Next GOP Campaign to Alienate Independent Voters

The news out of Trinidad and Tobago this morning has Obama signalling a new beginning in Western Hemisphere relations, including with Cuba and Venezuela. The GOP will react by refighting the Cold War, complete with sugar cane to go with the teabags. That will further alienate independent voters. Republican FAIL again.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It’s going to be Cuba, folks. The GOP is going to get a bunch in their underwear about Barack Obama working to change the direction of US policy towards Cuba. There’s a photo on virtually every front page int he country today with Barack Obama shaking hands with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Obama recently eased restrictions on the long, long economic embargo of Cuba. That’s enough ammunition for the whack jobs in the GOP to seize on this. Perhaps the sex-crazed teabagging didn’t alienate enough independent voters (MSNBC has video), so they’ll work this issue. From the Washington Post we have a glimpse of yesterday’s actions, which will spark the faux Republican outrage:

“The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” Obama countered in his own speech. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day.” Earlier this week, Obama lifted restrictions on travel to the island by Cuban Americans.

The administration has been careful to accompany its outreach to Cuba with demands that the government allow more political and personal freedoms before the embargo is lifted. “They’re certainly free to release political prisoners,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters yesterday. “They’re certainly free to stop skimming money off the top of remittance payments as they come back to the Cuban island. They’re free to institute a greater freedom of the press.”

But events appeared to be outpacing the administration’s efforts to adjust its Cuba policy on its own terms. Earlier yesterday, the secretary general of the Organization of American States said he would ask its membership to readmit Cuba – ejected in 1962 at U.S. urging – when that organization meets next month. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress to lift all travel restrictions and ease the embargo.

And it was not at all clear that Cuba is ready to grasp the olive branch Obama is extending.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that a reported willingness by Cuban President Ra–ºl Castro to discuss “everything” with the United States was a “welcome overture.” Her comments followed news accounts from Cuba that quoted Castro as expressing willingness to talk with the United States about “human rights, press freedom, political prisoners, anything they want to discuss,” as long as it was a conversation between “equals” that respected Cuba’s sovereignty.

There we have it, Obama reaching out to mend fences and begin with a new relationship with Cuba. His handshake with Hugo Chavez can be seen in the same light. There’s nothing here, though, to indicate that Barack Obama is giving away the store or anything. He’s simply showing himself and his administration as ready to improve those relations, and he’s getting at least a glimmer of positive response from Chavez and Castro. How could the Republicans possibly try to exploit that? Well, you can bet they will.

The Republican teabagging debacle played to the Republican whackjob base and alienated independents partly because of its ludicrous imagery and the whackjobs it attracted, but it also alienates because with its rallying against supposed socialism it is fighting the Cold War again, 20 years after the Cold War ended. The only vestige we have of the Cold War now is the relationship the US holds towards Cuba and Venezuela. Just take a look at how Presidents of the past dealt with Cuba. The results have been almost no change in Cuba, and a hardening of the radicals on the subject. But, hey, those radicals on the subject of Cuba are already voting Republican, and the small “c” notion of conservatism suspicious of change of any kind is a notion they embrace, even when conservative voices such as The Economist in December called for change in the US stance towards Cuba:

All this means that for the Castros, Barack Obama may turn into a far more formidable foe than his predecessors. The danger starts with his example: after all, a young, black, progressive politician has no chance of reaching the highest office in Cuba, although a majority of the island’s people are black. Mr Obama has already promised to reverse the restrictions on remittances and travel by Cuban-Americans imposed by Mr Bush. Once he is in office, the new president should go further and urge Congress to lift the embargo altogether. It is wrongheaded and ineffective. If it went, Cubans would know they had nobody except their rulers to blame for their plight.

That’s good policy thinking there. 50 years of the US embargo on Cuba has done nothing, so why not make a change, show the Cuban people what change means to them and their lives? There’s a lot of chance for success here, and the next three and a half years could see a thaw in relations where tourism flourishes in Cuba and Americans in general come to embrace happier relations with the country. Oh, the Republicans will howl that easing the embargo and encouraging tourism will put money in Cuba’s economy, but they’ll appeal only to the GOP base, and will alienate independents, if this issue shows up on the radar screen of anyone at all but the Republican base.

