Bobby Jindal Presidential Bid Underway

A long profile in today’s WaPo extolling Bobby Jindal as the Republican Party’s best hope to regain the White House may constitute the unofficial start of Campaign 2012.  It’s about time.

Last weekend, 18 days after Barack Obama decisively defeated their candidate for president, a mostly Republican crowd of self-described conservatives received their first introduction to someone many prominent members of the GOP think could be 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.

When one reaches the point of being seriously considered for the presidency of the United States, it’s long past time for academic credentials to have moved to the bottom of the resume. Jindal is a sitting governor who ran his state’s health and university systems and served in Congress; his successful undergraduate career is now a footnote.

Jindal insists he is ignoring all the speculation. In Cedar Rapids, at a breakfast event devoted to addressing this beleaguered city’s efforts to rebound from its disastrous flood last summer, he avoided any reference to 2012, staying focused on explaining Louisiana’s methods for coping with hurricane floods in emergencies on his watch.

It has been said that no politician travels to Iowa unless they’re running for president. Certainly, not from Louisiana.

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’s rise has indeed been meteoric and I do believe the next Republican president will be a youngish governor rather than a geriatric senator. But timing is everything. The best nominee might not be able to beat Obama in 2012 if things are looking up — and anyone might be able to knock him off if the economy is still in a slump.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    “Rhodes Scholar” is a very good tag, probably with few negatives (unless there is a Rhodes==Clinton connection among conservatives?).

    On the other hand “Grover Norquist” is a complete turn-off, signaling for me the shallowest conservatism (“I don’t care about X, as long as my taxes are cut”).

    If anybody has a link to Grover being wise or balanced, please share.

  2. Michael says:

    I was thinking that a Rhodes Scholar may turn away those who have been taught that intelligence is a bad trait. It would at least make the “liberal intelligentsia” meme hard to push.

  3. odograph says:

    I went searching myself and found this clip of Grover.

    They could have used someone reasonable to balance the Obamaistas, but he went so far off the map everyone laughed. Grover claimed that our stock market crash was the result of fear over Obama’s tax increases.

    Are you conservatives sure you even want to quote this guy?

  4. Jim Henley says:

    Americans are tired of the failed Obama Presidency!

  5. muffler says:

    This shows a standard trend of the GOP. They are busy trying to “package” a like product to sell. They haven’t got new ideas, but a new image is their way. It’s Image Over Content. When the GOP can rewrite their ideas and present a true secular alternative then maybe just maybe a leader will arise.

  6. Our Paul says:

    James, you failed to quote the key paragraph in the Wa Po’s glowing article Bobby Jindal, to wit:

    The record is still evolving, like the rest of him. But social conservatives like what they have heard about the public and private Jindal: his steadfast opposition to abortion without exceptions; his disapproval of embryonic stem cell research; his and his wife Supriya’s decision in 1997 to enter into a Louisiana covenant marriage that prohibits no-fault divorce in the state; and his decision in June to sign into law the Louisiana Science Education Act, a bill heartily supported by creationists that permits public school teachers to educate students about both the theory of “scientific design” and criticisms of Darwinian evolutionary concepts. (My Italics)

    That does not speak of an open mind, but of a zealot that talks to his own God, and accepts the dictum that he has to impose that God’s will on everybody else. Not a selling point to a majority of the population.

    There is no intent to rain on your party, but I question this:

    The best nominee might not be able to beat Obama in 2012 if things are looking up — and anyone might be able to knock him off if the economy is still in a slump.

    Let’s keep in mind that the toxic effects of Bush Administration will take time to clean up, and will remain prominent in the news. And of course, as pointed out by our brother’s at the Cato Institute, any advance in solving the Health Care problem will long be remembered…

  7. Triumph says:

    After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, it is important for Jindal to come clean about his relationship with terrorist elements in India.

    It is odd that we don’t know the full extent of his ties to his ancestral homeland. Given the fact that it is a hotbed for terror, these questions about his background are troubling.

  8. Anon says:

    On the other hand “Grover Norquist” is a complete turn-off, signaling for me the shallowest conservatism (“I don’t care about X, as long as my taxes are cut”).

    Well, I’m not sure if it is fair to criticize Jindal for a comment from Norquist. First, Jindal can’t control who the paper interviews. Second, politicians on all sides need to satisfy diverse constituencies to some degree.

