Fantasies of an Obama-style breakthrough

When we get to the point where mention in the media of the name of Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, is regularly accompanied by the line that he is a prospective 2016 Republican presidential aspirant, you understand why buzz continues about Mitt Romney being seriously courted within the party to be a third-time seeker of the nomination. To hear the Romney proponents tell it, you wouldn’t think that, as the 2012 nominee, this guy convincingly demonstrated that core convictions defining him were non-existent; and every step of the way his actions reaffirmed an inability to relate to folks not within the ranks of the well-off. But a Romney, even that much challenged, evidently looks good when things are so dire as to accord Jindal legit contender status.

If reports of Jindal’s interest in running for president prove correct, it must be that his is the standard trial-balloon type indulgence, not one with serious expectations of triumph. One would think he’s pragmatic enough to do a realistic landscape appraisal. Born on U.S. soil to newly arrived Indian immigrant parents, Jindal’s public path so far has shown him to be steeped in conservative playbook ideology, especially on the fiscal front, in addition to being seen as a pretty bright guy. If he happens to believe, however, that the savage, unrelenting backlash from the right against President Obama has only to do with Obama being a Democrat and a progressive, he is woefully out to lunch. To whatever extent Jindal would be committed to flaunting conservative and/or Tea Party colors in a White House bid, he would be in for a rude awakening if allowing himself the presumption that his ethnicity wouldn’t play huge with the right-side base.

Obama was able to twice win the presidency, obviously with an impressive chunk of white votes, but with his core support solidly anchored in people of color. Unfortunately for Jindal, any national office quest by him as a non-white Republican/Tea Party hope, would be without the kind of non-white base support that was a gimme for Obama. Even the Hispanic vote, which not too long ago offered fairly decent trawling for the GOP, has become a lot rougher terrain for the party. So that not suffering the right’s immediate disdain reserved for any Democrat would help Jindal some, but at the end of the day, what he is figures to hurt him a whole lot more. The ethnic stock whence Jindal came isn’t very likely to gain him the stamp of approval for potential White House duty from a sizeable portion of the Republican/Tea Party bloc.

The Republicans’ shakeout process for the nomination last time around was a protracted, tedious affair which prompted from party bigwigs the assurance that 2016 will see an overhauled run-up to selecting a nominee, most notably in de-cluttering what was a debate-laden calendar in 2012. Speculation about Romney being again in the mix has come in the wake of a sense that has developed, that the once formidable Chris Christie no longer looks like the powerhouse he once did, following the slamming he took in the Washington Bridge scandal that has scarred his administration. Christie (some have questionably attached to him the tag of “moderate”) was earlier seen as the great GOP hope against Hillary Clinton in her presumed run.

Christie could of course yet resurface as a 2016 factor…although we maintain that, never mind Washington Bridge, the documented history of the governor’s coarse, insulting conduct in encounters with assorted ordinary folk is sufficient to effectively derail the bid for higher office of Christie or any other politician similarly given to humiliating defenseless members of the public. And it’s been known to happen, there may well be among the players fixing to throw hats in the GOP ring, some little known contender whose stock rapidly rises (Bill Clinton was no odds-on favorite to win the nomination in 1992 when jousting began among Democrats; and of course neither was Obama in 2008). What’s clear is there are elements on the GOP side worried enough about the potential pool of presidential wannabes to exert pressure on Romney to step up to the plate one more time. That’s Romney, whose infamous “47 percent” remark to some wealthy folk in Florida, about who in the electorate mattered to him, has taken its place among the celebrated hoof-in-mouth classics of presidential campaign lore.

Meanwhile an ambitious Jindal (he was said to have eyed a run for president in 2012 as well) must think he has arrived where his being in the discussion about presidential possibilities is by no means a stretch. “Don’t do stupid stuff,” Jindal admonished his fellow Republicans a while back. Certainly spoken like a man brimming with confidence. Which is a pretty neat quality to have in your arsenal, if the presidency is your aim and game. But Jindal’s glide through plum appointive posts and elective office in Louisiana could lead him to discount the possibility of his race negatively impacting those ambitions of his. It would be “stupid stuff” on his part to do so.

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