Thursday, April 02, 2015

So Why Would Mitch Daniels Want To Take Down Mike Pence?

Eric Holcomb announcing his campaign to replace Sen. Dan Coats
The pieces of the puzzle are all coming together now. Former Indiana State GOP Chairman and close Mitch Daniels confidante' Eric Holcomb left his job as Sen. Dan Coats' chief of staff shortly before Coats announced he would not be seeking re-election in 2016 to get a head start on assembling a campaign to replace his former boss. Initially, there was no shortage of potential Republican candidates lining up for a possible bid to replace Coats, including several members of the congressional delegation. Susan Brooks, Todd Rokita, Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young all expressed an interest, along with State Sen. Mike Delph, who got put in the doghouse last year over the Senate leadership's handling of the heated marriage amendment debate last year. Then there was total silence.

It seems the powers that be are wanting Coats to resign from his Senate seat early, allowing Gov. Pence to appoint his replacement. There's one big hitch in that plan. Mitch Daniels wants his boy Holcomb to fill Coats' Senate seat. Holcomb, who lost the only campaign in which he was the candidate against a little-known state representative in Knox County, is a also a darling of the Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star, which as far as I can determine exists solely to write press releases for Daniels and whatever is the flavor of the day for the rest of the bipartisan organized crime syndicate that runs Indiana as if it was a private business they operate for their own profit. Not surprisingly, Pence isn't keen on Holcomb taking Coats' Senate seat. What to do about this problem? Well, if you can't bring him over to your side, then kick him out of the way. And that's what they're doing.

A funny thing happened not quite like we've seen in Indiana in a long time. An issue known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"), which passed Congress nearly unanimously in 1993, was handily adopted in 19 states in the ensuing years, including neighboring Illinois with the support of then-State Sen. Barack Obama, and which didn't even draw a single opponent to testify against it when it was first heard in committee this year, exploded as the number one issue of the session after being characterized for the first time in RFRA's more than two decade history as a license to discriminate against gay people. Gov. Pence wasn't even responsible for its initiation but quickly signed on to support it like so many Republican and Democrats alike have supported the law in the past in a bipartisan fashion.

It's one thing to credit gay rights advocates for re-purposing the law's intent for ulterior motives, but that doesn't fly unless the media is willing to run with the meme, which is precisely what happened with the Gannett newspaper leading the charge and the rest of the media simply going along for the ride and piling on in a typical media frenzy fashion. Any enlightened person agrees it's unfair to discriminate against a person simply because of their sexual orientation so branding RFRA as anti-gay was as good as recasting it as a law designed to discriminate against blacks. The Indianapolis Star knew respected legal scholars, such as Maurer School of Law constitutional law professor Daniel Conkle, a supporter of gay rights, had reviewed and signed on as a supporter of Indiana's RFRA legislation, but the newspaper threw aside all rational judgment and intentionally helped lead the state to the dark place it's been since the days when D.C. Stephenson and the KKK controlled virtually every office of any note in the state back in the 1920s through downright false reporting and over-the-top editorializing against SB 101.

By the point the manufactured media hysteria had reached top speed, Gov. Mike Pence had given his word to supporters he would sign SB 101 into law if it reached his desk, and he was a man of his word. Little did Pence know that forces had already been put into motion not just to discredit him politically as either a presidential candidate or candidate for re-election as governor in 2016. The forces have aligned and have a well-orchestrated plan to force him from the governor's office. Have people forgotten Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham and the role the Indianapolis Star's sister newspaper, The Arizona Republic, played in taking him down after he cancelled a paid vacation day for all state employees honoring Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Just like it happened this past week, businesses and conventions began a campaign to boycott Arizona over the King holiday issue. The Republic piled on by trumping up what turned out to be unfounded allegations of criminal wrongdoing on Mecham's part for allegedly misusing government money, which led to his impeachment, conviction and removal from office. Mecham was eventually acquitted of all charges at a subsequent criminal trial, but by that point Mecham was dead meat forever tarnished as the disgraced former governor who brought embarrassment and shame to his state.