    What’s interesting is that recently Jindal proposed some health care reforms that liberal bloggers like Ezra Klein are actually taking seriously.

    Even though I would unlikely vote for him in 2012, I would like to see a Jindal run. First, I think the Democrats do need an opposition that is concerned about policy to balance them out and help keep them moderate. In other words, the response to a Democratic proposal for more regulation should not be, “This bill is bad because Joe the Plumber thinks it’s bad. Also, it’s bad because you are terrorist, traitor, fascist, socialist, appeasing, surrender-monkey.” I think Jindal could wonk with the wonkiest of them, resulting in better government overall.

    Second, if the Republicans do win, I think the country could do fine under Jindal. I think it would be a disaster under Palin.

  9. odograph says:

    I did not mean to criticize Jindal, just the machine that trots out Norquist.

    I think a Battle of Immigrant Sons would be very interesting in 2012. And I’ll be open minded enough not to call my vote now 😉

  10. just me says:

    As if there is no machine on the democratic side.

    I like Jindal and have for a while, my real complaint is that it is only 2008 still and Obama isn’t even officially the president elect and we are already talking about 2012. I don’t remember perpetual elections 20 or 30 years ago, but not it seems like somebody is always running for president.

  11. odograph says:

    Ah Just, that’s why I’m happier as an independent.

  12. Michael says:

    As if there is no machine on the democratic side.

    I don’t think he was criticizing the existance of the machine, just the way it’s running.

    Obama isn’t even officially the president elect and we are already talking about 2012.

    Uh, he’s not?

  13. odograph says:

    It’s true, a well-oiled machine would be a thing to be proud of.

  14. What do you think about the Bobby Jindal exorcism story? It seems to me that in comparison to Palin (for whom her anti-abortion stance was the big religious story) Jindal seems like he is set up to be painted as an even more crazed Zealot.

  15. just me says:

    Uh, he’s not?

    No he is not. He isn’t officially the president elect after the electoral college meets to vote for him. For all intents and purposes he is, but it isn’t official until the college meets to vote.

  16. Michael says:

    No he is not. He isn’t officially the president elect after the electoral college meets to vote for him. For all intents and purposes he is, but it isn’t official until the college meets to vote.

    Oh, I thought you just mis-typed, didn’t realize you were getting technical.

  17. Triumph says:

    What do you think about the Bobby Jindal exorcism story?

    This should help him. After Obama’s horrible failure as President, the country is going to need someone who can personally exorcise the demons from the White House.

  18. sam says:

    Ahah! As I predicted, the coming attaction in the Republican Circus Party, the Palin-Lindal Deathmatch.

    And, as an aside, I would distrust anyone with a degree in biology (with honors, yet) who

    sign[ed] into law the Louisiana Science Education Act, a bill heartily supported by creationists that permits public school teachers to educate students about both the theory of “scientific design” and criticisms of Darwinian evolutionary concepts.

  19. mrbill says:

    He needs to drop a whole lot of the Christianist baggage to get to far. He still dabbles in the Intelligent Design mythology and creationist crap shoot.

    I like his smarts…but that stuff is not smart and will take a big hit. And I would drum Norquist out of the org solely for his Pan Arab nonsense. Him and Spencer Abraham are a dangerous group in this area.

  20. charles johnson says:

    Jindal’s policy positions are solidly right wing. Anti-abortion, pro-creationism, anti-gay people, anti-taxes. While that will appeal to older, less-educated, whiter, more southern people, it’s not a recipe for electoral success in the future. The benefit a huge Jindal loss in ’12 would have, though, is it would help teach the GOP that lesson.

  21. Chris says:

    A slight problem – if the next Republican presidential primary is between Jindal, Palin and Huckabee, who does the moderate, non-insane Republican vote for?

  22. Michael says:

    A slight problem – if the next Republican presidential primary is between Jindal, Palin and Huckabee, who does the moderate, non-insane Republican vote for?

    Obama, obviously.

  23. […] people start talking about prospects for 2012 Presidential candidates, the correct response is not to soberly consider possibilities. […]

  24. James Joyner says:

    A slight problem – if the next Republican presidential primary is between Jindal, Palin and Huckabee, who does the moderate, non-insane Republican vote for?

    It’s too early on Jindal, I think. He’s an incredibly smart, competent guy. I’m not thrilled with his religiousity-policy mix but Louisiana isn’t the country and I believe in federalism. His presidential platform may well be more practical.