Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

October 15, 2013

Mitch Daniels and tempting the political trip wire

When will former governor be known as Purdue's president?

(Continued)

But here the conversation was his time as governor — a time in his career for which he makes no apologies.

“Look, I had a job that required me to — wait, it didn’t require me, but I chose to — take clear stances on a thousand issues,” Daniels told the J&C in July, when he was fending off controversy over emails he wrote as governor about keeping the work of historian Howard Zinn out of Indiana’s public schools.

That led to reaffirmation of his promise to separate his political past from his university future.

“The pledge I took [when named Purdue president], first of all, was to forsake anything partisan — which I have done, without exception — and to stay out of public issues that could be construed that way,” Daniels said in July. “And I think I’ve been faithful to that.”

Purdue’s trustees told J&C reporter Hayleigh Colombo they aren’t concerned with last week’s paid speaking engagement. They say they have an arrangement with Daniels so if he’s paid to make an appearance, that counts as personal time. They even say they are OK with Daniels using Purdue’s jet to hit those personal time speaking engagements, if it means he can get back to Purdue business sooner.

So Daniels is in the clear with his immediate bosses.

Outside of that, the verdict isn’t as clear. Daniels wastes the good will offered by the likes of professor David Williams, chairman of the University Senate. In September, Williams called out skeptical faculty and asked them to lay down arms in an “undeclared ideological war.” His point: Give Daniels some breathing room and space to work.

Williams’ truce, though, was predicated on Daniels keeping his focus on the university and not on the politics of right-to-work laws or whatever was covered in Minneapolis.

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