Mitch Daniels: I’m probably not ready to debate Obama on foreign policy

posted at 8:48 pm on May 4, 2011 by Allahpundit

Bill Kristol wrote on Saturday that he’s heard from sources it’s “likely” Daniels will run. That seemed plausible given Barbour’s decision to stay out and his decision on Friday to sign the Indiana bill defunding Planned Parenthood. If he’s running, though, why would he say something as silly as this?

His foreign-policy details are TBD. Daniels said that “it cannot be illegitimate to ask” if some of the country’s military commitments should be unwound, but he has not yet reached any conclusions about which should be—or, at least, any he is willing to share. On Afghanistan he refuses to second-guess the decisions of the president, to whose greater access to information he defers. On Libya he says only that he has not seen the case for intervention made. One gets the impression of someone who is much more cautious about foreign intervention than Mitt Romney or Tim Pawlenty, but also cautious about saying so. He was asked if he were ready to debate President Obama on foreign policy. “Probably not.” (He is candid.)

Those words were uttered roughly 36 hours after Obama announced to the world that Bin Laden had finally been liquidated. On Monday, the day after the raid, Jennifer Rubin contacted Daniels’s office for reaction to Bin Laden’s killing and received … a no-comment. (Daniels later praised the operation in an appearance on Fox & Friends.) If he wins the nomination, Democrats will pound him with the “probably not” quote in the general election as evidence of dangerous inexperience; as it is, Romney and Pawlenty will pound him with it in the primaries as evidence that he’s a one-trick fiscally conservative pony who doesn’t have the sort of killer instinct needed to beat Obama if nominated. That’ll resonate with plenty of Republicans who still grumble about McCain having gone too easy on The One three years ago and who remember how the election turned when a single issue that favored the Democrats suddenly leaped to the front of the national agenda. Then it was the financial crisis, next year it could be foreign policy, notwithstanding the enduring importance of the economic recovery. If Daniels is the nominee and Iran does something nutty next September, how does he explain away saying that he wasn’t ready to debate Obama on foreign policy a little more than a year earlier?

This is the sort of thing that, had Palin said it, would be cited by the George Wills of the world as proof of her alleged “intellectual incuriosity” and as evidence that she should never, ever be nominated. E.g., “Why isn’t she ready to debate Obama? Doesn’t she care enough about foreign policy to study it?” But since it’s Daniels, no doubt it’ll be applauded as refreshingly candid and a demonstration of charming Hoosier modesty. I keep coming back to two questions. First, if this guy cares about fiscal issues to the exclusion of virtually everything else, why does he want to be president? Why not angle for an appointment as Treasury secretary or Fed chief instead, where he can concentrate full-time on the debt? I’m pretty sure that if a major deficit reduction package lands on the president’s desk, Pawlenty or Romney or Palin or Huckabee or whoever else will sign it too. And second, are admissions like this and the “social truce” comment some sort of calculated strategy or just evidence of terrible political instincts? I want to believe there’s some amazingly shrewd angle to this that I’m missing (“straight talk!”), but he hasn’t even declared yet and I’m already at the point of wondering what the next flub will be. Any theories?

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I think this debate about public rhetoric vs. wonky policy details is kind of being misframed.

We need leaders who can attend to the policy minutiae and simultaneously explain to the public what is going on, what the implications of certain decisions will be, etc. It’s all about ideas–communicating them and implementing them. You gotta have both.

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 9:32 AM

We do have a revenue problem in the sense that our tax code provides individuals and businesses with all the wrong incentives. So tax code reform is an indispensable part of solving our problems. All of this hysteria over Daniels saying that he is willing to look at another basis for taxation than income is risible.

Anyway, the Palians here can have their day taking cheap shots. She isn’t running and time is on the side of Mitch the Knife whose record of success and good sense is lifting his fortunes as others fade. The fact is that there are only one or two (at most three if you count Romney) alternatives realistically and he is one of them. That’s becoming more clear with time as well.

MJBrutus on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Blah blah blah. Drivel drivel drivel. Same. Trite. Nonsense. Over and over and over.

MJBrutus on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 9:46 AM

I disagree, i believe you get caught up in the rhetoric while the wonks bend you over. Again you were told 38 billion in cuts by the speaker in public. It was a lie and we were screwed behind the scenes while we celebrated victory.

snoopicus on May 5, 2011 at 9:38 AM

The problem is there was no one in the White House to set the Conservative economic agenda the way Reagan did in the ’80s.

If that were the case, the Republican Speaker would be following and supporting that program, knowing that political support exists for it, instead of being timid and afraid of the Democrats and the Media (but I repeat myself) hammering them everyday.

