Which GOP frontrunner passes the cap-and-trade purity test?

posted at 12:55 pm on May 11, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

All right, I confess … this race doesn’t really have any fronrunners, does it?  Let’s define this more carefully.  Of the Republican candidates who get the most serious consideration for a presidential bid at this stage of the race, who is the only one not to have supported (or at least flirted with) cap and trade?  According to Dave Weigel, it’s Mitch Daniels:

One of the conventional wisdoms of presidential campaigns is that governors are better candidates than senators; they’ve got executive experience! The downside of that experience, when it comes to an issue like this, is that governing is hard; compromises have to be made; ideas that sound good, and that advisers recommend, get tried out even if a conservative think tank says they’re rotten. Even Sarah Palin created a subcabinet study group on carbon that we’re going to hear about if she runs. (At the time, like most subcabinet study groups, it generated no news.) Is GOP dream candidate Chris Christie safe? Nope; New Jersey’s part of RGGI, too, and only now is he talking about pulling out of it.

Gingrich’s flirtation with cap and trade (and, yes, everyone on this list can say he supported a different version that wouldn’t have Killed American Jobs, like the version that actually passed the House) is probably best explained as one of the many ideas he has found interesting for a while, then moved on from. A cynic might ask if he stopped talking about it because his organizations started taking in huge donations from the energy industry. But the change of heart put him in line with the new conservative orthodoxy on this issue.

Want to guess which potential Republican candidate looks ready to pass the pH test on this? Mitch Daniels. In early 2009, when the issue was ill-defined, he was already arguing against it. That’s a nice arrow in the quiver the next time he’s asked about the “social truce.”

Actually, I’d put Palin in the same category as Daniels, or at least close to it, on the basis Dave uses here.  Asking for a subcommittee study is as significant as a “listening tour” in terms of announced policy.  Palin will have more trouble on this issue dealing with her partnership for C&T advocate John McCain in the 2008 election than she will in explaining a request for a “study group” on carbon.  Like most of the other candidates mentioned by Dave, Palin has had to distance herself from a position, but it’s easier to distance herself from her former running mate’s position on cap-and-trade than distancing one’s self from one’s own positions.

Daniels will most assuredly not have that problem.  While other Republicans flirted with C&T, Daniels forcefully campaigned against it as “imperialism” of the more populous states, specifically in response to the Waxman-Markey bill that ended up dying in the 111th Session of Congress (which I noted two years ago):

Quite simply, it looks like imperialism. This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers — California, Massachusetts and New York — seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies. Because proceeds from their new taxes, levied mostly on us, will be spent on their social programs while negatively impacting our economy, we Hoosiers decline to submit meekly.

The Waxman-Markey legislation would more than double electricity bills in Indiana. Years of reform in taxation, regulation and infrastructure-building would be largely erased at a stroke. In recent years, Indiana has led the nation in capturing international investment, repatriating dollars spent on foreign goods or oil and employing Americans with them. Waxman-Markey seems designed to reverse that flow. “Closed: Gone to China” signs would cover Indiana’s stores and factories.

Our state’s share of national income has been slipping for decades, but it is offset in part by living costs some 8% lower than the national average. Doubled utility bills for low-income Hoosiers would be an especially cruel consequence of the Waxman bill. Forgive us for not being impressed at danglings of welfare-like repayments to some of those still employed, with some fraction of the dollars extracted from our state.

And for what? No honest estimate pretends to suggest that a U.S. cap-and-trade regime will move the world’s thermometer by so much as a tenth of a degree a half century from now. My fellow citizens are being ordered to accept impoverishment for a policy that won’t save a single polar bear.

Tim Pawlenty has done a good job in admitting fault and changing his position.  Other candidates have been less forthcoming on their C&T flirtations.  If the 2012 primary is fought on the basis of economics and government control, Daniels can legitimately claim to have been far ahead of the curve in the Republican field.  But first, of course, Daniels has to decide whether he’s running at all.  If not, Republicans will have to choose among candidates who offer the best explanation for seeing the light.

Update: By 2009, Palin was actively opposing cap and trade, as she did in this 2009 Washington Post essay.


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In other words, did you know who Daniels was before the punditocracy started pimping him? Or are you just playing follow the leader?

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Oh, sure…I certainly have a history of playing “follow the leader”…yeah, right.

I claimed my support for Daniels before his name started getting thrown around as a possibility, if that’s what you’re asking. Much like I supported Fred Thompson long before anyone even thought of him as a possibility (FWIW).

