I also believe Daniels would have been our best candidate in the general election. President Obama will not be easily defeated. He will have unprecedented resources at his disposal, a talented and experienced campaign staff, and his exceptional discipline as a campaigner. I’m also pretty certain he will continue to enjoy the advantage of a press corps that puts its finger on the scales for his benefit.
The election will be decided by independents. To my mind, Daniels, more than any other candidate, would be the Republican who most appealed to them, even those hard-to-motivate independents who are not quite completely apathetic but often despair of any politician ever being on the level; independents like my nephew, who described his politics on his Facebook page as “Whatever, just fix it.”
Mitch Daniels, with his record of fixing things, and his evident authenticity and understated appeal as a retail politician, would have been a candidate for people like him. Daniels reminds me of the civic leaders of the mid-20th century Midwest I grew up around. Undemonstrative grown-ups, confident and dutiful, they seldom refused a public task, and never expected much acknowledgement.
But Daniels isn’t running, and there isn’t much to be gained from lamenting that fact except for a few regrets that can teach us a useful lesson or two.