The Speaker is a good man, but he isn’t currently leading a national movement. He is thinking tactically, defensively.

We need someone leading strategically, long term, with boldness and aggression, attacking the foundations of liberal policy in a way that persuades Americans to follow.

Right now, we don’t have that.

Hopefully, soon we will, and that person will knock Obama out of the White House, and we can get the Senate back as well. Then some real action can begin.

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 9:47 AM

The Speaker is a good man, but he isn’t currently leading a national movement. He is thinking tactically, defensively.

We need someone leading strategically, long term, with boldness and aggression, attacking the foundations of liberal policy in a way that persuades Americans to follow.

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 9:47 AM

An overemphasis on policy details can lead to too much of the former (tactical maneuvering) and not enough of the latter (outlining a strategic vision). Both are important, but I’d say the current GOP crop in DC has ceded too much ground by playing mostly on one battlefield at the expense of the other.

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 9:51 AM

Anyway, the Palians here can have their day taking cheap shots. She isn’t running and time is on the side of Mitch the Knife whose record of success and good sense is lifting his fortunes as others fade. The fact is that there are only one or two (at most three if you count Romney) alternatives realistically and he is one of them. That’s becoming more clear with time as well.

MJBrutus on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Oh, the hilarity.

What cheap shots have I taken?

I have challenged the ideas I have heard Daniels put forward, because I do not like them at all.

For you to dismiss Sarah Palin in the lazy way that you do, is a cheap shot all it’s own.

I think she will run, and I also think you are going to end up voting for her twice.

What do you think of that?

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 9:51 AM

MJBrutus on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM

If Mitch had the chance of a snowball in July, he would not be sitting at 4 % in the polls.

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 9:52 AM

An overemphasis on policy details can lead to too much of the former (tactical maneuvering) and not enough of the latter (outlining a strategic vision). Both are important, but I’d say the current GOP crop in DC has ceded too much ground by playing mostly on one battlefield at the expense of the other.

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 9:51 AM

The timidity that they display in the face of Liberal demagoguery is hampering the larger struggle to preserve the Reagan Ideological Realignment that took place with his first nomination and campaign.

They seem to be so worried about their own image in DC they sometimes take their eyes off the real goal we must pursue.

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 9:55 AM

In the past two months Mitch Daniels has made more unforced errors than Sarah Palin has had in the past 2-1/2 years (with MSM, the Democrats and RINOs constantly attacking her), yet Daniels seems to remain the “wet dream” of every RINO at Hot Air.

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 10:07 AM

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 10:07 AM

Puzzling, isn’t it?

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 10:10 AM

This is the sort of thing that, had Palin said it, would be cited by the George Wills of the world as proof of her alleged “intellectual incuriosity”

Palin knows what she believes, based on her own long-held principles.

Paul-Cincy on May 5, 2011 at 10:12 AM

If Mitch had the chance of a snowball in July, he would not be sitting at 4 % in the polls.

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Which is right about where Palin is sitting in the latest NH polls…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Which is right about where Palin is sitting in the latest NH polls…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

So what?

New Hampshire is not America.

A candidate can lose NH and still win the nomination, and the general election also. It has happened several times in recent history.

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 10:20 AM

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

What do you think of the Healthy Indiana Plan? Not a deal-breaker for you?

How about the VAT + flat tax suggestion? Not a deal-breaker
for you?

How about his calls for oil tariffs? Not a deal-breaker for you?

How about his embarrassing tenure at OMB? Not a deal-breaker for you?

How about his use of gimmicks and tax hikes to balance the budget in Indiana without addressing the structural issues at work? Not a deal-breaker for you?

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Which is right about where Palin is sitting in the latest NH polls…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

New Hampshire? New Hampshire?

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 10:28 AM

First, if this guy cares about fiscal issues to the exclusion of virtually everything else, why does he want to be president? Why not angle for an appointment as Treasury secretary or Fed chief instead, where he can concentrate full-time on the debt? I’m pretty sure that if a major deficit reduction package lands on the president’s desk, Pawlenty or Romney or Palin or Huckabee or whoever else will sign it too.

Amen, AP! This is what I keep hammering. Just because someone is good at something, doesn’t mean they’d make a good President. If Daniels is a financial genius, put him at Sec or Treasury. I agree with Daniels, Bachmann and Ryan on issues. But just like I don’t want Daniel’s as President, I think Bachmann has skills more suited for Legislative branch, and it’s the leadership skills that I see in Ryan – not just his financial prowess – that make me think he’d be a great VP. Out of all the people I agree with idealogically, Palin is the one I see with the best leadership skills. THAT’S why I back her for President.

miConsevative on May 5, 2011 at 10:28 AM

If Mitch had the chance of a snowball in July, he would not be sitting at 4 % in the polls.

