Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels, who gave the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, represents all too well the sad decline of the national Republican Party. As suggested by the Twitter hashtag #MitchFail, Daniels was an improbably bad choice to represent a party already facing questions about its commitment to the 99 percent. (Feel free to post a message to Daniels at his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/mymanmitchfans .)
In his rebuttal, Daniels had the audacity to claim the mantle of people’s champion—this from the man who said he was against the “right to work” for less before he was pushing it armed with lies and ruthlessly anti-democratic tactics. This from the political party fighting Obama’s plan to address the deficit by raising taxes on retired financiers like Mitt Romney, who pay less in taxes than most firefighters, bricklayers, teachers and nurses.
Inconsistency and numbers not adding up is nothing new for Daniels, who failed miserably as George W. Bush’s budget director for the first 2.5 years of Bush’s presidency, which had massive tax cuts for the rich as its No. 1 domestic priority. And Daniels’ concern for working people is more than a little bit ironic in light of his record as governor of Indiana, which has included taking away the right in 2005 of public employees to collectively bargain.
Today, Daniels has entered the national stage as an angry opponent of workers acting collectively. He may have seemed mild-mannered in a speech well-received by right-wing pundits, but that manner is belied by his efforts to shut down the basic institutions of democracy in Indiana. Daniels, a lame-duck governor who seems to be spending a lot more time thinking about Washington than about getting Hoosiers back to work, ought to follow the lead of President Obama and listen to working people rather than CEOs.