That’s the bottom line, I suppose. The Republicans will try to fight the Cold War all over again by whining about Obama’s attempts to change policy towards Cuba. Not a doubt about that. The leaders of the Republican Party, Hannity and Limbaugh and Gingrich and G. Gordon Liddy, will whine and howl, but nobody really cares besides the hardcore Republican base. Sure, much of that base consists of Cuban-Americans in Florida, but I’m thinking even they will be won over eventually as they are able to visit relatives and see their homeland. And surely the Cuban-Americans do not rive the Latino vote in this country, not if you look at the results of the last Presidential race.

The big thing is that the Republicans will stand foursquare in the way of progress and reconciliation on this issue as just another facety of their “Just Say No” agenda. They’ll likely put together sugar cane parties to go with the teabagging (is there a sexual innuendo to go with “sugar cane?”). Mojitos will be downed among Republicans, or poured into the Miami harbor, or whatever, and independent voters will be turned off.

Ah, Republicans are so predictable!

Saturday, April 18th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Seat Senator Franken, Minnesotans Say

Al Franken has won the Senate race in Minnesota, but for Norm Coleman spending Republican money to appeal. Now a poll shows that Minnesotans want the race over and a Senator representing them now. Senator Franken. Pawlenty is running more of a political risk here than he thinks.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The poll is from Public Policy Polling and shows overwhelming support by Minnesotans for Norm Coleman conceding the election and for Governor Tim Pawlenty certifying Al Franken as winner of the Senate race. Here’s a bit about the poll from Public Policy Polling’s web site:

63% of voters in the state think that Coleman should just concede the race himself. That
includes almost all of Franken and Dean Barkley’s supporters, as well as a third of
respondents who voted for Coleman last fall.

59% express support both for Pawlenty certifying Franken as the winner and for Franken
being seated immediately.

While Democrats and Republicans predictably have different views about the various
issues related to resolving the election, it’s notable that independent voters fall on
Franken’s side with 61% thinking Coleman should concede and 54% saying Franken
should be certified and seated.

“With the ruling of the three judge panel it appears that most Minnesota voters are now
ready for this election be over,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.
“Folks seem to think that Franken is the rightful winner and that he should be allowed to
take his seat instead of the process being dragged out further.”

Yes, there will be risks for both Coleman and Pawlenty if they keep the appeals going. Pawlenty, of course, could certify the results while allowing Norm Coleman to keep his farce going, but I expect Pawlenty to keep supporting Coleman so he can appeal to the GOP base in three years. Sure, it might actually help Pawlenty win the Republican nomination for President, but it might also cost him the vote from Minnesota. What chance would he have in 2012 if he couldn’t carry his home state?

As to the poll, it is also interesting that there’s little difference in opinion along racial or gender lines. This might be partisan, but it isn’[t breaking divisively in other ways.

Thursday, April 16th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Preemptive Republican Whining

The GOP filed a challenge to yesterday’s Congressional election in New York before the election was even finished, much less the votes counted. They will be appealing the 2012 Presidential election tommorrow.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Here’s the story from Firedoglake concerning the special Congressional election in New York state:

The Dutchess County Clerk’s Office has confirmed to FDL that Tedisco’s people have filed an ex parte motion in order, the effect of which would be to investigate and overturn today’s election results, should the outcome not be to Republicans’ liking.

What you don’t see here is that this piece was filed at 12:26 pm on election day. Yes, the Republicans challenged the election before it was over.

I’m thinking the next step for Republicans is simply to challenge elections in general in court. That way they won’t have to repeatedly file their whining lawsuits. It isn’t like elections are constitutional, after all.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Romney PAC Supports Romney, GOP Candidates? Not So Much

The Boston Globe reports that Mitt Romney’s PAC, the Free and Strong America PAC, was designed to support Republican candidates, but has instead been used to support Mitt romney’s chances in 2012, including employing many of his former campaign staffers. Look at the Repubs he supported, power brokers and whack jobs. Pitiful.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

When he lost the nomination for President from his Party, Mitt Romney focused on his PAC, the Free and Strong America PAC. The goal of the PAC was to support Republican candidates, but the Boston Globe reports that only 12% of the funds actually went to support those candidates. Here’s the scoop from the Boston Globe:

Republican Mitt Romney is laying the groundwork for a possible White House campaign in 2012, hiring a team of staff members and consultants with money from a fund-raising committee he established with the ostensible purpose of supporting other GOP candidates.

