Jen Rubin points to a Daniels 2009 video, where he opines about the necessity of avoiding wedge issues.
At one point Daniels says, “The whole concept of a wedge issue should be foreign to us if we really want to come back.” Coming off a very bad year, it is no great surprise that one of the party’s few electoral successes laid out a blue-print for a comeback. Nor is it much of surprise that the blue-print was conciliatory, not retaliatory. But this speech, coming before the truce comments, points to the Daniels style and, if his actions since are any indication, it’s a style he seems incapable of jettisoning. The real Mitch Daniels is conservative but not rigidly- or even ideologically- so and preternaturally averse to conflict. In a state setting, where folks care more about keeping the trains running then they do about bombast, this is a decided asset. At the national level, it looks like a fatal flaw. Here’s how Redstate’s Leon Wolf reacts:
I am not really sure what is wrong with Mitch Daniels. Two years ago, you would not have found a bigger Mitch Daniels booster in the United States than yours truly. He had bucked national trends to win an landslide re-election and was doing all the right things to demonstrate administrative competence, which is something our party badly needed to demonstrate after the last two years of the Bush administration…
So, as Republicans were gearing up for their biggest electoral victories in 16 years by fighting Obama and the Democrats tooth and nail on every aspect of their agenda, Mitch Daniels was telling everyone that the way to victory was to forget what a wedge issue even was, and just be nice so that people will like us again. Since then, Daniels has demonstrated that having a political tin ear in his case is a congenital defect rather than an isolated occurrence, telling social conservatives repeatedly to get to the back of the bus and indicating that he would pick Condi Rice – widely vilified as a miserable SecState by Republicans of all stripes – as his VP.
Mitch Daniels, by all accounts, was a very good governor of Indiana. By all those same accounts, he is very bad at understanding what it takes to build a coalition that could win a national election. In another candidate, this shortcoming would not necessarily be fatal. But let us face facts: Mitch Daniels is short, bald, and boring, and he is running against the Central Casting President…
Mitch Daniels has shown, again and again, that he has no understanding of how to build such [a political] army. Thankfully for the GOP, the people he is now busy alienating at every opportunity will be able to prevent him from having the opportunity to lose in a landslide to Obama.