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 9:52 AM

Which is right about where Palin is sitting in the latest NH polls…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Yeah – while don’t you tell us how she’s doing in San Francisco and New York City too – cause that would be a perfect comparison with Daniel’s national polling (not that I put much stock in polls, so I’m not hold that against Daniels – just your absurd response).

miConsevative on May 5, 2011 at 10:31 AM

miConsevative on May 5, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Me too.

Plus, she makes all the right people lose their freaking minds and beclown themselves with insanity.

Nice bonus, there.

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 10:32 AM

JB, NH has voted for the Democrat in every Presidential Election since 1992.

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 10:38 AM

JB, NH has voted for the Democrat in every Presidential Election since 1992.

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Well, except for G Dubs in 2000…but only by about 7,000 votes.

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM

JB, NH has voted for the Democrat in every Presidential Election since 1992.

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 10:38 AM

So hat JetBoy.

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 10:50 AM

hat = has

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 10:50 AM

So hat JetBoy.

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 10:50 AM

hat = has

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 10:50 AM

It’s an understandable slip…

:/

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:53 AM

But for the record, I have never voted Democrat. I realize to some, if you don’t bow down to Palin you’re a lib.

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:55 AM

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 10:45 AM

Yep. You’re right.

kingsjester on May 5, 2011 at 10:55 AM

But for the record, I have never voted Democrat. I realize to some, if you don’t bow down to Palin you’re a lib.

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:55 AM

I don’t “bow down” to Palin or anyone else.

I just happen to like her better, far better than the others.

It has been that way for a while now, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

Stop poking at people and trying to stir up sh!t.

Brian1972 on May 5, 2011 at 10:58 AM

We need leaders who can attend to the policy minutiae and simultaneously explain to the public what is going on, what the implications of certain decisions will be, etc. It’s all about ideas–communicating them and implementing them. You gotta have both.

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 9:44 AM

I think I agree with you depending on how you are using the word “attend”.

In my mind, a leader doesn’t need to be able to formulate, or even totally understand all the minutiae – but needs to be able to recognize the right solution when they see it and find the right people who know how to figure out the minutiae. Steve Jobs doesn’t need to know how to build an iPhone, but he needs to know it’s the right type of phone to build, hire the people who can make it happen and push them to get it done.

It’s the same with President. You need someone who can look at all the plans. Discern what is at essence with them. Pick the best one. Communicate it to the people in general terms that capture the essence and communicate that. Palin has done it over and over again. She looked at the 2000 page healthcare bill and cut down to the essence with death panels. So too drill, baby drill. Being pals with terrorists. Even in Wisconsin – she succinctly explained to the protesting union workers screaming at her what was at heart of the issue, how Walker was handling it, and how the union bosses are enemy to both them AND us. People who want more detailed from the leaders are looking for the wrong thing. It’d be like Steve Jobs explaining the circuitry of the newest Apple product unveiling rather than talking in general terms that best explain what the new gadget is about.

Palin’s got it. And she’s shown that she can pick the best people to surround herself with and get the most out of them.

Those are the leadership qualities we need to judge our candidates on.

miConsevative on May 5, 2011 at 11:17 AM

LOL, Another item to add to a loooooong list of Daniels blunders.

I am sure his supporters will once again assign this to some pathetic excuse that he “misspoke” or that it was “mispresented”, etc. Which I guess can be attributed to another Daniels quality: He is simply an awful communicator.

Sorry, but this guy is clearly not ready for Prime Time.

Norwegian on May 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM

…Lindsey Grahamnesty might still jump in to send the GOP nomination into utter suckitude…or maybe..Charlie Crist? I hear he needs a job these days. Hur hur hur.

austinnelly on May 5, 2011 at 1:43 AM

Lindsay Graham is waiting for that ‘draft Graham’ groundswell to sweep the nation, then he’ll declare.

slickwillie2001 on May 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM

unseen to be seen soon.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 8:57 PM

I must admit your post is a good one! Ha!

Amjean on May 5, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Race don’t get “serious” till Sarah Palin declares. Sorry … it just won’t.

If the GOP thinks it’ll beat Obama with Mitch Daniels or Mittens Romney – they’re high on crack.

In 2008 – there was no such thing as an identified “Establishment” Republican. No such thing.

Today – the GOP is DIVIDED between the grassroots and the “establishment” – and we of the grassroots pretty much want to see the establishment guys get the boot.

G’head GOP – you nominate your “establishment” boy there – and you watch his candidacy in the general go UP in SMOKE!!

