As a statement on the major domestic threats we face — our fiscal crisis more narrowly and the efforts to undermine self-government more broadly — the speech is superb. So is its tone. Civility and outreach are signs of strength rather than weakness. And the peroration reminds us that, in the words from the diary of John Adams, “Great things are wanted to be done.”
Some on the right have criticized the speech, arguing (a) it struck only one note and (b) “it makes no sense to sound disrespectful to political warriors like Rush Limbaugh who kept conservatism inspired during the last two years in the Obama/Reid/Pelosi wilderness.”
The speech itself was focused on the economy. But, of course, some speeches are devoted to a single topic, while others cover the landscape. Daniels used this speech to address our fiscal imbalance in depth rather than with banal talking points. That is, I think, a strength rather than a weakness.
As for the second charge, here is what Daniels said: “We must be the vanguard of recovery, but we cannot do it alone. We have learned in Indiana, big change requires big majorities. We will need people who never tune in to Rush or Glenn or Laura or Sean. Who surf past C-SPAN to get to SportsCenter. Who, if they’d ever heard of CPAC, would assume it was a cruise ship accessory.”
This hardly qualifies as disrespectful toward conservative talk radio, C-SPAN, or CPAC. Daniels’s point is that Republicans need to appeal to their base and reach beyond it, which has been the formula for political victory pretty much since the beginning of time.
I have no idea whether Daniels will run; and if he does, whether he would be the best nominee. But his CPAC speech, as a matter of substance and tone, was masterful.