Daniels Doubles Down

Last week, when writing about the Religous Right’s outrage over Gov. Mitch Daniels’ suggestion that we needed to call a “truce” in the culture wars in order to focus on bigger problems, I predicted that Daniels would respond by claiming that he had been taken out of context or that he point was being misinterpreted.

That shows how much I know, because Mark Hemingway reports that yesterday Daniels called him to assure him that he is entirely serious: 

Daniels called me to say that he’s dead serious about the need for the next president to declare a truce. “It wasn’t something I just blurted out,” he told me. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.”

He’s emphasized the need to focus like a laser beam on the existential threats facing the country — the two big issues he’s previously identified being the war on terror and the country’s precarious fiscal position. “We’re going to need a lot more than 50.1 percent of the country to come together to keep from becoming Greece,” he said.

He did, however, want to clarify that he’s not just singling out controversial social issues. “I’m talking about all divisive issues,” he said. Clear and unified priorities are the only way he sees the country rallying around common purposes.

When I pressed him, Daniels did seem to concede that perhaps he hadn’t taken into account how the D.C. media would respond to his remarks by playing up the controversy. But Daniels repeatedly affirmed that this is a serious governing proposal, not an electoral strategy or a case where a politician tells people what he thinks they want to hear.

I think it is pretty obvious that this is not some sort of “electoral strategy or a case where a politician tells people what he thinks they want to hear” because this is exactly the opposite of what the Religious Right wants to hear, which would be an absolutely horrible electoral strategy.