Commentary Magazine


The Media Demand that Daniels Take Their Test

Gov. Mitch Daniels will decide today whether to sign a bill cutting off public funding from Planned Parenthood, which would make Indiana the first state in the union to do so. Some media outlets are dubbing his decision a test of Daniels’s proposed “truce” on social conservative issues.

Here’s how the media-administered test works. If Daniels signs the bill he will be “breaking” his so-called truce. But if he vetoes the bill he will face the wrath of social conservatives and widen the “divide” in the conservative movement. It’s a lose-lose situation, conveniently arranged by the same media that are always prepared to trip up conservative politicians.

“It’s a tough line to walk for Daniels, who, as a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, needs to prove his conservative chops,” writes TPM Muckraker. “He’s faced heated criticism on the right for calling for a ‘truce’ on social issues and suggesting lawmakers focus on fiscal matters instead.”

Not to be a stickler or anything, but couldn’t public funding be characterized as a “fiscal matter”? The idea that this is a test for Daniels is more than slightly ridiculous, and he shouldn’t—he probably won’t—let it influence his decision. Defunding Planned Parenthood has been a goal of small-government conservatives for quite awhile, and they would be just as disappointed as values voters if Daniels vetoes the bill.

There is no reason for Daniels even to give the socially conservative argument for stripping Planned Parenthood’s funding. He need merely repeat what he told Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard last June: “I want citizens to understand,” he said. “When people start demanding we spend more money, they’re saying, ‘We want to raise your taxes.’ And the citizens should say, ‘Okay, tell me. Which one of my taxes do you want to raise?’ ” Liberals can then interpret his decision however they want.