd in hindsight about what Daniels said is that it’s hard to imagine a situation where a deal on cutting entitlements would hinge on some sort of concession on a social issue. Democrats don’t need to deal on abortion; their policy preference on that issue is a matter of constitutional law, thanks to the Supreme Court. And they’re leery enough about losing votes among centrists by backing gay rights that, to this day, The One still maintains the charade that he’s against gay marriage. If we ever do get to the point where Democrats are willing to reform social security, does anyone seriously think their payoff demand will be a federal same-sex marriage statute? Fact is, in phrasing it as he did, Daniels opened up a can of worms that he didn’t have to open. From now on, he should just say “solving our fiscal crisis should be America’s top national priority” and leave it at that.

Exit question: Where’s Palin on this, anyway? Surely she’s not ready to concede the social-con vote to Huck.

Update: Headline comments imported!