Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
And so another Republican politician, once viewed as a thoughtful leader and having national political potential, proves to be anything but. Is ivy leaguer Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal symbolic of what will make his party fail — or, in our sound bite, snarky, 21st century America, succeed?
Once upon a time this Rhodes scholar was considered a s-e-r-i-o-u-s GOP Presidential contender and a serious person. No more. Now you can almost hear Rod Serling’s narration as Jindal scrambles to woo people in the Republican Party’s Twilight Zone.
Gone are the days after the 2012 defeat of the Romney-Ryan ticket when Jindal told his party “If we want people to like us, we have to like them first,” and criticized the (truly) “stupid” remarks about rape made by some Republican conservatives who spent too much time listening to conservative talk shows. Gone are the days since Jindal’s 2007 election when many thought he’d be a problem-solving governor who wouldn’t pander 24/7 to those who crave partisan and ideological rhetorical red meat.
He’s symptomatic of a problem facing the Republican Party nationally: he can’t shed making assertions that are (ahem) factually challenged because he needs to constantly butter up the party’s conservative, primary-voting base. Pick something and repeat it, even if it’s not checked out. Repeat it again, even if it’s baloney. It’s all about repeating a mantra and insisting an error or misrepresentation is fact, and that and those who say otherwise are wrong (even if they’re right.)
At issue is an unsupported statement Fox News commentators made which Jindal echoed. The network and CNN apologized but not Jindal.
Fox’s terrorism specialist said some parts of Europe were “no go zones” where non-Muslims couldn’t go. One commentator said in the supposed “no zone” Birmingham in England, Sharia law was enforced. This ignited a European firestorm. Fox News apologized and Paris’ Mayor Anne Hidalgo threatened to sue.
Jindal? He doubled down more than KFC. He still talks of “no go zones” — despite no factual support. As The Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah notes, to Republicans, Muslims are the new gays.
But Jindal isn’t done with gays. He said he agrees with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz idea that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage there needs to be a constitutional amendment banning it.
Satirist Andy Borowitz simply couldn’t resist: “Jindal: Britain Has Zones That Only Welcome Hobbits,” proclaimed the headline to his piece which began:”LONDON – In a stunning claim that has stirred controversy around the world, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal asserted on Tuesday that Britain has specific zones where only Hobbits are welcome. Jindal said he learned about the so-called ‘Frodo zones’ while watching a documentary by the filmmaker Peter Jackson during his flight to London.”
It’s all about saying what the furthest right part of the party’s base wants to hear. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another wannabe, told some GOPers with zero evidence that higher employment numbers out of Washington are fake: “It’s been massaged, it’s been doctored,” he claimed. With some partisans, that’s all it takes: someone on their side flaps his lips, utters inaccurate words — and instant fact.
Still, there are limits.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — that living, breathing testament to Arizona Senator John McCain’s terrible judgment — gave a rambling, disjointed speech at the conservative Freedom Summit that sent many of her one-time conservative supporters scurrying away from her faster than Rand Paul fleeing a measles vaccination.
Palin is now the 21st century’s political Zsa Zsa Gabor: a celebrity famous for being famous, but not really famous for doing anything recently that deserves being famous. Palin now seems to have run her course as a to-be-taken-seriously sloganeering panderer of the far right.
Is Bobby Jindal now looking like a Palin wannabe who could one day suffer the same fate? You betcha.
And if Republicans don’t — OK, here comes that dirty word — moderate their red-meat rhetoric, is the party likely to lose the White House in 2016? You betcha.
The White House could be the GOP’s “no go” zone.
Copyright 2015 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He also writes for The Week’s online edition. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at www.mavenproductions.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joegandelman