Mitch Daniels Rephrases His “Truce”

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Daniels’ national political presence has come to be defined by something he said to the Weekly Standard last June: Debt and deficits pose such a national danger, he argued, that everything else should take a backseat.  “[The next president] would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues,” he told Andrew Ferguson. “We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while.” Social conservatives, who otherwise would have few complaints about the governor’s record on, say, abortion, were incensed. He later explained that “we wouldn’t stop our disagreements or our passionate belief in these other questions, we just sort of mute them for a little while.”

Speaking Friday night at CPAC (which has its own history of creating tension between fiscal and social conservatives), Daniels came up with a new way of saying it:

Here I wish to be very plainspoken: It is up to us to show, specifically, the best way back to greatness, and to argue for it with all the passion of our patriotism. But, should the best way be blocked, while the enemy draws nearer, then someone will need to find the second best way. Or the third, because the nation’s survival requires it.

Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers. King Pyrrhus is remembered, but his nation disappeared. Winston Churchill set aside his lifetime loathing of Communism in order to fight World War II. Challenged as a hypocrite, he said that when the safety of Britain was at stake, his “conscience became a good girl.” We are at such a moment. I for one have no interest in standing in the wreckage of our Republic saying “I told you so” or “You should’ve done it my way.”