New York Times columnist David Brooks, who usually writes from a perspective anyone outside of Texas would consider conservative, has a fascinating column today about Indiana Gov. Mitchell Daniels and why Brooks thinks he should run for president. It's a catalog of small miracles -- some not too teensy -- that Daniels has been able to bring about in Indiana since he was elected in 2004.
Daniels has always been an object of fascination for me, because of his role in our Trinity River Project here in Dallas, officially known in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parlance as the Dallas Floodway Extension project.
Way back at the beginning of this mess, before the squandering of untold treasure on a project that will never be built as planned, Daniels was head of the Office of Management and Budget in the first George W. Bush White House. On October 3, 2001, he sent a letter to the Secretary of the Army raising questions about the basic underlying justification for the Dallas project.
In that letter, Daniels told Army Secretary Thomas E. White that a rigorous new look at the flood protection needs of Dallas "may well lead to a fundamentally different project." He urged that no physical construction begin without a top-to-bottom reexamination of the project. His letter is the reason the project never has been included in any presidential budget -- neither Bush's nor Obama's.
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As we know, the project has cruised along anyway, funded entirely by earmarks. And aren't we proud of that?
One of the points the city would like to forget, now that we are faced with a serious failure of our levee system, is that the Trinity River Project actually increases flood risk to the city by adding new levees downriver. The city's best argument on this point has been that it only makes the danger a little bit worse. I actually had a city staff member hold up her forefinger and thumb in the gesture for itty-bitty to make this point to me once.
Kind of like getting the itty-bitty gesture from your doctor when you ask what the chances are you're going to die. Very un-reassuring.
Maybe Brooks is right. Maybe Daniels should run for president. And then maybe he will come down here to Dallas and save us from ourselves.