Thursday, May 21, 2015

Predicting Character: The Emptiness of Jindal

It's gotten to where you can tell a Republican is going to announce he will attempt a Presidential campaign run by how shameless and hypocritical he gets in pandering to the religious Far Right.

Example: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued an Executive Order for his state allowing (read: encouraging) anti-gay discrimination:

Jindal’s executive order is notable for two reasons. First, the Louisiana governor is clearly considering a run at the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Over the last few years, Republican strategists, pundits, and young ’uns have been telling us that this time around, the GOP would take a tolerant turn on gay rights. But like Jeb Bush, Jindal is doubling down on LGBTQ issues, zigging hard to the right even as the rest of the country zags further to the left. As the New York Times’ Ross Douthat admitted a while ago, the conservative endgame on marriage equality at this point is to guarantee anti-gay holdouts the legal right to demean same-sex couples and their families. Jindal, like Bush, appears to be more interested in pandering to this shrinking minority than appealing to the supermajority of Americans who support equality. (note: I wouldn't call it a supermajority but it's a clear and growing one)

The pandering part is easy to spot.  The hypocrisy part requires context:

Second, Jindal has been a vituperative critic of President Barack Obama’s executive orders, especially his order deferring deportation for many undocumented immigrants. In a press release, Jindal castigated Obama for “bypassing Congress” and “ignoring the American people,” slamming the order as “an arrogant, cynical political move.” Jindal seemed to be keenly concerned that Obama imposed his policy preference by executive fiat rather than allowing the people, through their elected representatives, to have their say. Now, though, the people’s representatives have firmly rejected Jindal’s bill—and rather than persuading the legislature to reconsider the measure, Jindal has simply imposed it by executive decree.
Only a painfully gullible naïf could be surprised to see a Republican eagerly aping Obama’s methods of governance while simultaneously denouncing the president’s maneuvers. Even as Mitt Romney condemned Obama’s executive orders in 2012, he planned a sweeping slew of his own. And Jeb Bush, who scores points on the campaign trail by lambasting Obama’s executive overreach, would enthusiastically issue his own favored executive orders in the early days of his presidency...


One can question if this was an impulsive move or a calculated one, but the end result is an obvious move by Jindal to keep his anti-gay bona fides fresh in the minds of primary voters for 2016.

It didn't have to be this way.  When Jindal won his governorship in Louisiana back in 2009, he was one of the bright smart shining stars of a GOP that had ruined its reputation over bad leadership and growing disdain for genuine deep thinkers.  He showed up on the stage warning the Republicans to "stop being the stupid party."  But then he turned right around and became a perfect example of what a person looks like after having a brain fart.

What happened?  The best argument to make is that Jindal's ambition got the better of him.  He saw the Republican Establishment at the national level insisting on a pure "tax-cut, school-cut, kill healthcare reform" agenda and sold his soul over it.  If we look at the Washington Post article on him from 2013:

...On Monday he dropped his tax reform plan that would have replaced income taxes with higher sales taxes, acknowledging a widespread backlash from the public, religious groups, business and state lawmakers in his own party. "It certainly wasn't the reaction I was hoping for," Jindal said...

There's Jindal offering himself up to the anti-tax Club for Greed crowd that pushes against a progressive income tax system in favor of a regressive sales tax system.

...Deep budget cuts, particularly to health care and education spending, have been unpopular. Polling suggests that a small majority also opposes the vouchers at the heart of his educational reform plan, which a judge has deemed unconstitutional...

The education spending in 2013 was just the tip of the iceberg: in 2015 Jindal is pushing for a major slash of spending for state universities to the point where Louisiana State - home of the LSU Tigers and a key SEC powerhouse - may well lose 82 percent of its funding and could well close its doors (has a major public university of its size ever close before?!).  There would certainly be a revolt by students and (surviving) faculty over the horrific decline of the school's accredited value.  And there's the fealty Jindal has again to the tax-cutter elites: he dare not consider bigger revenue hikes to help the educational system recover or right itself.

