Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Jindal’

Volcano Monitoring

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

This will be my last Jindal post, at least for today, I swear.

One of the odder things about Jindal’s speech was his singling out of volcano monitoring money as an example of wasteful government spending. Generally speaking, even wingnuts tend to agree that watching out for natural disasters is a good idea. No one ever really argues that the government should cease funding that goes to watching for hurricanes out in the ocean, for example. And it’s not like it has a funny sounding, easy to misunderstand name you could mischaracterize either. “Volcano monitoring” is pretty straight forward, and sounds like something most people would agree we ought to be doing.

When I exchanged emails about the speech with a friend who works at the RNC this morning, he singled out the line about volcano monitoring spending as something he expected to see mocked in coming days, and really didn’t know how he was going to spin it. He also, more bluntly than Dave Noon, hypothesized that it might have been something of a jab to Sarah Palin. In case you didn’t hear, there’s a big volcano set to erupt in Alaska, and because of volcano monitoring the state and federal government have been able to evacuate people from the area, probably saving some lives and a whole lot of potential property damage. The thinking, I suppose, goes something like this; Jindal scoffs at volcano monitoring funding in his nationally televised, speaking-for-the-GOP speech; the people of Alaska find out about this just as a volcano is about to erupt, and demand that Palin repudiate Jindal’s comments. Seeking re-election, Palin will have little choice but to distance herself from a comment that’s both incredibly stupid and has real local significance to her constituents. By this point, the idea goes, “volcano monitoring” enters the right-wing’s vernacular as a short hand for pork in general, and Jindal will have his main rival for the support of the conservative-populist aspect of the base on record supporting this erstwhile symbol of government waste.

It seems like something of a bank shot to me, but I don’t see any more likely answer as to why Gov. Jindal seems to think we don’t really need to spend money watching out for natural disasters.

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Perils of the Echo Chamber

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

Atrios makes a salient point:

I’ve written before that I think part of the problem that conservatives/Republicans face is that their mythology has become a bit too complex for mere mortals (people who don’t listen to Limbaugh and read The Corner obsessively) to comprehend. They reference rogues’ gallery of enemies and various “bad things” that most people have never heard of. Simply trying to navigate through the various wingnutty minefields while throwing out the appropriate red meat has become difficult to do, and the result is incomprehensible to most of the country.

You saw a lot of this coming from the McCain campaign, especially once the economy tankes and they were just phoning it in. What happens is that once you go totally down the rabbit hole that is the blogosphere, left or right, eventually you develop short hand for concepts, critiques, and a basic insider language. And that works out just fine for the communities, but it wouldn’t work so well if you started using that language to talk to everyone else as a politician. Imagine if Barack Obama were asked about some unfair criticism from The Washington Post and his answer was “time for a blogger ethics panel.” We’d all get what he meant entirely, but 99% of the country would think he was totally fucking insane.

And that’s basically what happened to McCain last October, somewhere around the “share the wealth” mini-controversy. The right-wing blogosphere understood that as a short hand for full blown socialism, especially after they’d hacked it up endlessly for days. And if you read a lot of right-wing blogs, you at least understood what the point of the critique was supposed to be. But if you didn’t follow the conservative noise machine, you had no idea whatsoever what was so controversial about wanting to promote broad based economic prosperity. Which perhaps shows how out of step with most people conservative bloggers are, but at the very least shows why you can’t cut corners with your messaging campaigns. Had the McCain campaign walked it out a bit more and laid the groundwork for what these buzzwords were supposed to mean, they might have had some success with it. At the very least people would have been able to understand them. Instead they started running a campaign for the echo chamber, and everyone else was just sort of scratching their heads wondering what the hell was going on. Bobby Jindal repeated that mistake last night.


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Jindal’s Disaster

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Forget Obama’s speech, that was mostly stuf we already knew delivered in a way we’ve seen Obama give dozens of speeches now setting up a budget that we have a fairly good idea how it’s going to look. No, the real political story from last night is the total bombing of Gov. Bobby Jindal. This is David Brook’s reaction:

That’s some pretty strong stuff, but I think I especially like that he characterized the speech as “nihilistic,” because I think that’s exactly what it was. Jindal trotted out decades old right-wing lines like we hadn’t been doing all of these things for the last 8 years. Tax cuts? Check. Tossing money at the military industrial complex? Check. Slashing government services for the poor and middle class? You betcha. It was, as Ezra Klein noted, a speech any Republican leader could have given since 1992. Moreover, Jindal full throatedly embraced the new Republican strategy of lying through your teeth about everything. And yes, the Kenneth from 30 Rock comparison is a good one. Xotoxi said it well over in the forums; Jindal’s tone sounds like he’s introducing some hokey educational video targeted to a 4th grade class.

But what really stands out about Jindal’s speech is how obviously disconnected from reality it was. Barack Obama was overly clear that his tax plan includes a tax cut for everyone making under $250,000 a year, but there was Jindal demanding…tax cuts. It’s odd enough that Congressional Republicans haven’t moved away from the McCain strategy of campaigning against an imaginary person who was talking about massive tax increases and huge spending cuts in the Defesne Department, but you’d think someone who wanted to come to a leadership role after their 2008 beating, and who was delivering a speech right after the President’s much more visible speech, would realize that you need to stay reasonably close to the parameters of what the President actually said. Add in the specter of a Republican actually daring to bring up the response to Katrina as an example of government failure…

Here’s a bold prediction; Louisiana will be taking all of their money from the stimulus package, and Bobby Jindal will be running for re-election in 2011, avoiding the big stage for a little while longer. Clearly he’s not ready, and he’ going to need to let this recede from memory a little bit.

