October 2008

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Jindal 2012?

Ross Douthat and Chris Orr debate the question.

From Orr:

Now, yes, four years is a longer time in politics than it used to be. But I still don't see these toxins leaching out that quickly, particularly from a GOP that will, in all likelihood, continue trying to raise subliminal doubts about Obama's Americanness. Add to this the blunt fact that the GOP probably can't afford to lose racist white voters, especially in the South (you think a Jindal - Obama race wouldn't invite a conservative, white, third-party candidacy?), and I think Jindal's chance of being the nominee in 2012 is, despite his obvious talents, pretty close to nil. The GOP isn't going to be looking for its own Obama; it's going to be looking for an anti-Obama.

To which Douthat responds:

If anything, I think the way the McCain campaign has finished up - and the way the media has covered it - works to Jindal's advantage in 2012: Conservatives are going to be extremely eager to prove that they only hate Obama because he's a radical, not because they're racist, and what better way to demonstrate that than to nominate a dark-skinned conservative with a funny-sounding name? Indeed, much of the current affection for Jindal among movement conservatives - and especially in talk-radio land - can be traced to precisely such a yearning for a conservative Obama: A multicultural prince who channels Ronald Reagan, and whose nomination would at least reduce the taint of racism that clings to the American Right.

I agree with Douthat on this one and think Orr is letting his own Republican stereotypes cloud his analysis here. As Douthat notes, Jindal has already overcome his "otherness" by getting elected in Louisiana. Furthermore, playing the "otherness" card against a President Obama won't exactly bring the same rewards as playing it against a first-term senator. It all depends on where the country is then of course, but the GOP will rely on the liberal card with some degree of "Had enough?" due to the Democratic Congress.