DYCHE | A Daniels-Rice 2016 Republican Dream Ticket
John David Dyche
By John David Dyche WDRB Contributor
If this columnist could select the next President and Vice President they would be former two-term Indiana governor and current president of Purdue University Mitch Daniels in the top spot and former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State and current Stanford University professor Condoleezza Rice in the second spot.
Daniels and Rice would make a great team and are eminently qualified by talent, experience, and every other relevant factor to run the country. Each of them has been talked about as a candidate in the past, but neither has opted to actually run, perhaps because the current campaign process is too long, too expensive, and not necessarily well-suited to producing the best presidential product.
Many Republicans thought the brainy, but down-to-earth and self-deprecating Daniels would have been the perfect foe for the narcissistic and solipsistic Barack Obama in 2012. But Daniels opted against making the race, and many said it was because his wife was opposed.
Daniels has it all. With a bachelor's degree from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a law degree from Georgetown University, his academic pedigree is impeccable.
Having been CEO of the Hudson Institute and President of Eli Lilly's North American Pharmaceutical Operations, Daniels has the business experience Obama so obviously lacks. He also boasts experience in both the legislative and executive branches in Washington.
Daniels served as Chief of Staff to Senator Richard Lugar, Senior Advisor to President Ronald Reagan, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. This last position would be particularly useful at a time when American faces an $18 trillion debt.
His tenure leading Indiana was extremely successful, and his reelection campaign commercials revealed a funny, normal guy from the American Midwest to whom regular people could easily relate. Daniels has both a keen intellect and abundant common sense, a combination that has been somewhat lacking in the oval office so far this century.
The country cries out for a proven chief executive with experience in the private sector and state government after the nightmare of an inexperienced U.S. Senator with absolutely no administrative experience like Obama. We simply cannot afford another candidate who, like was often said of Obama, "has never even run a Dairy Queen."
Rice would bring balance to the ticket in practically every important respect. Some ways are obvious, but nonetheless significant, like her being an extraordinarily accomplished African-American female from California by way of the South with a background and interests – ranging from classical piano to football – that ordinary Americans can admire and relate to.
Other ways are less apparent, but no less critical. For example, Rice is an expert on Russia, which is resurgent and threatening right now. She was also forced by circumstances to become an expert on Islamic terrorism and the Middle East, and the fact that she may have made some mistakes along the way should not disqualify her. Intelligent people like Rice learn from experience, especially when they have had some time to reflect on it.
Although they are solid center-right conservatives, neither Daniels nor Rice is scary to electorally essential independents and moderates the way some other Republicans are. He catches some flak for having called for a temporary "truce" on social issues, while she gets heat for being "mildly pro-choice" on abortion, but both would be in favor of a federalist approach that gives states a lot of leeway as experimental policy laboratories in dealing with hot button topics.
It is hard to say with any confidence whether the American political system is producing the best candidates for the country's highest and most powerful offices. It is obvious and unfortunate, however, that some of the best potential leaders like Daniels and Rice are deciding against seeking those offices.
There was a time in the American past when aggressive campaigning for the presidency was considered unseemly, and expressing too ardent a desire for that office was deemed a de facto disqualification for it. Now contenders mount almost two-year crusades for the post and practically surrender their humanity in pursuit of it.
The old, original constitutional system in which electors exercised independent judgment in voting for the person they believed best-suited for the presidency certainly had its good points. Now the masses must pick from those who survive an often irrational and unseemly endurance test.
Progress is not always improvement. There are some good Republican candidates for 2016, but Daniels and Rice would be a GOP dream ticket.
(John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.)