The Politics Of Lip Service

Larison worries that Mitch Daniels' distaste for pandering will doom his campaign:

One thing that makes it harder to estimate the strength of a candidate for the nomination is the ease with which a relative handful of activists can effectively tar a candidate as compromised or tainted very early on. As we are seeing with the treatment of Mitch Daniels, activists from one faction or another will savage a broadly acceptable candidate with no obvious, serious liabilities simply because he does not give their issues the priority that they think he should.

This isn’t a matter of single-issue activists objecting to a candidate because of real disagreements on policy. No one can actually point to anything Daniels has said on foreign policy or social issues that would put him substantively at odds with the broad majority of Republicans, but social conservatives and foreign policy hawks interpret a lack of statements on their issues as something close to betrayal. Arguably, Daniels’ main weakness, if we want to call it that, is his consistent refusal to pander to these activists by talking up their issues.