The former Massachusetts governor has raised $2.1 million for his Free and Strong America political action committee. But only 12 percent of the money has been spent distributing checks to Romney’s fellow Republicans around the country.

Instead, the largest chunk of the money has gone to support Romney’s political ambitions, paying for salaries and consulting fees to over a half-dozen of Romney’s longtime political aides, according to a Globe review of expenditures.

Romney founded the Free and Strong America Committee shortly after dropping out of the 2008 presidential primary. He filled its coffers by telling conservative contributors around the country that their money would be used to support Republican candidates and causes.

According to the Globe analysis, he spent $244,000 on contributions to congressional and other candidates between April and the November elections. He has spent more than twice as much on staff salaries and contracts to hire professional fund-raisers, who are compiling contributor lists that will serve Romney well in a future presidential campaign.

In essence, Romney is financing a political enterprise that he can use to remain a national GOP leader and use as a springboard should he decide to launch another presidential bid for 2012.

What the Romney funds from the Free and Strong America PAC went for was for Romney to stump around the country for Republican candidates, and I suppose that would have been fine, but as a strategy for his future political aspirations, Romney spent money far better keeping his face in front of voters than he did for the Republican candidates. In a follow-up article from UPI, Romney’s people are a bit honest about that purpose:

“The main purpose of Mitt Romney’s PAC is to enable him to travel around the country on virtually a full-time basis to campaign and raise funds for candidates and to promote policies that will strengthen America,” Fehrnstrom said.

Still, that statement conflicts from the Boston Globe report. It’s an attempt to put out the fire. But let’s say Romney WAS working for those candidates. His web site has a list of the candidates he supported. How did they do?

Well, Romney’s money was spent on some sure winners, like Thad Cochran, Lamar Alexander, James Inhofe, Jeff Sessions and Dana Rohrabacher, for instance. did those candidates really need a boost from Mitt romney? No, they needed neither the money nor Romney’s appearances. But Romney needs these heavy hitters if he has a chance in 2012, that’s for sure. There’s the real reason he made an effort on their behalf.

Romney also spent some money on some losers. Gordon Smith, John McCain, Sarah Palin, etc. I’m thinking Romney’s efforts did zero good in helping these candidates. But some of these candidates are very popular on the extremist right wing of the GOP, so Romney standing next to, say, a Sarah Palin, probably helps his stock among the whack job religious conservatives who are still suspicious of Romney’s funny underwear. Hey, the Mormon Church is taking a beating what with its supoort of Proposition 8, and I’m thinking that probably helps Romeny in the extremist Christian wing of his party. Still, he’s got to go a long way to heal that rift.

And then Romney supported certifiable whack jobs like Michelle Bachman and Saxby Chambliss. If Romney has any hope of reaching across the aisle and drawing independents to his side, he needs to ditch these folks, but it appears his aim with the Free and Strong America PAC was to elect Republicans, not to elect people who are for a free America. Bachman is on record wanting to rid the Congress of members who

Thursday, March 26th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

GOP Catfight Brewing In TX: Palin v. Hutchinson

Is there a cat fight brewing between two of the most prominent Republican women in the country, Kay Bailey Hitchinson and Sarah Palin? If so, Palin has scratched first, endorsing Rick Perry for Texas Governor over Hutchinson. This could be a very interesting race that pits GOP Christian conservatives against old guard Republicans.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I suppose someone might have seen this coming back in the fall, when Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was passed over the nomination as John McCain’s VP nominee in favor of Sarah Palin. Well they were both in TV news at one point, and they are both of huge value to the NRA, but it seems this cat fight is about abortion.

One thing is sure concerning the Palin nomination over Hutchinson – if Kay Bailey wasn’t pissed, she sure was channelling that feeling to at least one reporter. From NewsMax, the transcript of some candid comments on MSNBC last September:

Peggy Noonan: Yeah.

Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys – this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it’s not gonna work. And…

Noonan: It’s over.

