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January 24, 2012

Mitch Daniels preview*
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

So rumors are flying around the interwebs that Mitch Daniels' response to the State of the Union is "partisan and nasty." That'll be funny, given Daniels' record on the national security issues that bookend the speech:

Eight months ago, the Post's Jennifer Rubin found his conservatism wanting:

On foreign policy, he said that he’s a “water’s edge” kind of guy. He is sure that the President is in a position to know a lot more about what’s needed in Afghanistan than he is. He said he didn’t think Obama had “made the case” for the Libya intervention, though this doesn’t mean there is no case. Pressed to say something critical about Obama’s foreign policy, he said that he was “uncomfortable” with the President’s “apology tours.” But he didn’t look comfortable saying it.

Jamie Rubin asked him a clever question, right out of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”: if he had just one phone call to make about some foreign policy issue and he could call either Richard Lugar or John McCain, which would it be? After a little hemming and hawing, he said that he is “always comfortable” talking with Lugar...That’d be strike three. Relying on the Senate Republican most despised by the conservative base (who’s sure to be primaried) and who has run interference for President Obama on foreign policy issues such as START and a Russian reset will set alarm bells ringing on the right. If personnel is policy, then a Daniels administration would seem to be to the left of George H.W. Bush.

Will he like Obama's call for tougher trade enforcement?  As governor, he signed $350 million of trade deals with China, but the Washington Post reports that his forthcoming book foresees a "horror movie-like" war scenario with China, in which China cuts off financing and chaos ensues in the US -- then, as a bonus, China invades Taiwan.

The same chapter agonizes about how we are now "borrowing our entire defense budget from China." Will he support the president's pledge to cut half a billion dollars from the defense budget?

Finally, Daniels - who has Syrian heritage (yeah, bet you'd forgotten that) - accepted an award from the Arab-American Institute last year and spoke movingly about his support for the Arab Spring:

Now I am so proud that brave Syrians have stepped forward, as their Egyptian and Tunisian and other counterparts have — and against, apparently, brutal threats and repressions — have stood up for the right to dream.

At the timel, conservatives called him to task for expressing too much sympathy for the Arab cause, with some alleging that he might be, by their lights, insufficiently pro-Israel. Will he disagree with the similar sentiments Obama expresses in tonight's State of the Union?

Should be fun.

*With thanks to NSN's superstar intern Ian Byrne for researching this post.


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