I know many folks who are willing to vote for OBAMA just to send a message to the GOP that the establishment needs to GO.

I am one of them!!

HondaV65 on May 5, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Which is right about where Palin is sitting in the latest NH polls…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

And where is The Donald in those same polls, pray tell? Does he seem “electable” to you?

alwaysfiredup on May 5, 2011 at 12:15 PM

But for the record, I have never voted Democrat. I realize to some, if you don’t bow down to Palin you’re a lib.

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Need a tissue?

alwaysfiredup on May 5, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Why would you want hamburger:Daniels, when you can have steak:Palin?

Badger40 on May 5, 2011 at 1:04 PM

JetBoy -

Just having a little fun. How’s the job search going?

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 1:08 PM

I know many folks who are willing to vote for OBAMA just to send a message to the GOP that the establishment needs to GO.

I am one of them!!

HondaV65 on May 5, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Just quit the party now and save everyone the hassle.

Bye, Obama voter.

swamp_yankee on May 5, 2011 at 1:41 PM

JetBoy -

Just having a little fun. How’s the job search going?

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 1:08 PM

;)

Got an awesome offer…but I would have to move to Florida in the next 6 weeks. Thinkin’ about it…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Got an awesome offer…but I would have to move to Florida in the next 6 weeks. Thinkin’ about it…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM

I bet you’re jumping up and down at the prospect of moving to Crist Country!!!

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 3:32 PM

but I would have to move to Florida in the next 6 weeks. Thinkin’ about it…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Congrats!
FL sounds wonderful, climate wise.
Hope everything works out for you!

Badger40 on May 5, 2011 at 3:57 PM

I don’t know, BHO’s comment that the presidency was not a good place for on the job training didn’t seem to hurt him even now when he is proving he was correct.

pgrossjr on May 5, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Is Daniels trying to nail his own coffin lid down?

I mean really, all you have to do is ask, “What would ObaMao do?” And then do exactly the opposite.

Slowburn on May 5, 2011 at 5:54 PM

;)

Got an awesome offer…but I would have to move to Florida in the next 6 weeks. Thinkin’ about it…

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Great news. You can move in with your buddy Charlie Crist. How do you look with orange skin?

bw222 on May 5, 2011 at 6:54 PM

…….not ready to debate the American Foreign Affairs Destruction machine?

…..Mitch you ain’t ready then.

I’ve said this before………..

We need a FEARLESS REAL Conservative, someone ready to go toe-to-toe with the Wrecking Ball in the White House.

Someone with Executive experience, and a track record of Success.

Someone with a Foreign policy plan/doctrine based on Reagan’s principles.

Someone that doesn’t believe in 10 year Wars that drain American treasure and blood.

Someone not afraid to call out the GOP for their shortcomings.

And we need a COMMUNICATOR, someone unashamed to TEACH CONSERVATIVE Principles (not RINOism).

Alas, no one is apparently running that fits that bill.

PappyD61 on May 5, 2011 at 6:56 PM

I’m not putting any faith in politicians anymore. All this stuff about looking for this politician or that to “fix” things is just another angle of looking for “government solutions” to our problems.

Our country will sink or swim on its own merits.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 5, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Any Republican in this political environment, thinking about running that is so ill prepared for questions at this level will never be ready for the Whitehouse or in the alternative will never get my vote for the Whitehouse but I appreciate your honesty there Mr. Daniels.

Tangerinesong on May 5, 2011 at 7:23 PM

I knew the Crist jokes would write themselves…

Thanks guys…got some thinking to do…I’m a NYC kinda guy, and it’s Boca I’d have to move to.

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Alas, no one is apparently running that fits that bill.

PappyD61 on May 5, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Did you forget a sarc tag there?

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Alas, no one is apparently running that fits that bill.

PappyD61 on May 5, 2011 at 6:56 PM
Did you forget a sarc tag there?

steebo77 on May 5, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Haven’t seen one yet. Still waiting.

PappyD61 on May 5, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Thanks guys…got some thinking to do…I’m a NYC kinda guy, and it’s Boca I’d have to move to.

JetBoy on May 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Heck, isn’t half of Boca NYC retirees? You’d feel right at home. And, with no state income tax you could buy more hats…Good luck

Gohawgs on May 5, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Haven’t seen one yet. Still waiting.

PappyD61 on May 5, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Not even Buddy Roemer?

steebo77 on May 6, 2011 at 8:01 AM

I saw 3 candidates I would vote for BEFORE Daniels last night. I just do not care if he runs or not at this point.

Freddy on May 6, 2011 at 3:14 PM

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