One thing no one can call me is a bandwagoner.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Why give that a-hole attention?

the_nile on May 11, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Ed’s favorite BFF liberal blogger. Pathetic.

Jaibones on May 11, 2011 at 3:04 PM

I’m not opposed to Daniels. I just don’t know him well enough yet.

And as far as I’m concerned no warmists need apply, period.

JEM on May 11, 2011 at 3:06 PM

I claimed my support for Daniels before his name started getting thrown around as a possibility, if that’s what you’re asking.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Link to it and I’ll compare it with the date of, say, Ferguson’s piece on Daniels in TWS.

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

JetBoy – I’d have liked to see Teh Fred want it badly enough to run, but he didn’t.

JEM on May 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

We Palin supporters are quite familiar with it. Welcome to our world.

Well, most Palin fans that I have seen don’t attack another politicians family, and neither does she.

If Daniels is electable, then I don’t see how ANYone can be called unelectable. Agreed?

No. Trump is unelectable. People know who he is, and his birther ploy blew up in his face.

On the other hand, Daniels polls at low numbers right now, just like Clinton did throughout 1991, not because people have formed an opinion against him, but because, beyond the State of Indiana and a limited number of political junkies, no one knows who might run or is even thinking about next year’s election.

Bru on May 11, 2011 at 3:11 PM

While Obama has been proven to be all sizzle and no steak, we have to be careful not to overcompensate with a candidate who is all hamburger and no sizzle.
Fallon on May 11, 2011 at 2:02 PM
Never heard it put so…deliciously…
Daniels has sizzle, and he’s no ground chuck. I don’t care if a candidate has all the bells and whistles, it’s about substance, not style.
JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 2:05 PM

Like it or not, it matters in the voting booth.

NoLeftTurn on May 11, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Link to it and I’ll compare it with the date of, say, Ferguson’s piece on Daniels in TWS.

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

How the heck am I supposed to find it? Why would I lie about it anyway, what’s to gain?

If you’re talking of that Weekly Standard article from last Summer, no…it hasn’t been that long. But I hadn’t read that article when I made my choice of Daniels. I researched many possible candidates, and liked what I saw in Gov. Daniels.

I certainly don’t agree with him on everything…especially his stance on gay marriage…but as usual, his record of achievement speaks for itself.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:13 PM

JetBoy – I’d have liked to see Teh Fred want it badly enough to run, but he didn’t.

JEM on May 11, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Yep. No fire in his belly. His heart wasn’t in it.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:16 PM

If you’re talking of that Weekly Standard article from last Summer, no…it hasn’t been that long. But I hadn’t read that article when I made my choice of Daniels.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Well, it works like this. TWS publishes Ferguson piece on Daniels as potential GOP nominee. Buzz is created on Daniels in light of Romney’s vulnerability on health care (N.B. I think the Daniels piece was published in June 2010 — a couple of months or so after ObamaCare passed). JetBoy feels the pundit-created Daniels buzz leaching into him. JetBoy becomes Daniels fan.

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 3:17 PM

And for all those saying Daniels lacks charisma and style…I hereby nominate THIS as his campaign theme song.

JetBoy feels the pundit-created Daniels buzz leaching into him. JetBoy becomes Daniels fan.

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 3:17 PM

On the contrary…I hadn’t read/heard much of this “buzz” when I made my choice. Don’t know what else to tell you. I chose Daniels based on my own research, not because of any “buzz”.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:26 PM

RE: Daniels’ CPAC speech.

I just viewed it on Youtube. Now I remember why I didn’t remember it. The speech as far as it went was fine. A call for fiscal responsibility, lots of rock solid fiscal conservative platitudes and principles, no specifics on what he would do or how to get wherever it is he would take us. Sizzle? Not where I come from. The delivery was ok, but mostly flat. The audience reaction was ok. They approved, but I didn’t hear any thunderous cheering, no standing ovation (did I miss it?) etc. Honestly, Daniels is NOT and inspirational figure. If Daniels is what Indianans think of as guy with fire in the belly, I dare say Indianans need a testosterone check. Call Barry Bonds, he’s got some overstock ‘vitamins’ and ‘body lotions’ for sale… cheap. Sorry, but no sale on Daniels. Plus, Carl Rove thinks Daniels would be swell. That to me is the kiss of death because it means Daniels is part of the Rockefeller Country Club, regardless of anything he did in Indiana.

