Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels delivers the State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the Statehouse Tuesday, January 10, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Mitch Daniels? Seriously?
The Republican Party is so determined to advance the extreme anti-labor agenda of its Wall Street funders and front groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council that it shoved aside John Boehner (might have teared up), Paul Ryan (last year’s man) and vaguely interesting governors such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley (both backing a loser for president) in order to make way for Indiana Governor Daniels to deliver the response to Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Obama.
The choice of Daniels, who is currently leading the fight to enact an anti-labor “right-to-work (for less)” law in Indiana, sends a powerful signal at a time when the Republicans who would be president are stumbling over one another to proclaim their enthusiasm for “right-to-work” legislation, their disdain for public employees and their unions and (in Newt Gingrich’s case) their determination to turn the clock back a century in order to eliminate child-labor laws. Only Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich are more closely linked in the public’s mind with the union-bashing frenzy that has so energized Republican governors and legislators. And Daniels is, arguably, the most aggressive union basher of all. Having already stripped Indiana public employees of collective bargaining rights, he is now aiding and abetting the efforts of Indiana Republican legislators to undermine the rights of private sector workers.
Now, the state-based fight goes national as an anti-labor governor gets a forum to spread anti-labor lies about how best to jump-start a sputtering economy. “The national Republican party has selected Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union address… sending a clear signal the party is making attacks on working people a top priority in the 2012 elections,” observes the AFL-CIO blog. Daniels is a key backer of right-to-work-for-less (RTW) legislation, which state Republican lawmakers, in a stunning display of arrogance, have repeatedly tried to ram through, while thumbing their noses at working Hoosiers—not to mention democracy.
The response to the president’s State of the Union Address by a representative of the opposition party has become as much a part of American political theater as the speech itself.
The responses can be powerful (Virginia Senator Jim Webb in 2007) or pathetic (Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal). They can be focused and conciliatory (Senate majority leader Bob Dole in 1996) or combative (Senate majority leader Harry Byrd in 1988). They can be pointless (House minority leader Richard Gephardt in 2002) or they can be riveting in their weirdness (House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s 2011 competition for the limelight).