So Governor Daniels has decided to back down from pursuing the Indiana Commerce Connector and the Illiani Expressway. His reason? Public support just wasn’t there. Seems to me the public support wasn’t there last year for the leasing of the Indiana Tollroad or Daylight Saving Time either. But Daniels sure didn’t give two cents about public opinion then.
The reason is obvious. Last year the House and the Senate were controlled by Republicans, and Daniels pretty much had his way even if some effort was required. This year, the House is controlled by the Democrats and the Senate is controlled by the Republicans. Yes, indeed, what a difference a year makes. I bet the Guv is fuming inside.
Of course, his “gracious” acceptance of the lack of support for the tollroad projects may be an attempt to demonstrate that he actually cares about public opinion. He may also be easing into that “Aw Shucks” good-old-boy with the patches-on-the-elbow sweater routine that served him so well in his first campaign. He effectively manipulated and fooled the majority of the voters in 2004 and will probably try to do so again in 2008. Any Hoosier in his or her right mind should be chanting, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
Daniels’ purpose appears to be to use Indiana as an experiement in privatization and as a possible springboard to a senatorial position if and when Senator Lugar retires. So, who is Mitch Daniels? Daniels moved to Indiana in 1959 at the age of 10. He finished high school at Indianapolis North Central and then skidaddled out of Indiana in what would become a history of non-residency. His post-high school college years were spent at Princeton where he received a deferment from military service, completing his degree in 1971.
He then returned to Indiana and joined Richard Lugar’s re-election campaign, later becoming Lugar’s principal assistant. When Lugar was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, Daniels followed him to Washington, D.C. where he worked in various positions until 1987. He then returned to private life accepting a position with the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, in Indianapolis. In 1990, he joined the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical giant and rose in management to become senior vice president of corporate strategy and policy.
However, his days of absenteeism from Indiana were not over yet; in 2001 he became Director of the Office of Management and Budget. His 29-month tenure in that position oversaw a $236 billion dollar surplus turn into a $400 billion dollar deficit. Obviously his management of the office wasn’t much better than his prediction of the potential cost of the Iraqi War, telling The New York Times in an interview in 2003 that such a conflict with Iraq could cost $50 billion to $60 billion. The cost as of today is approaching $415,000,000,000 – just a slight miscalculation. After the budgetary fiasco, Daniels returned to Indiana in 2003 to plan his run for the governor’s office.
Armed with a pseudo-Hoosier persona, Daniels traveled the state in a white RV wearing plaid flannel shirts and getting “down” with the average folk. Staying at the homes of devoted Republicans, Daniels traversed the state in the RV visiting each county two or three times. What a shock his supporters must have had when the day after the election, he morphed into the well-heeled businessman that he so successfully hid during his campaign. And the surprises kept coming as he swiftly moved forward with his plan to privatize what ever stood in his way.
Mitch Daniels is just about to turn 58, and, of those 58 years, he has lived in Indiana 30 years – about 50% of the time. Imagine if employees tried to argue that 50% attendance was good enough for the workplace.
His positions with Eli Lilly surely did not afford him the opportunity to rub elbows with the average Hoosier, and his wealth, estimated at over $15,000,000, puts him at a distance from most Hoosier families even today.
His disdain toward our Hoosier heritage is clearly reflected in his refusal to live in the Governor’s mansion. He now has his Lawrence Township home up for sale, and the family’s new home has been under construction in the exclusive and gated Laurelwood community near 106th Street and Spring Mill Road in Hamilton County. Apparently he has decided to move the family to Carmel to a home “big enough for grandchildren.”
In 2008, we will again go to the polls to elect a governor. If Mitch Daniels chooses to run again, let’s hope that Hoosiers have learned their lessons, and the “My Man Mitch” slogan falls to the wayside and a “Not My Man Mitch” chant is heard loud and clear across the Hoosier state.