JimP on May 11, 2011 at 3:28 PM

I have watched Daniels for some time, ever since I heard his name being mentioned on the topic of a possible presidential run. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he gives me an uneasy feeling that has only grown. Granted, he’d be a lot better than Obama, but he has the feel to me of a squishy moderate.

I’d rather have someone else to vote for. On the other hand, if he becomes the GOP nominee, I’ll vote for him without question because the alternative is another 4 year nightmare under Obama. I truly think the country can’t survive that.

hachiban on May 11, 2011 at 3:33 PM

On the contrary…I hadn’t read/heard much of this “buzz” when I made my choice. Don’t know what else to tell you. I chose Daniels based on my own research, not because of any “buzz”.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Really? So how did you happen to choose Daniels to research? Throwing darts at a board of Republican governors?

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 3:56 PM

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he gives me an uneasy feeling that has only grown. Granted, he’d be a lot better than Obama, but he has the feel to me of a squishy moderate.

I’d rather have someone else to vote for. On the other hand, if he becomes the GOP nominee, I’ll vote for him without question because the alternative is another 4 year nightmare under Obama. I truly think the country can’t survive that.
hachiban on May 11, 2011 at 3:33 PM

That about sums it up for me.

IUnknown on May 11, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Really? So how did you happen to choose Daniels to research? Throwing darts at a board of Republican governors?

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 3:56 PM

It was probably THIS piece from RCP that got me taking a closer look.

I don’t quite understand your fascination with the how’s, where’s and why’s of my support for Daniels. But I’m flattered you care so much.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 4:22 PM

who is the only one not to have supported (or at least flirted with) cap and trade? …it’s Mitch Daniels

Perhaps worse was Daniels in a September profile in Newsweek, in which he said tax increases might be necessary to tackle the federal deficit. “At some stage, there could well be a tax increase,” Daniels told the magazine. “They say we can’t have grown-up conversations. I think we can.”

No Thanks!

RJL on May 11, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Daniels told the magazine. “They say we can’t have grown-up conversations. I think we can.”

RJL on May 11, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Why is it that the little people are always the ones lecturing others about being “grown-up?”

steebo77 on May 11, 2011 at 4:37 PM

How many people here, and across the nation, would vote for Daniels over Obama?

hawksruleva on May 11, 2011 at 4:47 PM

point to daniels

unseen on May 11, 2011 at 4:58 PM

point to daniels

unseen on May 11, 2011 at 4:58 PM

*faints*

OK, where is unseen and what have you done with him?!?

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 5:15 PM

hawksruleva on May 11, 2011 at 4:47 PM

The election will be a referendum on PBHO IF the GOP candidate is acceptable to the general electorate. As long as we keep it on those terms and not nominate someone who has strong negatives to too many people we win. The one thing we can’t do is nominate a Christine O’Donnell or Joe Miller type who is so awful he/she couldn’t beat an opponent on life support.

MJBrutus on May 11, 2011 at 5:16 PM

The one thing we can’t do is nominate a Christine O’Donnell…

MJBrutus on May 11, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Or a Mike Castle who couldn’t even get out of the primary.

I don’t quite understand your fascination with the how’s, where’s and why’s of my support for Daniels. But I’m flattered you care so much.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Just showing how you hopped on a bandwagon. Daniels isn’t some spontaneous grassroots thing.

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 5:21 PM

How many people here, and across the nation, would vote for Daniels over Obama?

hawksruleva on May 11, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Probably fewer that voted for McCain over Obama.

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Mitch Daniels is not a charismatic or anything resembling an exciting candidate. Daniels is of the Bush school of politics so if people want more of the same they can line up for Daniels. Except Daniels isn’t going to be accused of being a cowboy so what will be his distinctive selling point?

Dr Evil on May 11, 2011 at 1:10 PM

This and many other comments comparing the two are plain silly. The only thing they have in common is being mellow. Bush, his brother and his father are/were are all RINOs. Daniels is a conservative.

Jetboy, I have not bothered supporting my choices on HotAir because I thought it wasn’t worth the trouble: Allahpundit keeps reminding us that Daniels isn’t a conservative.

burt on May 11, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Just showing how you hopped on a bandwagon. Daniels isn’t some spontaneous grassroots thing.

pseudoforce on May 11, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Oh, brother. If that’s what you want to believe, have at it.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 5:28 PM

Jetboy, I have not bothered supporting my choices on HotAir because I thought it wasn’t worth the trouble: Allahpundit keeps reminding us that Daniels isn’t a conservative.

burt on May 11, 2011 at 5:27 PM

I dunno…Allah’s mostly just playin’, but he certainly doesn’t seem like a “Danielsnista” for sure.