Pence has always been a media savvy politician, but he looked like a deer staring into the headlights when the anti-RFRA onslaught hit him. Legislation he played no part in writing or steering through the legislature suddenly became his baby. Even House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, whose leadership power allowed them at any point during the process to put the kabash on SB 101 before garnering overwhelming support for it from both of their caucuses and placing it on the governor's desk for signature, seemed more than happy to throw Pence under the bus by laying the blame at his feet, again with the quite willing assistance of The Star and the rest of the media, as Pence became the butt of late-night comedian jokes. To hear The Star's Matt Tully describe it, Pence in one fell swoop had destroyed everything Mitch Daniels had worked hard to build during his two terms as governor. Tully described Pence as "a stunningly ineffective leader" who was "never meant to be a governor," which contrasted quite sharply from earlier columns he penned lauding the governor's leadership on his pet issues like early childhood education. When Long and Bosma brought forward a collection of Daniels' cronies at their press conference this morning to announce their fix to this mess Pence had caused to our great state, you could picture Daniels sitting in his office in West Lafayette with a wide grin on his face.

Daniels may claim he's totally happy acting as Purdue University President and having no part of politics, but everyone who knows him best knows he can't stand not having his hands on the control switch. Coats was more than happy in his multi-million dollar retirement home in North Carolina before Daniels, Lugar, Holcomb, et al. coaxed him into moving back to Indiana in 2010 to reclaim the Senate seat he obligingly vacated to make room for Evan Bayh in 1998 simply to keep someone Daniels and company couldn't control from taking the Senate seat, which was reportedly once his for the asking when Gov. Robert Orr had to chose a replacement for Dan Quayle when he was elected vice president, an offer he turned down so he could build his wealth into a multi-million dollar fortune by trading on his political connections and power. Daniels and company are still stinging from the smashing defeat of his beloved mentor, Richard Lugar, in the 2012 primary election by Richard Mourdock, who now lives in purgatory. It was no secret they were all privately supporting Democrat Joe Donnelly in the November election that year in retaliation for that unexpected loss.

It makes all the sense in the world that Daniels would do whatever it takes to ensure his handpicked choice succeeds Coats in the Senate. If that means taking down Pence to prevent him from having a hand in the decision, then so be it. He knows Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann is in his back pocket should he succeed in forcing Pence from office, a guy he only begrudgingly supported for governor in 2012 after concluding he had nobody capable of beating him in the primary. If you doubt me, look at how abruptly he threw former Secretary of State Charlie White under the bus. Daniels first called White into his office and ordered him to give up the office to which he had been overwhelmingly elected. When he refused, he confidently told White he would be indicted, convicted and kicked out of the office in his typical take-no-prisoner fashion. Mitch was true to his word.


Anonymous said...

Good work. It's about time someone exposed the true dirtbag and thug who's been holding Indiana hostage for the past ten years.

Finally, someone is going after the head of the snake.

That predator is only at Purdue so he can keep an eye on his empire.

Know this: Mitch is an enemy of Hoosier Republicans on most social issues. Because of this, Pence can mobilize an army much bigger, more passionate and more motivated than than anything Mitch can produce from his corporate boardrooms.

Mitch needs to be driven out of the state and back to D.C. All Pence has to do is let it be known that Mitch is agitating against social issues that matter to Hoosiers, and he'll be drummed out of this state.

Daniels is dirty, and he has several soldiers who owe their fortunes to him, like Rokita.

Pence, recognize the Indianapolis corporate, law-firm serpents who only care about money, and keep them out of your administration.

You don't need to play ball with them.

Anonymous said...

Interesting theory, Mr. Welsh. What more will it take to force Pence from office? Pence may have had a hand in this but as a reasonable person I don't see a whole lot of blame for this resting on his shoulders.