Murphy: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

Todd: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

Noonan: Saw Kay this morning.

Todd: Yeah, she’s never looked comfortable about this.

Murphy: They’re all bummed out.

Todd: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

Noonan: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this – excuse me – political bullshit about narratives…

Todd: Yeah, they went to a narrative.

Murphy: I totally agree.

Noonan: Every time the Republicans do that, because that’s not where they live and it’s not what they’re good at, they blow it.

I’m thinking Noonan and Murphy were wrong. Hutchinson and Palin are alike in several hard core Republican issues, such as gun control, and they are both women. Good candidates, except, of course, that Hutchinson can put together a sentence and Palin needs some help with that difficult task. There’s too big differences between the two. Hutchinson is older by 20 years, and thus couldn’t have balanced out McCain’s age on the ticket, and the kicker. Hutchinson supports Roe v. Wade, with restrictions. Palin is banking on the virulent anti-abortion extremist Christian vote in four years. So what does Sarah Palin do the other day? Palin endorses Rick Perry, despite that he’s rumored to be gay, because Rick Perry is the darling of the extremist right wing Christian conservatives down there in Texas. (Reports on Palin’s endorsement of Perry can be found in both the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal.) Here’s a few quips about Perry from Palin from the Monitor:

“He walks the walk of a true conservative,” she said of Perry. “And he sticks by his guns – and you know how I feel about guns.”

. . .

“Not every child is born into ideal circumstances, but every life is sacred,” Palin wrote. “Rick Perry knows this – it is at the core of his being.”

There’s the ticket. Sarah Palin is beginning her 2012 Presidential run in Texas appealing to the extremist right wing Christian crowd by backing Rick Perry over Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the Governor’s race. Texas has a lot of delegates, so it seems a smart political move for Palin, but time will tell on that, of course. One wonders, of course, if her backing of Perry also has to do with Hutchinson’s luke warm response to Palin’s Vice Presidential candidacy. Is this a form of payback? Now that’s old fashioned politics we all know and love, isn’t it?

Well, it cannot be denied that Hutchinson was luke warm to Palin last fall. An article in the Dallas Morning News on September 4, 2008 shows Hutchinson as a bit less than inspired by Palin, and lots of folks last fall were wondering why McCain picked Palin over Hutchinson (like here) if he wanted a woman on the ticket. But I’m thinking this is not Sarah Palin playing hardball and getting back at Hutchinson, who for the most part played the good GOP soldier after McCain picked Palin. This is simply a case of Sarah Palin snubbing the woman in a shrewd poltiical move to enegrize the extremist right wing Christians she will need if she decides to run for President.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Palin Caught Lying to GOP House Members

Sarah Palin was invited to give a speech to GOP House members at their annual winter retreat and she stiffed them in order to attend the Alfalfa Club and meet Barack Obama. There’s a punch line there, but I’m not touching it.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

ABC’s The Note has the story. It seems the GOP House members have an annual Winter Retreat and they had asked Sarah Palin to give a speech to motivate the attendees. She said she couldn’t go because of commitments in Alaska. then she shows up for the Alfalfa Club Dinner, and followed that with a trip to Texas. Here’s a bit of The Note’s report:

Retreat organizers tell ABC News that Palin politely declined, giving a perfectly understandable reason. According to the Congressional Institute, which hosted the conference, Palin said she simply could not make it to the retreat because pressing state business made it impossible for her to leave Alaska this weekend.

So where is Palin this weekend? She’s in Washington, D.C., attending the super-elite Alfalfa Dinner.

“She lied to us,” said a Republican at the retreat.

. . .

Asked about Palin’s no-show, House Republican leader John Boehner shrugged.

“Whatever,” Boehner said.

I’m sure Sarah Palin will be able to count on their support for her run for the Presidency in 2012. What a complete F-up she is!

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

10,000 Whack Jobs Leading GOP

It is hard to tell the whack job Chiefs from the whack job indians in the Republican Party, harder indeed every single day. That’s the first task to rebuilding the GOP brand, but it will be a long time before they recognize that. Meantime, 10,000 whack jobs sign a petition to impeach Obama from the Senate, a body from which he has already resigned.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The petition to impeach Barack Obama from the Senate has reached 10,000 signatures. The whack jobs may not have noticed that Obama has resigned from the Senate already. Oh, we can make fun of these whack jobs, and they mightily deserve it, but it is disturbing to me to imagine what the thinking processes of people such as this are like. Here’s the petition, which includes all the crimes they identify against Obama, and here is the list of signatories. (The end of the list is the best part.)

