Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is Bobby Jindal destined to become Sarah Palin part II?

There's been some buzz as of late about Republicans turning to Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal as the heri-apparent nominee in 2012. Jindal has been seen as a rising star in GOP circles for some time but recently the conservative infatuation with him has taken a bizarre twist. Here's Ross Douthat

If anything, I think the way the McCain campaign has finished up - and the way the media has covered it - works to Jindal's advantage in 2012: Conservatives are going to be extremely eager to prove that they only hate Obama because he's a radical, not because they're racist, and what better way to demonstrate that than to nominate a dark-skinned conservative with a funny-sounding name?

Immediately upon reading this I thought to myself, they have learned nothing from the Palin fiasco. 

To conservatives all minorities are fungible, you can just swap them in and out for each other and magically the GOP will be able to counter Democratic advantages with women and people of color. This is the exact thinking that brought us Sarah Palin in part as a grab by conservatives for the support of disgruntled female Hillary supporters. It didn't matter what Palin's policy positions were relative to Clinton's, all that mattered was the gender - all female pols are interchangeable as far as Republicans are concerned. Palin has of course tanked with women voters and Barack Obama has consolidated his support among Democrats, bringing the substantial majority of Hillary supporters into the fold. 

If there is an affirmative case to be made for Bobby Jindal then Ross should make it. That Jindal has dark skin is not in and of itself an argument for his candidacy or his ascendancy. The fact that Ross, considered a leading young intellectual conservative, doesn't understand this does not portend well for conservatives ability to break out of the racial and gender boxes that they currently find themselves in. 

Daniel Larison from the American Conservative pust it rather succinctly, 

As I argued some time ago, never underestimate the Republican desire to get on the high horse of anti-racism and egalitarianism, to say nothing of the even greater desire to demonstrate that they are in no way racist.  This is the “defensive crouch” for Republicans, which has led them time and again in the last twenty years to nominate the “inclusive” moderates who engage in various minority outreach efforts to no avail.  The Palin pander to women failed magnificently, but the failure of most of the other panders over the years has not discredited these attempts inside the GOP.  The inevitable next step will be to nominate a non-white candidate.

1 comment:

nmculbreth said...

At this point in time I'd venture there are a lot of people in the McCain camp that wish Jindal was actually Palin part I, though I suppose that isn't really relevant this late in the game.

In any event, while I think Douhat's argument is a bit clumsy, I think he's probably right about Jindal being the early front runner for the GOP nomination in 2012. He's got a compelling biography, solid conservative credentials and he'd be a fresh face for a very stale brand. While his ethnicity may have the ancillary benefit that Ross mentions, it's hardly the most compelling argument for his candidacy.

The real question is who else is a legitimate candidate in 2012?

Palin is a complete joke and has minimal support outside of the wingnuts. Guiliani is done. Romney couldn't beat McCain in a very winnable 2008 primary season. Ditto for Huckabee.

Who else is left?