Anonymous said...

Hasn't Pence figured out that his PR flack, Robert Vane, isn't really there to flack for him?

Anonymous said...

We must derail Eric Holcomb at all costs! As you said Gary the only race that Holcomb ever ran he got his butt whipped in a very good year for Indiana Republicans back in 2002! We were able to derail Lugar in 2012. We need to derail Holcomb in 2016. We must damage every Daniels crony seeking elected office until he is toast! The dirtbag RINO Traitor Daniels and the Low Life Pence must be booted out of this state! Be warned GOP Elites we true republicans are hip to your game! Your time will end. You will regret but once you ever came back to Indiana and that will be till you are buried!

Anonymous said...

And what, exactly, would be the loss to Indiana of a Pence resignation? I for one prefer less religiosity in the office. When Mitch Daniels asked Long and Bosma to downplay social issues in the General Assembly I applauded. The last thing we needed at the time was yet another round of culture wars, and Hoosiers that wanted our representatives to focus on economic issues were dismayed at the thought of another attempt to enshrine hatred in our State Constitution. So what do we get with Pence? Christians trying to define the entire State by their moral parameters. So very Taliban of them. A lot of people, including most of our young, believe that extreme religion comes with an unacceptable social cost. So if Pence is pushed out, what’s the loss. To me, he was always just a pretty face. But standing right behind him, the dark shadow of Eric Miller, ready to stone our gay children and drag us back into the 18th Century. I celebrate Mitch Daniels. I prefer his vision of Indiana. I’m not sure I buy the characterization of him as the grand puppet master behind the Pence downfall. But Mitch finds religious extremism distasteful, and if he could just eliminate Long and Bosma and Miller and Garrison too, well, that would be lovely.

Anonymous said...

There is no way Pence is going to resign for annoying less than one half of one percent of Indiana's population, while standing up for people of conscience that are a huge portion of the state.

Pence has annoyed the noisy, shrill, crowd, but they didn't vote for him, anyway.

Pence isn't going anywhere, and he just became a lock for re-election. If Brewer distances himself from Ballard and appeals to values-based voters, he might have a fighting chance to be Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mike can appoint Eric Miller?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, go ahead and trash Mitch Daniels, whose policies are the reason our state is running in the black as opposed to our neighbor to the west who's facing a fiscal crisis.

But hey, at least we get to enshrine religious extremism into law!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:32 or should I say Daniels flunky? Indiana is not in the black! The state owes 800 million dollars to the feds that we have had to borrow to keep the state's unemployment trust fund going after Mitch bankrupted it! And remember Major Moves? That was supposed to last the state for decades? The money has already been spent! Indiana's financial state is far worse than anyone suspects!

Anonymous said...

Which is why Pence opted for his own form of a Federal Exchange...which I may add is not entirely approved by the fed's yet..and Pence put hundred's of thousands of Hoosiers on Medicaid on hold while bills and such were rejected until he was able to get Federal funds to put into the HIP Program that had an 8-10 year waiting list. This shift of funds from Medicaid now to HIP is to make our State funds look good while hundreds of thousands waited in despair for their coverage to be given or reinstated after intentionally cancelling, rejecting or not accepting new Medicaid...We are very far in the red folks. Lots owed to the Wishard Referendum and other matters as well. BMV, DCS/ FSSA suits and more and more to list.

Anonymous said...

Good point 10:06.
How much interest has been earned by both accounts (Medicaid and HIP) while funds sat waiting for transfers and still waiting approval for the HIP Account. Follow the money Gary.

Anonymous said...

Under hip there is a fee annually based on income and there is a fee for Emergency room services up to $2500 per visit. Lots of hidden costs that were not discussed in transfer of Medicaid to Hip for users and made public. Are the fed's aware of the strings attached to those waiting 8-10 years for any coverage by Indiana?