Mitch Daniels, secret Arab, wins award from Arab group

The would-be candidate of Republican intellectuals continues to be far too sane and adult for actual GOP voters

By Alex Pareene
April 19, 2011 10:01PM (UTC)
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FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2011, file photo, Gov Mitch Daniels, R-Ind. speaks during the Ronald Reagan Banquet at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Daniels has spent years talking about issues that typically make voters’ eyes glaze over: Cutting spending. Balancing budgets. Shrinking government. The priorities haven’t changed much in Daniels’ six years as governor. But suddenly voters are paying attention. Budget showdowns in Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey are drawing fresh, national attention to issues Daniels has long promoted. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File) (AP)

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is the sort of sober, smart governor that makes a brilliant presidential candidate in the minds of party elites, but, unfortunately, actual "voters" do not care for him. Especially Republican voters, who, last I checked, were torn between Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Dog the Bounty Hunter. Daniels isn't going anywhere in a Republican primary race. Especially now that he's accepted an award from some Arabs.

The Arab American Institute is giving Daniels the Najeeby Halaby award. Because of his longtime support of the institute. And, in part, because of his Syrian heritage. His little-known Syrian heritage. As AAI's spokesman, Omar Tewfik, said:


"Gov. Daniels piques our interest not only because he is Arab American (his grandparents are from Syria), he is a politician who - even in today's hyper-partisan political climate - has not digressed from his primary focus; fixing the economy," he wrote. "He has insisted that other issues not become a distraction and has not pandered to the anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiments expressed by many other potential GOP presidential candidates."

Daniels is the man that GOP elites and wonks desperately want to run for president. This is the candidate of David Brooks. But Mitch Daniels has about as much of a chance of winning the GOP nomination as Buddy Roemer, or Jane Fonda. To wish for him to even run is to wish for a Republican Party that does not exist.

And why doesn't it exist? Because the leaders of the party spend a lot of time doing things like pretending that allowing Muslims to exist and pray in the general vicinity of the site of the World Trade Center is a threat to our freedom. Half of Iowa GOP voters think the current president was secretly born overseas; does anyone think they'd support a candidate who is actually Arab?

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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