Washington D.C.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bobby Jindal, fellow traveler

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

In the 1950s, when Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy convened hearings to root out Communists and their sympathizers from government, the military, the media and the entertainment industry, the term “fellow traveler” came into vogue. As used by McCarthy and his fellow demagogues, it described someone they suspected was sympathetic to Communist goals without actually joining the Communist Party.

  While charges of creeping Communism may seem as antiquated today as Sputnik or tail fins on automobiles, that term is now being thrown around by some opponents of the Common Core educational standards. Some even call the standards “Commie Core.” Sadly, Gov. Bobby Jindal, who shamelessly courts the most extreme right wing of the GOP in his quixotic quest for the presidency, has cast his lot with — and staked his political future on — the commie-baiters. How Jindal got to this point offers a stark lesson in modern political demagoguery.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rep. Steve Scalise whips rivals, becomes House Majority Whip on first ballot

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Rep. Steve Scalise speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in 2011. - CREATIVE COMMONS/GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Rep. Steve Scalise speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in 2011.

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, became the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives this afternoon when he was elected Majority Whip in the first round of balloting.

Scalise defeated the current chief deputy whip, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, as well as Rep. Marlin A. Stutzman of Indiana for the post. He succeeds Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, who ascended to Majority Leader after the reigning majority leader, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, was defeated last week in a primary and resigned the position.

Scalise has represented Louisiana's 1st Congressional District since 2008, and chairs the powerful Republican Study Committee.

So: what does a whip do? The Washington Post has a good primer on the duties, along with job descriptions for the two senior positions, Speaker of the House (currently held by Rep. John Boehner) and Majority Leader. For more on Scalise's sudden turn of good fortune, read Clancy DuBos' column this week, "Steve Scalise and the Butterfly Effect."

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Steve Scalise and the Butterfly Effect

Posted By on Sat, Jun 14, 2014 at 12:42 AM

The well-worn meme that a butterfly flapping its wings in the rain forest causes a tsunami on the other side of the planet may or may not be true in nature, but it often holds true in politics. Just ask Congressman Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson.

Scalise is currently considered a frontrunner for the House Majority Whip position, thanks to GOP voters in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. This past week, those voters dumped Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the second-highest ranking Republican in the House, in favor of a little-known economics professor who spent a small fraction of the millions that Cantor and his supporters poured into the primary.

If you’re wondering, the name of the butterfly in this story is David Brat, a 49-year-old professor at Randolph-Macon College.

The day after Brat upset Cantor in Virginia’s primary, Cantor announced he would step down as Majority Leader on July 31. That triggers a race for his successor, and the clear frontrunner is the current Majority Whip, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. If McCarthy runs for Majority Leader, as expected, it opens a race for Whip, and that’s where Scalise enters the picture.

GOP House members, who currently hold a majority, will meet behind closed doors on Thursday, June 19, to elect their new leaders. That vote could have profound implications for Louisiana if Scalise wins the No. 3 spot in the House.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why Bobby Jindal will never, ever be president: Part 3 in a series

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM

The man who won't be president. - CHERYL GERBER
  • The man who won't be president.

It's now Day 3 of my countdown of the top five reasons why Bobby Jindal will not be president in 2016, or ever, despite his non-stop campaigning in key caucus and primary states. We started on Tuesday with Reason #5 (He's from Louisiana — Duh!) and continued yesterday with Reason #4 (He doesn't "look presidential").

Now it's time to roll out Reason #3:

He’s too timid to be a frontrunner, and the GOP loves frontrunners. If the definition of boldness is the willingness to risk one’s political capital to pursue the greater good, Bobby Jindal is the opposite of bold. Given the choice between risking his political capital and playing it safe, you can count on Jindal to play it safe every time.

The only time in his six-year-plus tenure as governor that anyone called one of Jindal’s initiatives “bold” was when he pushed a plan to replace Louisiana’s middling income tax with the highest combined state and local sales tax rates in the nation. The plan was hatched by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and endorsed by every conservative think tank in the land, which hardly qualifies it as “bold.” If anything, it was a typical Jindal ploy; it played to the bleachers of the GOP’s most conservative chorus.

Why is this important?

Because you don’t get to the front of the pack by playing it safe. To be a frontrunner, you have to distinguish yourself. You don’t have to commit political suicide, but cheerleading louder than everyone else won’t suffice. You have to swim against the tide sometimes — as a matter of principle, not political expediency. Jindal has never done that, and he’s not likely to start. He just doesn't have it in him.

Consider the men who have captured the GOP presidential nomination in recent decades: Every one of them began the primary season as the frontrunner, and every one of them distinguished himself in some way that was not typically Republican.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why Bobby Jindal will never, ever be president: Part 2 of a series

Posted By on Wed, May 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM

The man who won't be president. - TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER
  • The man who won't be president.

Yesterday, I began counting down the top 5 reasons why Bobby Jindal will not be president — not in 2016, not ever. Reason number 5: He's from Louisiana — Duh!

Today I present reason #4: He doesn’t “look presidential.”

Admittedly, this sounds like a really shallow observation, but let’s face it: American presidential elections are basically popularity contests that focus largely on charisma and good looks, with some emphasis on philosophy thrown in for good measure. If voters (including those in party primaries) really focused on qualifications and experience more than appearances and other superficial qualities, Barack Obama would never have beaten Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008, and John McCain would have soundly defeated George W. Bush for the GOP nod in 2000. There are many other examples.

The importance of “looking presidential” infects both political parties, but let’s focus on the GOP, because that’s where Jindal has to compete. Consider the Republican presidential nominees of the past three decades:

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why Bobby Jindal will never, ever be president: Part 1 of a series

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2014 at 12:00 PM

The man who won't be president. - CHERYL GERBER
  • The man who won't be president.

