I’m feeling unoriginal today. I’m not exactly sure why but it *is* Monday so perhaps that’s it. The evidence is overwhelming that the Republican base doesn’t view the world in the same way that rational people do. Their reluctance to admit that Dylann Roof was racially motivated and not an “anti-Christian lunatic” is merely the latest example of this. Jeb Bush claims to be a centrist who will speak the truth to the base when it’s wrong. It took him almost 16 hours to admit that Roof was a racist who thought the massacre would cause a race war. Mustn’t offend the people who think Cliven Bundy is John Wayne instead of a fathead in a cowboy hat or that the Duggars are moral exemplars instead of members of a cult. When the Bushes pander, they pander big.
Another example of Republican magical thinking comes from an article about Bobby Jindal’s campaign plans in the Sunday Advocate. In a rare bow to reality, they concede that PBJ is a long shot but claim he’s used to being an underdog:
But neither Jindal, who says he doesn’t worry about polls, nor his longtime campaign consultant, Timmy Teepell, seems terribly concerned about the odds.
Both point to Jindal’s performance in his first try for office, when he led the open-primary field for governor in 2003. (He lost the runoff, but his strong showing propelled his later career.)
“Gov. Jindal went from an asterisk to 33 percent to win his first primary,” Teepell said in an email. “He is unafraid of a race where he only has to go 11 points to get ahead,” he said, referring to the frequent inability of even the leading Republican contenders to register more than that.
Timmy gives good spin. He neglects to mention that popular sitting Governor Mike Foster was a full-throated Jindalista at that point. Big Daddy Mike’s support was the main reason that no-neck brat PBJ did so well in that primary. As I’ve said before, 2003 was the only closely contested election PBJ has ever been involved in and he lost the run-off. He faced only token and comically inept opposition in the 2007 and 2011 Goober races. Additionally, in his 2004 Congressional race, the GOP establishment cleared the field for the then whiz kid to win against token opposition. Current House whip Steve Scalise was told to wait his turn even though he had been around longer. Remember that the next time the Jindalites claim he’s an insurgent candidate. Insipid is more like it…
Back to the Advocate’s piece wherein DC bureau chief, Gregory Roberts, compares PBJ’s candidacy to that of Jimmy Carter in 1976:
Jindal’s rise to the top from near nullity in 2003 is hardly the only time a politician has pulled that off, even on the vastly bigger scale of a presidential race. In 1976, a Georgia peanut farmer who had served a single term as governor, Jimmy Carter, emerged from near-obscurity to capture the Democratic nomination and ultimately the White House.
Like Carter, Jindal comes from a Southern state without a large population or contributor base. And like Carter, Jindal is a born-again Christian whose religious convictions form a significant part of his political profile.
In a speech Friday to the Faith & Freedom conference of religious-right activists in Washington, Jindal, 44,recounted his journey from the Hinduism of his childhood — his parents emigrated from India to Baton Rouge shortly before he was born — to his embrace of Christianity as a teenager; the story is a standard element of his public appearances. He identifies now as an evangelical Catholic.
In 1976, Carter made his first big splash in Iowa, home to the caucuses that kick off the nomination process. He shrewdly exploited the Democratic Party’s revised rules giving more power to grass-roots state nomination contests instead of party bosses.
This is a genuinely bizarre and laughably ahistorical analogy. The only thing I like about it is the comparison to someone who is loathed by the GOP base and still subjected to ridicule by them even though the big blow out was 35 years ago. The GOP spent many years casting Carter as Herbert Hoover to Reagan’s FDR and they can’t let go. End of oddly relevant digression.
The political circumstances are radically different in 2016 than 1976, let me count the ways. First, George McGovern was blown out by Tricky Dick in 1972. Democrats were desperate for a winning candidate and Carter was able to capitalize on that. He also wooed Wallace voters by positioning himself as a white collar, respectable version of their hero. That’s something forgotten about Carter: his victorious Florida primary campaign that year was a masterpiece of proto-triangulation. Carter picked up Wallace votes and earned some gratitude from party liberals for slaying the populist peckerwood dragon. I’m uncertain if the Jindalistas are capable of such cunning. Back to modern times: Willard Mittbot Romney got 48% of the vote and 206 electoral votes. Carter had a much, much easier act to follow.
Second, 1976 was the post-Watergate election and Carter positioned himself as an outsider in contrast to *most* of his primary opponents. The Carter campaign set the template for all the Washington outsider candidacies to follow, including the one that ousted him. In short, it was a very unique year, and the two most popular national Democrats at the time, Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, did not run. In contrast, the 2016 GOP field is a large and deep one. It is the why not me campaign, after all.
I suspect many Republicans will employ magical thinking and claim that, by merely existing, the Obama administration has been worse than Nixon’s, and that Beghazi, Benghazi is worse than Watergate. Whatever. Nixon resigned with 2 years and 4 months left in his second term and President Obama will finish out his; all the magical thinking in the world cannot eradicate that.
Another major difference between Carter and Jindal is that the former left office with high poll ratings whereas PBJ is the most unpopular Gret Stet Governor of the polling era. That’s right, less popular than Edwin Edwards during his *first* corruption trial. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Bobby-n-Timmy. The unreality based GOP answer to that would be something like this: the poll ratings show that he took tough decisions and was a manly, man worthy of the support of Phil Robertson and his family band of bearded phonies.
Finally, Jimmy Carter was a better campaign product than PBJ. He was a fresh faced, squeaky clean alternative to a field of veteran pols to his left and George Wallace to his right. Carter positioned himself in the centrist sweet spot and rode that to the nomination. In contrast, PBJ is appealing to the hard right evangelical wing of his party. It’s a crowded space that includes past Iowa caucus winners Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum as well as fiery, charismatic Texas Senator Ted Cruz. It’s hard to see PBJ finishing ahead of any of those guys. Nobody’s ever called Bobby Jindal fiery or charismatic. He may serve up raw meat to the base but in an unseasoned and bland fashion.
Bobby Jindal will be announcing his candidacy on Wednesday in Kenner, brah. Remember the whole Facebook flash mob protest thing? The Facebook page has 3,500 likes but limited activity, which once again shows the limits off online/hashtag activism. It’s easy to retweet something, sign an online petition or like a Facebook page, but much harder to schlep out to suburban Kenner and protest in the 90+ degree heat. There do not appear to be any concrete plans for the protest. No surprise there.
I’m going to close on an unoriginal note and predict the following: PBJ will not get a bump in the polls from his announcement, will not make the cut for the Fox debates unless the criteria change, and will end up with the “job he wants” as a fat cat lobbyist or head of some wingnut pressure group.