The voucher part of that paragraph refers to the ongoing Far Right obsession over "choice" in schools by giving parents the money to send their kids to schools they prefer (including private religious schools that won't answer to state regulations).  They're not really very popular with the parents to begin with, and the courts keep noting how unconstitutional they are.  But the wingnuts insist because it plays to two of their desires: the desire to scam more money out of the public funds, and the desire to have kids sent to private religious schools that would teach God, Creationism, and Fear instead of History, Science and Math.

It's telling how Jindal bends to the whim and will of his corporate and church overlords.  He does not seem to respond to the cries of the public, sticking to a script of "this is what's best for you, take it and shut up" and moving on to the next event that would keep his national profile afloat.  And he's getting to the point where his inflexible positioning over empty ideology has alienated his own party in the state.

If I have to chart out Jindal's positives and negatives and guess (ha) at his Character trait, it'd look like this:

Bobby Jindal - Governor, Louisiana
Positives: Has been able to win election as governor twice, so he knows how to campaign.  His background - Rhodes Scholar - clearly shows someone who had a functioning sober brain, which ought to put him one up on half the contested field.  His presence as a non-white on the debate platform eases the GOP's need to present themselves as "diverse" and not a bunch of old greedy sexist white guys.
Negatives: One of the blandest visible figures trying to run since 2009.  Can be flatter than drywall.  Early attempts to make himself the GOP's answer to Obama - a well-educated ethnic - were disasters. Flips-flops not over policies - he's been consistently conservative - but over marketing and public stances.  Jindal may be an intellectual but he betrays intelligence as a virtue every time he panders to the ignorance of the Far Right.  His actual record running Louisiana is terrible: he succeeded in pissing off a well-respected conservative pundit from the state, and that takes doing.
Chances: Doesn't look that good to begin with.  His popularity numbers are one of the lowest among sitting governors.  His pandering to religious issues does not separate him from the likes of Huckabee or Cruz, who both have a head start and better ground beneath them.
Character Chart: I keep coming back to how the Republican party itself leans so far over to Active-Negative behaviors - rigid Uncompromising attitudes above all - that every Republican candidate is pretty much going to fulfill that character.  On Jindal's specific woes, he's much like Huckabee in terms of a rigid social-religious ideology, but he also carries with him a hard-line economic mindset that would break the federal budget in the worst ways.  His record as Governor - alienating, uncompromising, stuck on broken issues - is proof of that.

It's also painful to note that just as our nation's population is drifting away from church and Christianity - the polls are showing downturns in attendance and affiliation - the Republicans are acting more desperate to pander to the hard-core religious types whose inflexible dogmas and insisting of shoving Religion into everyone's private lives are driving people away in the first place.

We see the likes of Jindal here pandering over discriminating gays at all costs,  We had Jeb Bush as Governor pandering to the pro-fetus crowd over Terri Schiavo (which wasn't a pro-life fight as it was a quality-of-life, which a majority of sane people recognized).  And Huckabee, the worst of these false Judges of us.  We've got a Far Right Purity Purge wrapped around God And Guns (and Tax Cuts) pursuing a platform unpopular with most voters but still unpunished for doing so because our rigged electoral system keeps them safe...

Yeah, I know, I'm ranting.  I'd best leave off with this little tidbit for Jindal to chew on if he ever sees this:

Matthew 23:23: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Put that on your gay wedding cake and eat it.


dinthebeast said...

Perhaps if you were very wealthy, these policies might make sense to you? They really don't make sense to me, even when I seriously try to imagine them from a conservative mindset. Guess I'm just not wired that way. Also, they could be WRONG.

-Doug in Oakland

Paul Wartenberg said...

Wealth may distort their world-view just a bit - the simple fact that they cannot comprehend the painful lives of those who do not travel in the same paths they do - but there are other wealthy people who are not as blatantly sadistic the way the current GOP leadership gets. Look at how petty some of the legislation can get at the state level where the poor are forced to jump through more ridiculous hoops under the excuse of "preventing fraud"...