I want to wend a virtuous middle ground on the subject of Mitch Daniels’ proposed stimulus plan as outlined in the Wall Street Journal. The plan, as described by Daniels, is very much the concatenation of vagueness and bad math that Jon Chait says it is and wholly unworthy of the kind of praise Ezra Klein heaped on it initially. But as Klein argues that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be effective stimulus relative to the policy status quo, and viewed in that light much is forgivable.
But of course there’s an issue here about what light in which to understand Daniels’ proposal. I once read a great book called Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In and everything about Daniels’ rhetoric and behavior suggests a guy who is not trying to get to yes. Even when he did a Q&A with liberal pundit Ezra Klein what he’s doing is trying to position himself as a prominent critic of the Obama administration, not to persuade liberals to join him in an economic stimulus push.
Which is fine. It’s no secret that Daniels is a possible presidential contender, and you don’t campaign for the White House by operating as a constructive partner with the incumbent president of the opposite party. What’s more, the whole episode has bolstered my sense that whatever you think of Daniels he’d be a better president than Sarah Palin so all else being equal I’ll wish him well.