DOUG ROSS: Daniels trashes proposed truce on social issues

2011-05-06T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: Daniels trashes proposed truce on social issuesBy Doug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

Remember Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' proposed truce on social issues? Well, you can forget it now.

Daniels had proposed a truce on divisive social issues in order to focus on fiscal matters. But he dealt that truce a death blow last week when he said he supported and would sign legislation that blocked public funding for Planned Parenthood.

Everyone knows Planned Parenthood performs abortions. Not everyone knows the agency provides a number of other health services as well. And public money already doesn't fund abortions. So why attack Planned Parenthood?

Because Planned Parenthood represents liberalism, which is under attack in Indiana, even more so than the rest of the nation. All it takes is a look at the Indiana General Assembly's priorities this year to see that.

And you can bet the nation will begin looking at those accomplishments now that the nation's spotlight is finding Daniels.

Daniels has been working to raise his visibility before announcing whether he'll run for president in 2012. His wife has a high-profile speech planned for Thursday, so I won't be surprised if he announces his decision that day or beforehand. Even if he doesn't run, though, Daniels wants to put his imprint on the national Republican Party and its eventual nominee.

On Wednesday, Daniels gave an education speech at an American Enterprise Institute gathering at which the media waited to see whether Daniels finally would reveal his 2012 intentions.

Daniels touted his legislative successes on the education front, prompting Education Week blogger Michele McNeil to remark, "In fact, aside from vouchers, this agenda looks very much like the Obama administration's."

I've long pondered the irony of the Republicans dragging their feet on President Barack Obama's education agenda on the federal level while in Indiana it was just the opposite — the Democrats dug in their heels while Republicans pushed education reforms.

While education reform is the centerpiece of Daniels' legislative successes this year, it would not, and must not, be his primary goal in the Oval Office if he's elected.

The death of Osama bin Laden notwithstanding, putting the U.S. economy back on solid ground must be Job 1 for the next president.

Obama was scheduled to be in Indianapolis today to talk about the economy, and Daniels was scheduled to meet the president on the tarmac upon his arrival. That's good. We need to hear more about how to finish this economic turnaround.

Obama has accomplished much — to the conservatives' chagrin — in his first few years in office. He's got to tone that down in order to be elected, if I'm reading the pulse of the populace correctly.

Perhaps Obama will propose a social truce — putting the liberal agenda on the back burner while focusing on reviving the economy. Given the tumultuous Indiana General Assembly session just concluded a week ago, wouldn't that be ironic!

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or doug.ross@nwi.com. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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