Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was met with furnace-hot anger from social conservatives over the weekend when he made the altogether modest suggestion for a "truce"—that Republicans running for president in 2012 should suspend campaigns built around incendiary issues of abortion, gay marriage and "family values."
Pennsylvania's former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, one of those attacking Daniels, insists that reigniting the old controversies "shows there are some people who are willing to stand up and fight for the family. ..." A winning strategy? I'll bet not.
(Newt Gingrich is cool to moralizing: The thrice-married, serial adulterer says he prefers to be judged on his policies, not his personal conduct, understandably!)
A return to the "family values" wars, of course, contradicts the current GOP theme of "get government out of our lives." The exception seems to be getting government back into meddling with personal issues of sex.
If Gov. Daniels, one of the few Republican adult thinkers concerned about tackling the nation's practical problems, is considered an outcast among conservatives who seem to control the party's candidate selection, then voters devoted to making President Obama a one-term president could have a very sorry choice in Republicans.
Do any of the social conservatives have any expertise or concerns beyond banning gay marriage, banning abortions and saddling the country with "family values" policies? Could any of them handle the proverbial 3 a.m. telephone crisis call demanding the president's decisions and immediate attention?
Other than carping that President Obama is not up to the job (or still, ad nauseum, challenging his birthplace), popular GOP figures have yet to share any reassuring or mature ideas about the drip-drip-drip of emergencies President Obama has been facing.
Try to picture any of the social conservatives—Palin, Huckabee, Santorum, Bachmann, et al.—conferring with NATO and United Nations members on dealing with Libya's Qaddafi; deciding with State and Defense secretaries on what forces to deploy to aid in the Japanese catastrophe; parrying budget deals with Congress; deciding on appointments to judgeships and ambassadorships; receiving heads of state from China and Mexico for diplomatic meetings as well as regal state dinners; fielding dozens of press conference questions requiring a command of data that flow into the Oval Office.
The presidency, with its awesome global responsibilities and cold realities, is no place for narrow-issue, evangelical Christian moralists whose agenda for rescuing fellow Americans from evil is better suited for church.