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R.I.P. President Daniels

Mitch Daniels has not yet declared that he will run for the Republican nomination for president. In truth, he is an unlikely nominee, despite the half-hearted cheerleading he has enjoyed from the likes of Fox News and National Review, who appear to have latched onto him in lieu of their first love, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. It has been reported that the Bush family is supporting the current Indiana governor and former budget director for the Bush 43 White House, presumably because they understand that neither the nation nor the party has any appetite for a third President Bush – this time Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – after the debacles over which his father and his brother presided.

The second choice of even his most notable supporters, Daniels has more than a few strikes against him as a potential Republican nominee. At 5’6″, he is short, his officially reported height of 5’7″ notwithstanding. He is balding, which has historically been a problem for any would-be president who doesn’t happen to be a war hero. (One unanticipated side effect of women’s suffrage has been the elimination of testosterone from the White House, which may explain why America hasn’t declared or won a war since World War II.) And he is the governor of Indiana, which means that he brings all of 11 electoral votes to the table.

On the other hand, he has the intense personal charisma one would expect of an accountant-turned-government bureaucrat. And while he doesn’t have the heavy personal and political baggage of Captain Underoos, Mitt Romney, he does have an awkward marital history which involved his wife leaving him for three years before returning and remarrying him. While one can’t reasonably hold his wife’s past behavior against the man, the hard fact is that Americans tend to prefer leaders who are alpha adulterers like Kennedy and Clinton to beta cuckolds.

By all accounts, Mitch Daniels has been a decent governor. Despite being hit hard by the economic recession, Indiana avoided the greater part of the housing bubble and its budget deficit is one-tenth the size of the national average. Daniels has clearly done a better job as Indiana’s de facto budget director than he did as George W. Bush’s. A nation facing the sort of economic problems presently plaguing the United States could certainly do worse than have a financial rationalist like Daniels at the helm, in fact, it already is.

However, what ultimately dooms Daniels is not his height, his hair, his history or his geographic location. It’s not even his suspected distaste for issues dear to the hearts of social conservatives sparked by his talk of a “truce” on them. What has rendered him unelectable, and possibly unfit for the governor’s office he now holds, is a recent decision by the Indiana Supreme Court, with the majority opinion written by Daniels’s sole nominee.

“Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes. In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.

“We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,” David said. “We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest.”

Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home, May 13, 2011

This horrific decision by the Indiana judges means that Americans, or at least Americans who happen to be living in Indiana, have fewer rights than medieval Englishmen. The decision isn’t merely incorrect, it is a grotesque insult to the Fourth Amendment, to the United States Constitution, to the American Revolution, indeed, to the very concept of America itself. America is not a police state, and it is a travesty to claim that a nation born in violence against the legally constituted authorities does not have a right to resist them in their own homes.

And Daniels has thus far remained silent on the issue, when anything short of an abject apology for David’s appointment combined with a demand for David’s immediate resignation, and the resignation of the other two judges who sided with David, is absolutely necessary for him to remain a credible governor, let alone a president. And even if he does do as he must, the Indiana court decision raises serious questions about what sort of appointments Daniels would make in the unlikely event he were to find himself in the White House.

Ron Paul aside, the present slate of potential Republican candidates is an insipid and uninspiring collection of political hacks. But unless he acts swiftly to end his judicial appointee’s attack on both the U.S. Constitution and the common law, Daniels will have demonstrated himself to be easily the worst of a bad lot.

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