Bobby Jindal announced his run for the presidency yesterday with a video — probably because it’s too expensive to pay actors to fill a room. There is no doubt that he’s a long-shot. For the past six months, he’s had a string of embarrassments. Most notably, he went to the UK to talk about the supposed “no-go zones” in London. He was widely mocked in the British press. Lucky for Jindal, the American press is much nicer about this kind of thing. To me, the biggest thing about Jindal is his social conservative bent. He is normally a Catholic, but he sounds like an evangelical. He follows the church’s teaching when it comes to homosexuality and abortion and pretty much nothing else. (Note: the Catholic church is not easy for liberals or conservatives.)
But Jonathan Bernstein has a positive take on the candidacy, Bobby Jindal’s 2016 Bid Makes Sense. He noted that the race is actually wide open. Jindal may be polling at number 15 (which puts him below some people who haven’t officially announced), but a lot could change, “Jindal — like Chris Christie, who is apparently moving ahead with his own effort — has correctly assessed that the Republican front-runners are weak enough that a long shot could win the nomination.” So why not?
Think back to the 2012 Republican nomination fight. It seemed that every week there was a new front runner. But 2016 was supposed to be different because there were going to be some top tier candidates. I don’t even know what that means anymore. The Republicans have a problem in that they really don’t disagree about anything. Every once in a while, someone will come out in favor of immigration reform, only to be shouted down. So who is in the lead is more or less random — based upon the most recent news. (Check this out: Donald Trump currently polls in second place in New Hampshire.)
Remember that Newt Gingrich got 137 electoral votes in the primary. If he had been a reasonable candidate, he could have caught fire and gone the whole way. And he wasn’t even trying hard. Consider, more tellingly, Herman Cain. Had he been a real candidate, he probably would have won. The truth is that the Republican base is desperate to vote for an African American who will tell them that race is not an issue and that they are the true victims. And I think Jindal fits that bill very well. The Republicans, after all, are proud of having the two whitest Latinos in the world — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The fact that Jindal in Indian, doesn’t matter.
It is a crap shoot. But sure: Jindal has a shot. I certainly think he has a better shot than Chris Christie does. But the fact that he has a shot is more a reflection of the Republican Party than it is of him. The truth is that the party has little to offer. So they are all going to stand on the debate state and pander to the base. We will see which one of them can be more against immigration or more for destroying the Islamic State and just generally be more “real America.” Jindal could catch a break. So could almost any of them. Just like in 2012.