For the past four years, maybe longer, it’s been the worst-kept secret in Louisiana politics: Bobby Jindal can’t wait to leave Louisiana and run for president. Despite his boilerplate “I have the job I want” response to early inquiries about his frequent fundraising trips to early caucus and key primary states, Jindal could never plausibly deny his higher ambitions.

So much so that he recently acknowledged that “everybody knows” he is “thinking” about it. Consider that a prelude to “praying over” his decision and “talking it over with his family” before officially announcing the obvious.

In typical Jindal fashion, the rollout of his budding candidacy was assiduously contrived. In late March, Jindal told the Heritage Foundation’s conservative news service, “It’s something we’re thinking about. It’s something we’ll pray about.”

In early April, he told an interviewer for National Public Radio, “There’s a practical benefit to having governors run for president.” Actually, the real “practical benefit” inures more to the candidates than to the country.

But even an eternal political optimist like Jindal must admit that he faces a long, uphill climb to win the Republican nomination, let alone the White House. At least a half-dozen — sometimes eight or nine — other Republicans consistently poll better than he among GOP voters looking to 2016.

Jindal supporters note that he’s still young, and that’s true. He’ll be 45 in the summer of 2016, which means he could factor into the next four presidential contests as a candidate or potential candidate.

For now, however, Jindal’s best shot at the White House appears to be on the coattails of a GOP presidential nominee as his or her vice presidential running mate. No one officially runs for vice president, of course. You have to start by running for president — and distinguish yourself without alienating the eventual nominee. That’s not easy for a guy whose stock in trade is bashing other politicians.

That’s just the beginning. If the nation (and the national media) ever takes a close look at Bobby Jindal, there’s liable to be plenty they won’t like.

Starting today and continuing through Friday, I’m going to count down five reasons why Bobby Jindal will not be president. I’ll present reasons 5 through 2 on this blog, but you’ll have to pick up a copy of Gambit on Sunday or Monday to read Reason #1.

Here we go:

5. He’s from Louisiana — Duh! We Louisianans love our state, with all of its eccentricities, but the rest of the country thinks of us as America’s crazy aunt in the attic, someone fun to visit but not someone you’d put in charge of the household. Politically, we have burnished our reputation as a cauldron of corruption, a banana republic that somehow attained statehood while America wasn’t looking. That’s hardly the launching pad for a conservative, button-down GOP candidate for president.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards announces run for U.S. Congress

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, wife Trina Scott Edwards and baby Eli at the Baton Rouge Press Club this afternoon, where Edwards announced he would run for the La. 6th District Congressional seat.
  • Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, wife Trina Scott Edwards and baby Eli at the Baton Rouge Press Club this afternoon, where Edwards announced he would run for the La. 6th District Congressional seat.

Former Gov. Edwin Edwards — four-time Louisiana governor, convicted felon and recent failed TV reality star — announced this afternoon at the Baton Rouge Press Club that he would be running for Louisiana's 6th District Congressional seat. 

"I haven't had this much attention since the trial," Edwards began, referring to the federal trial that landed him in prison for eight years. "I acknowledge there are good reasons why I should not run, but there are better reasons why I should," he said, "And good reasons should give way to better reasons.

"I'm positive I can run, and I'm confident I can win," Edwards told the clearly amused crowd, bringing up former President Ronald Reagan's famous quote: "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." He said he and his family had made the final decision to run a week and a half ago. 

When Reagan said that in 1984, he was 73 years old. Edwards is 86.

Saying "I did not vote for Obama. Where I was, there were no voting machines," Edwards told the crowd he would not have supported the Affordable Care Act, before adding that he also disapproved of Gov. Bobby Jindal's refusal to accept federal Obamacare funding. Edwards also said he wanted to be on the House Public Works and Agriculture committees, before launching into a long anecdote about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon. "Alea iacta est," he concluded — Latin for "the die is cast."

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Y@ Speak: shut it down

Posted By on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 11:25 AM

We pulled the plug, you guys. No more Karen, no more horrific D, no more government. The Saints have thrown opponents out of their own territories, enrapturing even David Vitter from resuming his duties. Twitter shut down gumbo-flavored Top Chef, and New Orleans dropkicked Tropical Something Karen into gorgeous fall-like weather. We still don't have a functioning governmental body but, well, the Pelicans look good. In today's Y@ Speak, we give a collective bird.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bobby Jindal on government shutdown: "We are no longer going to outsource the Republican brand to the folks in Washington"

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Gov. Bobby Jindal addresses the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in 2011. - GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Gov. Bobby Jindal addresses the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans in 2011.

Louisiana Gov. (and frequent editorialist) Bobby Jindal is also chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and in a commentary posted this morning on The Daily Caller, he sought to put plenty of air between GOP governors and the fiscal battles that have resulted in a partial shutdown of the U.S. government — particularly on the Republican side:

With all this dysfunction, Republican governors are not going to take a back seat to anyone in Washington anymore.

Up until now, we have just lived with the brand that Washington gave us. Republican governors don’t just talk about conservative ideas, we put them into action. The answers aren’t coming from Washington. Republican governors are driving the American comeback.

We are no longer going to outsource the Republican brand to the folks in Washington.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Video: Jindal on Meet the Press

Posted By on Sun, Aug 25, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Gov. Bobby Jindal appeared on Meet the Press this morning to discuss "The American Dream" (and get in a plug for his Louisiana education plan). The Washington Post seemed to find the most notable part of the appearance was Jindal's rejection of impeachment for President Barack Obama.

But what will undoubtedly get more attention in days and weeks to come is his most recent essay for Politico, which also appeared this morning — "The End of Race."

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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