This is all about leadership, of course. Whack jobs are not generally going to be led to sanity, of course, but leadership in the Republican Party is lacking, either in sanity or in numbers. For instance, as I noted a couple days ago, the Republicans are going to have to try and replace George Voinovich seen, according to the latest reports. Chris Cillizza speculates on who will succeed Voinovich, and notes that the Republican bench in Ohio is strong, as opposed to the Democrats, but Cillizza doesn’t note that the radical religious right has a stranglehold on the Ohio Republican Party, and that will spell serious trouble in their selection of a more moderate candidate, and also in getting their candidate elected. The prediction here is they will opt for a whack job for their leadership.

Like Norm Coleman. These whack jobs will evidently defend Norm Coleman at all costs, even to the end of displaying their inability to read. This is the leadership of the GOP thinking 37% is a majority, not some lone whack job with a petition. I’m beginning to think the severe hatred of Al Franken has brought out the inner whack job in the Republican Party leaders, not that that inner whack job was hiding very effectively. Hey, Norm Coleman himself is such a whack job that he claims he loves Minnesota at the same time he wants to deny their representation in the Senate. Sure, losing can unhinge a candidate, but this guy’s hinges were barely hanging on in the first place.

The question is not about who is leading the whack jobs and their insane conspiracy theories, but whether the leaders of the Republican Party will ever wake up and recognize that they are being led by the whack job wing of their party so much that the term “whack job” has become an intimate part of the Republican brand. Sure, one reads the phrase “failed Obama Presidency” in the latest P. J. O’Rourke column and if one is a Democrat one giggles a little, just before thinking that there likely are many whack job Republicans, both in the leadership and the ignorant rank and file, for whom the phrase “failed Obama Presidency” is historically accurate, even though it refers to something in the future.

Hey, Haley Barbour, this problem you’ve got with the Republican Party repairing its brand is far worse and far different than what you report to the Wall Street Journal. Here’s one commentator who doesn’t think you’re going to figure out the enormity of your task for a very long time. Indeed, here’s one commentator who can’t tell whether there are any Republicans left who are NOT whack jobs.

Monday, January 12th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

HuffPo Shames TeamSarah

TeamSarah is a web site established by a right wing anti-choice group and its mission is to tout Sarah Palin for VP this year, and for Pres in 2012. There’s been a whole lot of ugly racist and hateful talk there of late, and it was exposed by Geoffrey Dunn of Huffington Post. Amazingly, he shamed them into controlling their trolls. Wow!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Shame? Could it really be that a Republican web site has shame? It seems so today. And that most Christian emotion of shame was brought to the TeamSarah web site by Geoffrey Dunn of HuffPo, among others.

Geoffrey wrote an article at Huffington Post the other day detailing the racism and ugliness at the web site deidicated to boosting the Sarah Palin legend, TeamSarah. Seems there were watermelon jokes, nasty comments suggesting assassination of Obama, attacks on Michelle Obama. Heck, the folks on TeamSarah were living up to Ann Coulter’s fine example as they rallied for their hero, Sarah Palin. (Evidently, some members of Palin’s Administration have been caught in the ugliness as well.)

Hey, I’m not sure there’s a direct causal relationship here, but after Geoffrey Dunn’s article on HuffPo, one of their moderators wrote a piece asking the folks on Team Sarah to tone it down. Here’s Moderator Emily’s words, direct from the TeamSarah web site:

On Team Sarah, we uphold the supreme dignity of all humans, born and unborn. We do not tolerate comments that can be perceived as racist or hateful. This is not in spirit of our mission and certainly not representative of Sarah Palin’s values. Any comments deemed demeaning or inappropriate will be removed from the site immediately, even if they are made in jest.

