Mitch Daniels only appears to be less scary than those other wingnuts

But the Indiana governor is following a well-written playbook. A dozen years ago, George W. Bush (for whom Daniels later worked as White House budget director) campaigned for the GOP presidential nomination as a different kind of Republican, a “compassionate conservative” motivated principally by concern for poor black kids and public schools.

In the end, most of that turned out to be hooey; Bush was very much a conventional conservative. Daniels, likewise, is no bleeding heart — but he is demonstrating himself to be a shrewd tactician. At a time when Republican voters are disenchanted with their presidential choices, and the existing candidates are marginalizing themselves by campaigning on abortion, homosexuality and birth certificates, not-yet-candidate Daniels looks like a grown-up…

So funny, so folksy, and so friendly to the disadvantaged: It is eerily similar to how another Republican governor presented himself to America a dozen springs ago.