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Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

by Brien Jackson

Aside from the sheer banality of his remarks, let me just ask one question; what Republican strategist thought it was a good idea to ask Bobby Jindal to deliver this speech? Not to point out the obvious, or to say things you’re not supposed to say in polite company, but do they not think the American people realize that they are an overwhelmingly white party? And so they follow the first State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress by a non-white President with a Republican response given by one of like 6 non-white Republicans in the entire country? It reeks of tokenism, and it puts Jindal in a really terrible spot. If this is how Republicans are going to use Jindal over the next 4 years, they’re really going to destroy whatever image the guy might have cultivated, as he’s going to get labeled as the go-to-non-white guy in the Republican Party.

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Republicans Don’t Understand Republicans

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

To answer Matt’s question, and to follow up on something I wrote yesterday, another interesting thing to ponder about the Deep South (and Alaska!) Governors considering turning down federal stimulus money is who, exactly, they think they’re playing to. It’s certainly true that the rump presence of the Congressional GOP is disproportionately right-wing, and Southern, but is there any indication that the national GOP is in the same boat? Well, not really.

Remember that the Republican Presidential primary, like the Democratic primry, consists of capturing delegates. But unlike the Democratic Party, the Republicans do not have a uniform standard for delegate allocation, favoring instead a system that yields an early end to the contest. This includes states that are winner-take-all, some that are proportional, and some that are a mix. It also, ironically, is one that favors big states, at least with the 2008 schedule. New York, New Jersey, and Florida are all winner take all contests, and California is winner take all by Congressional district. It was in these states, plus Arizona and Missouri, that John McCain won the nomination. In fact, he didn’t win a single Deep South contest, other than South Carolina. Mike Huckabee swept the rest…and was completely crushed in the delegate count by McCain. And with a Democratic incumbent in 2012, independents who want to vote in a primary election are going to flood into the GOP process, making it even more moderate than usual.

In other words, even if it weren’t the case that governors were largely judged on the basis of performance, and could get by with being ideological standard bearers, Jindal, Sanford, Palin, and Barbour are playing to an ideological base that has no power whatsoever even in the GOP primary process. It’s possible, of course, that the rules could drastically changes before 2012, but that seems like an awfully big thing to bet on now, doesn’t it?

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Banking on teh Crazy

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

I haven’t yet commented on the Republican governors considering declining their state’s stimulus money (or actually doing it), mostly because I haven’t yet figured out what I think about it. Steve Benen calls it a race to out crazy one another, but that seems a little too credulous for my liking.

First of all, the obvious connection between Governors Jindal, Palin, Barbour, and Sanford is that they’d all like to be President, and are all clearly convinced that opposing the stimulus is your best bet in the Republican Party. And I’m sure that’s a wise calculation, but there’s a bit of a difference between opposing the bill and actively turning down money for your state. As I noted the other day, national politics is relatively short on governors who served during economic downturns, mostly because it’s hard to accumulate a list of accomplishments to run on as a result. You get to cut spending on state services, and that’s a hard sell to make down the road, even to the national Republican Party. So I suppose these governors are trying to distinguish themselves, but it seems a little odd all the same.

For one thing, they’re taking an awfully big gamble. Congressional Republicans opposing the stimulus bill makes sense; if it works you’re not going to get credit regardless, but if it fails, or is seen to have failed, you can gain from having opposed it. Now that it’s passed, any governor actually thinking about turning down the money is betting on an awfully big stretch; that their state’s economy will do better than the rest of the country without the money. That’s the only way this can really work out as a positive for them, and the only way they could really sell this nationally. Obviously that’s quite a bit unlikely, and the downside is much starker; the national economy recovers, at least somewhat, while your state continues to suffer, or even to recover at a pace slower than the national average. In that case you’ve not only hurt your own personal political career, you’ve provided an incredibly stark, side by side comparison of two competing worldviews, and if you bust you’ll have a hard time defending your entire ideology for a generation or so. It won’t be an abstract debate over competing economc theories, it will be an objective assessment of the two theories played out in real time.

Of course, it’s also possible that the governors are trying to short circuit the plan. That theory would be bolstered by what has been refused so far; Jindal wants to refuse additional millions for unemployment insurance, and Sanford is going to refuse money to make buildings more energy efficient. These are not only some of the most popular aspects of the package, but also among the most stimulative. The wrench in this view, I think, it that it’s just hard to see how refusing money to be spent in Louisiana or South Carolina is going to have a huge ripple effect on the national economy. Neither state is all that big, and there’s nothing particularly special about either state that gives it a disproportionate impact on the national economy. So the most likely outcome is that these state economies lag behind the rest of the country, which is bad for the citizens in those states, but also bad for the governors managing the situation as well.

It is, in other words, totally crazy.

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