It kills me that anyone could even suggest, like so many commenters here, that Daniels is some RINO and lacks conservative credentials.

Again, his record speaks for itself. And if anyone can’t derive his conservative fiscal and social positions from it…

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 5:32 PM

I can’t understand anyone who didn’t recognise that AGW is a scam ten or at least five years ago. That apparently includes a lot of people who I otherwise admire including Ed. I wonder what Daniels thoughts on the subject were in the past.

burt on May 11, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Yep. No fire in his belly. His heart wasn’t in it.

JetBoy on May 11, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Daniels is probably my top right now too. So this is good news… but I made the mistake of clicking on a “speech” he gave recently and it was so lame.

I wish I hadn’t seen how boring he could be. It really is making me not want to back him compleletly.

I guess I’m still waiting for that knight in shining armour.

Although… Pawlenty has had the guts to actually get in the race. I give him points for that.

petunia on May 11, 2011 at 5:49 PM

I can’t understand anyone who didn’t recognise that AGW is a scam ten or at least five years ago. That apparently includes a lot of people who I otherwise admire including Ed. I wonder what Daniels thoughts on the subject were in the past.

burt on May 11, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Read the thread… Cap and Trade is AGW… Daniels seems to be clean.

But what someone thought in the past is excusable as far as I’m concerned… because it was pushed so hard and the consequences of ignoring it sounded so dire. If you were in charge of making decisions for your state and you did nothing that is a concern really.

I don’t think governors had the luxury of waiting it out. You have to be pretty cynical to ignore the former VP telling you that the world is ending.

Now however, if they are still saying, Al Gore was right… that is a problem.

petunia on May 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

petunia on May 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

I have read the thread. Now you read my comment. I am writing about at least five and preferably ten years ago.

burt on May 11, 2011 at 6:29 PM

Actually, I’d put Palin in the same category as Daniels, or at least close to it, on the basis Dave uses here.

Then why not throw in Pawlenty too? He “studied” it too.

AshleyTKing on May 11, 2011 at 8:14 PM

True reform—not pandering to the base—established Palin’s broad popularity in Alaska.

DannoJyd on May 11, 2011 at 8:24 PM

But Danno, that support is not there today.

AshleyTKing on May 11, 2011 at 8:57 PM

AshleyTKing on May 11, 2011 at 8:57 PM

There remains enough support for Sarah across America [have you seen the Hot Air Poll?]to give her the start she needs, and enough so that she could capitalize on that so as to cause it to balloon.

All America needs is enough people willing to do the actual research on her instead of relying on the 0bamaGanda Media to give us the Government we all desire. ;o)

DannoJyd on May 11, 2011 at 9:10 PM

…it was pushed so hard and the consequences of ignoring it sounded so dire. If you were in charge of making decisions for your state and you did nothing that is a concern really.

petunia on May 11, 2011 at 5:55 PM

That’s exactly the problem. The Democrat media is going to be pushing liberal policies and ideology every minute of every day. Our guy has to be strong enough to say that’s BS plain, pure and simple. Surrendering to the Democrat media is not an option.
If he can’t stand up to the Democrat media, he might as well be a Democrat. That’s why Sarah Palin is so loved, she fights!

RJL on May 11, 2011 at 9:31 PM

I don’t know about ‘sizzle’ or ‘charisma’, but I do remember that when Ronald Reagan sat down for an interview, he was compelling. Not just because he had been a broadcaster, and an actor, but because of the confidence in his voice, the quality of his thought—and the twinkle in his eye.

I don’t see that in the few interviews I’ve seen Gov. Daniels give. I expect he’s a good deal smarter than our Puppet President, and vastly more conservative, but that’s damning with faint praise. We need a candidate who will command both attention and respect, just by opening his mouth.

I don’t see that candidate yet. Surprisingly, the one who comes closest might be Rudy Guiliani. I’ve yet to see or hear an interview with him when I didn’t come away thinking, “I really like this guy!”

And BTW, the problem with a VAT is that, unlike a retail sales tax, it’s a stealth tax: you don’t see it. That’s anathema to me.

/Mr Lynn

MrLynn on May 11, 2011 at 10:37 PM

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