2 dec. 2008

Bobby Jindal, Gods Own Party's Obama


The Washington Post has an interesting item today on Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R) recent swing through Iowa, apparently the first step towards the 37-year-old governor's 2012 presidential campaign. As has been apparent for quite a while, the GOP's far-right base has exceedingly high hopes for Jindal, and consider him "the party's own version of Obama."
Like the president-elect, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is young (37), accomplished (a Rhodes scholar) and, as the son of Indian immigrants, someone familiar with breaking racial and cultural barriers. He came to Iowa to deliver a pair of speeches, and his mere presence ignited talk that the 2012 presidential campaign has begun here, if coyly. Already, a fierce fight is looming between him and other Republicans -- former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who arrived in Iowa a couple of days before him, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is said to be coming at some point -- for the hearts of social conservatives. [...]
No less an aspiring kingmaker than Steve Schmidt, the chief strategist of McCain's failed presidential bid, sees Jindal as the Republican Party's destiny. "The question is not whether he'll be president, but when he'll be president, because he will be elected someday." The anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist believes, too, that Jindal is a certainty to occupy the White House, and conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh has described him as "the next Ronald Reagan."
Jindal is, above all else, a political meteor, sharing Obama's precocious skills for reaching the firmament in a hurry. It was just four years ago, after losing a gubernatorial election, that he won election to Congress, and only this year that he became Louisiana's governor, the first nonwhite to hold the office since Reconstruction. And now, 10 months into his first term, the talk of a presidential bid is getting louder among his boosters.


Earlier this year, Jindal was approached by the McCain campaign about V.P. vetting, but the governor reportedly declined. Chris Cillizza recently reported, "[T]here was also real trepidation within his political inner circle that Jindal might wind up as the pick -- McCain was attracted to his comprehensive health-care knowledge -- and be caught up in what they believed to be a less-than-stellar campaign that could pin a loss on Jindal without much ability to change or control the direction of the contest."

It's obviously way too early to start seriously sizing up future presidential candidates, especially governors. Yglesias had a good item on this a couple of weeks ago: "A governor presiding over an economic boom can cut taxes while increasing spending, and thus develop a reputation as a popular can-do pragmatist. Think of George W. Bush, George Voinovich, Christie Todd Whitman, and other classics of the 1990s.... [R]ight now [Jindal's] looking at the need to cut $1 billion in spending. Not his fault (though the decision to make up the budget shortfall with a mix of 100% service cuts and 0% tax cuts reflects the intellectually and morally bankrupt nature of contemporary conservatism) any more than the 'free money for everyone' governors of the nineties were really geniuses, but it's going to make it difficult for him to rack up the sort of Record Of Accomplishments that you're usually looking for in a presidential candidate."