This may be the very first time a right wing whack job web site (and how could they not be whack jobs if they are boosting Sarah Palin) has commanded its constituency to tone it down on the racism and hatefulness. I’m betting that spells the death knell for the TeamSarah web site, as the haters and racists will now go somewhere else to play. Not a smart marketing decision is they are trying to attract the whack jobs, is it? But I suppose I’ve got to give them points for trying.

Meanwhile, has anyone heard whether Bristol Palin has finally given birth? Hey, and what is the boy’s name going to be? I’m pushing “Lugnut,” but what do I know? Given the boy’s grandmother’s plight, maybe he’ll be called Oxy?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

Repubs Want Another Helping of Palin

The anticipated field for 2012 was tested by Gallup, and whole bunches of Republicans want Sarah Palin to run. If they’™d polled Democrats she would have gotten even more support, as we know, if the Republicans do not, that she’™s unelectable.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

The latest Gallup poll of Republicans and self-identified Republican ‘œleaners’ is out. They asked the respondents who they wanted to run for President in 2012. Sarah Palin was the runaway winner. Here it is from Tampa Bay Online:

No sooner had Barack Obama won the presidential election than pundits started looking to 2012 and possible Republican challengers. A Gallup Poll asked people to rank the top 10 candidates they would like to run. Topping the list: Sarah Palin (67 percent), Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Second to last: Gov. Charlie Crist (23 percent), one below former Gov. Jeb Bush (31 percent). The telephone poll was taken Nov. 5-16 and included 799 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Perhaps the Republicans who responded to this can understand Palin’™s sentences, while the rest of us just stare in wonder as she speaks. Or maybe they are concerned for Tina Fey’™s livelihood?

I suppose what is most interesting here is the poor quality of the rest of the named field. Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush? Both have substantial problems getting nominated. Otherwise, this list is a rehash of this last election and primary, a whole bunch of uninspiring choices.

Sunday, November 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Bobby Jindal and the GOP Love of “Post-Racial”

Bobby Jindal is the darling of the Republican Party, especially the extremists on the religious right. They see him as competent, as socially conservative and as an example to themselves that they are beyond race. The GOP hasn’™t adequately parsed its difficulties with race, and some of their members might see Jindal as Apu of the Simpsons.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I was talking with my friend Jeff the other day. He’™s a Pastor of a mainstream denomination church in a conservative part of California. I made a comment like. . . ‘œIt isn’™t that all Republicans are racist, of course,’ formulating thoughts as I went along. Then Jeff finished the statement quite well ‘” ‘œit’™s just that for so many white people for whom race is an issue, they’™re Republican.’ I think you might be able to say the same about the issue of immigration, too, that the anti-immigration nativists tend to be Republicans, and many of them are so because they see white people becoming the minority in this country. All that said, it seems to me the Republican Party has a hugely complicated problem with race in its ranks. So the powers that be in the GOP end up presenting us with Bobby Jindal.

Everyone, though seems a bit coy about Jindal on the subject of race. The news media often talks about Barack Obama as a black man, or as an African American. The Washington Post this morning, in a profile piece of Jindal, calls him ‘œnonwhite.’ (Time’™s profile of a few years ago refers not to race but to Jindal’™s ‘œethinicity’) They catalog Jindal’™s supporters, who include Grover Norquist among the fiscal hawks of the GOP, and Tony Perkins from the social conservative wing of the GOP, all the while touting Jindal’™s bona fides for governance in Louisiana and also his extremist social conservative stances:

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 ‘œscientific design’ and criticisms of Darwinian evolutionary concepts.

He voted with his caucus in Congress 97% of the time and gets a 100% pro-life voter rating from the National Right to Life Committee, and also a 100% rating from the NRA, and 0% on lgbt issues from the Human Rights Campaign. (Wikipedia) It is pretty clear that Bobby Jindal has worked hard to appeal to the extremist religious wing of the GOP on those issues, but it just might be that those issues are the real Bobby Jindal. It just may be that Bobby believes that the life of a woman is not as important and the life of the child she is carrying. Certainly Jindal’™s religious record reflects the kind of zeal on often sees in converts (he is converted to Catholocism from the Hindu beliefs of his parents). What’™s that? Jindal wrote an article on witnessing spiritual possession? That demon over on the left is the illustration that goes with the Jindal article about exorcism in the Oxford Review. I think it can be safely said that Bobby Jindall has made himself in the Christian conservative ranks.

