Mitch Daniels and the Dangers of Leaving the Horse Race

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 27 2011 12:31 PM

Mitch Daniels and the Dangers of Leaving the Horse Race

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks about his new book 'Keeping the Republic' during a discussion at the American Enterprise Institute on September 26, 2011 in Washington, DC. Gov. Daniels talked about Indiana's former deficit, fiscal restraint, and promoted private sector employment. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Too late, Mitch Daniels has learned one of the unfair rules of politics: Few people care about a politician's book unless he might run for president.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Here's how we know. In May, Daniels was letting conservatives think he might run for president. As Haley Barbour backed out of the race, Daniels appeared ready to fill a role: The Republican savior, credible to the base, joined at the wallet with wealthy donors. He agreed to a speech at the American Enterprise Institute. Reporters climbed over one another to get in. CNN:

Daniels to give closely watched DC speech.

Daniels to talk education in Washington, D.C.
Mitch Daniels, an alternative to scary
Daniels does AEI
Daniels Remains Coy About 2012

Yesterday, Daniels stopped at AEI again to talk about his new book and take questions. The media impact: One friendly story from AEI's magazine, The American. Too bad, because Daniels, a former director of OMB, tried to make some news. Asked about the tax goals of the supercommittee, he said that "you're gonna need more revenue," defying the Republican line that "we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem," and looking to a future wherein Americans paid reasonable taxes to fund a partially-privatized welfare state. He tried to make more news with my colleague John Dickerson.

In the Republican debate held in Ames, Iowa, in August, candidates were asked to raise their hands if they would oppose a long-term budget deal that included a 10-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. They all did (and Rick Perry, who wasn't yet in the race, later affirmed that he would have joined them). In an interview for CBS, I asked Daniels what he would have done. "I would not have raised my hand," he said.

But who's noticing? I am, but being pedantic about wonky Republicans is part of my job. The rest of the political-media complex has moved on, ready to read new runes from Chris Christie.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Dear Prudence
Sept. 22 2014 3:33 PM Killing With Kindness My in-laws want to throw me a get-well-from-cancer bash. There’s no way I can go.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.