The Washington Post is reporting that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will announce his presidential bid today. But
the saddest thing about his announcement is not that this once-rising star with a real head for deep thoughts and a real taste for policy wonkery is running dead last in the polls these days – even behind the None of the Above option.
It is also not that he has so mismanaged his state's finances (after being a stalwart of school choice and pro-economic growth policies post-Katrina) that unhappy state legislators from his own party last year tried to stop paying for his security detail at presidential campaign events. (He balanced the Bayou State's yawning $1.6 billion deficit this month with gimmicks worthy of fake gurus such as the hugging amma including the SAVE fund that'll impose a $1,500 fee on college students that they'll be instantly credited in full but will allow the state to raise $350 million on paper.)
It is also not that he is despised in his own Indian American community even more than white Republicans (he is the only politician to get booed by the crowd at the Madison Square Garden rally for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last September, a remarkable accomplishment for the first Indian American governor.)
It is that a man who once lectured Republicans to stop being the stupid party — a la Mitt Romney's notorious comments about the 49 47 percent "takers" and the need for Hispanics to self-deport — and had the potential to be its thought leader is staking political positions that'll make him the proud standard bearer of the stupid party.
He wants to:
- out-oppose his party's opposition on gay marriage ("Polls indicate that the American consensus [that marriage is between a man and a woman] is changing — but like many other believers, I will not change my faith-driven view on this matter, even if it becomes a minority opinion.")
- out-spend the party on defense spending ("[We] cannot afford to not increase defense spending.)
- out-hysteric the party hysterics on the Muslim threat (he has refused to walk back his comment in London that Muslim immigrants have created "no-go zones" in Europe where non-Muslims are not welcome, which is demonstrably false.)
- out-hunker the hunker-down element by restricting admission of immigrants who allegedly cling to their native culture. ("I'm tired of the hyphenated Americans. No more 'African-Americans.' No more 'Indian-Americans.' No more 'Asian-Americans.'")
So far this strategy of machismo that has required trading in his (Rhodes scholar) thinking cap for cowboy boots and hunting guns hasn't won him too many friends inside or outside the GOP. But it is still early — and he's still a smart man, so film at eleven.