But has Jindal unmade his ethnicity enough? Sure, Bobby renamed himself at the ripe old age of four after Bobby Brady on the Brady Bunch. How cute. But in India, where they are very proud of Jindal, they insist he is still Piyush, with all the ethic baggage that carries with it. They claim Jindal uses ‘œPiyush’ on all official documents, for instance. So he’™s not hiding his race. No. Not at all. And the Republicans who love Bobby Jindal, they’™re sure not counting on their constiuency to be ‘œpost-racial,’ are they? Not so fast, not so fast.

I suppose that’™s the issue that niggles at me. In today’™s Washington Post, Krissah Williams Thompson notes that she’™s not post-racial, that the campaign trail this year wasn’™t ‘œpost-racial,’ even on the Democratic side, and that even the Barack Obama campaign does not give credit to this ‘œpost-racial’ notion:

In his speeches, Obama has never defined the kind of unity he seeks. It was commentators who dubbed his campaign a post-racial one and who have now declared that we live in a post-racial America. As Obama puts together his Cabinet, blogs and message boards are going crazy with discussions of whether he should be expected to appoint a team that’™s more racially diverse than were those of his recent predecessors. Others argue that his ‘œpost-racial’ campaign should not succumb to such quotas.

What the president-elect said about race eight months ago in a speech in Philadelphia, which he called ‘œA More Perfect Union,’ was much more complex than any cliched notion of unity. He described the country as being at a racial stalemate. ‘œContrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle,’ Obama said.

Cassandra Butts, a senior Obama adviser who is African American, told the Wall Street Journal in the closing days of the campaign that she doesn’™t consider Obama ‘œa post-racial’ politician. ‘œWhen people say that, they seem to suggest that we are beyond the issue of race, that issues of race don’™t matter,’ she said. ‘œI don’™t think that is necessarily the case. I don’™t think Barack considers himself post-racial in that way. He will tell you he thinks race does matter.’

I agree. For me, the goal has never been negating race through colorblindness ‘” to do so would take a healthy discussion of existing racial disparities off the table. My aim is not for us to be post-racial but to embrace our cultural heritages while refusing to be confined by them.

That last bit is the part I think Bobby Jindal and the Republicans are ignoring. This isn’™t about colorblindness. Color in our society has some pretty shameful connotations, certainly, but we can also celebrate color. I need not reflect on chains and on fire hoses when I think of black, but can also think of Odunde, of beauty. It isn’™t our job to ignore racial difference, but to value it. ‘œPost-racial,’ then, is a bit of a bunch of crap if one thinks of it as ‘œbeyond’ racial distinction. And that appears to me to be how Bobby Jindall has packaged himself, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Jindal is no longer Piyush, for instance, but Bobby. He is no longer a worshiper of those strange Hindu Gods, but is a very conservative Catholic in the Rick Santorum mold. He talks in a folksy bayou lilt, and never seems to refer to his racial background or ethnicity. I’™m thinking that’™s not what won people over for Obama, and it isn’™t any kind of reflection of what we’™ve got going on in this country today as far as race relations are concerned. there were many, many people on the right for whom race played a vital role in their not voting for Barack Obama. At least some of those Republicans are going to see through the Jindal disquise and see him as Piyush, the dark-skinned man who has a very white wife.

What is interesting, I suppose, is the standard evaluation that racism as a factor in voting is more prevalent in the South. The Republicans must be thinking that Jindal won in Louisiana, so race must not be a handicap for him, and besides, his name is ‘œBobby.’ If that’™s how they’™re thinking, my gut tells me they have it wrong, that they haven’™t adequately guaged the racism that lurks within their own party structure. I’™m thinking Bobby Jindal as GOP nominee for President in 2012 is a train wreck waiting to happen, that a whole bunch of the Republican rank and file are not going to see Jindal the good politician but Jindal the convenience store owner who is married to a white woman, and they just might reject that image. Were I Jindal, I’™d try 2016. The man is instead giving speeches in Iowa. Still, he’™s not a stupid man, so maybe he’™ll avoid testing the Republican constiuency until they mature just a bit more.

Sunday, November 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |