Monday, March 1, 2010

Mitch Instead of Mitt?

Ross Douthat pushes Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to be the next Republican rising star.

He’s admired by elites, but unknown at the grass-roots level. He’s a social conservative, and his gubernatorial campaigns have played the populist card successfully — but he lacks the built-in constituencies of other candidates. And his years’ carrying water for the Bush administration’s budgets would doubtless be used against him in the battle for the Tea Partiers’ affections.

For a Daniels candidacy to catch fire, what’s left of the Republican establishment, currently (if reluctantly) coalescing around Mitt Romney, would have to decide that he’s the better pick. That would mean gambling that the best way to defeat the most charismatic president of modern times is to nominate a balding, wonky Midwesterner who reminds voters of their accountant.

Stranger things have happened.

Not really. In 1936 the Republicans nominated Kansas Governor Alf Landon to run against FDR. Mr. Landon was a fiscal conservative but not a firebreather; a moderate in an increasingly reactionary GOP. He lost in a landslide.