Okay, Bobby Jindal, we get it. You are totally running for President in 2016. Take it down a notch.
You guys noticed this, right? Just in case you didn't, take it from me: Bobby Jindal will be one of the people running for president in 2016, guys. 'You can basically lock that in right now,' is what Bobby Jindal has been trying to tell you for the past few days. Mind you, Jindal's been really subtle about it.
Not as subtle as some, of course. On the Thursday after Election Day, Marco Rubio's people let it be known that the one-term Florida senator was going to "headline" a "birthday fundraiser" for Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
You know...that Iowa? As in: wink-wink, nudge-nudge?
Yeah, see, the whole "going to a big fundraiser [or dinner or barbecue] in Iowa" thing is actually a critical litmus test for anyone who wants to play politics at the presidential level. You think I'm joking? Michele Bachmann's slide from the dizzying heights of being the Ames Straw Poll winner to the tragic lows of also-ran status literally began after she was outperformed by Rick Perry in a super-competitive GOP dinner-attending contest. (Perry would later slide to also-ran status himself after he was similarly outperformed in the English language category of a super-competitive "stuff people should ordinarily be able to do with their mouths" contest.)
Rubio's got the kind of "brand" identity to pull off this sort of subtle, 'Look, Mom, I'm in Iowa!' maneuver. He's universally thought of as the fresh-faced, Hispanic-outreaching, bases-unifying future of the GOP -- the guy who's been chased after as a presidential candidate from the first day he arrived in the Senate.
Jindal, on the other hand, is known as the guy who shanked a GOP rebuttal to an Obama congressional address by channeling the "Kenneth the Page" character from "30 Rock." It's a harder climb.
But while Jindal can't claim the pole position in the 2016 primary season's slate of top-tier candidates just by hanging out with Terry Branstad, he can rebrand himself by emerging as the loudest and most nagging re-brander of the post-Romney GOP identity. And that's precisely what he's gone to great lengths to do, suddenly intruding into our newsholes and our lives as a hot critic of the way the GOP played 2012 and of how Mitt Romney ran his campaign.
So when Bobby Jindal heard that Mitt Romney was characterizing his election loss as one in which he simply lost a battle of "gifts" to President Obama, essentially reiterating his famous remarks about how 47 percent of the nation would never vote for him because they'd come to be dependent on said gifts, Jindal was quick to throw shade at his party's former standard-bearer:
"That is absolutely wrong," Jindal said at Wednesday's session of the annual Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas, according to the Washington Examiner's Byron York. "I absolutely reject that notion."
"I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party," Jindal continued. "That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election: If we're going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream. Period. No exceptions."
This struck a pretty interesting contrast to one of Jindal's previous Vegas gigs, from early October. Then, with the news of Romney's "47 percent" remarks still fresh in everyone's minds, Jindal insisted that it was "not too late for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to gain enough momentum to beat President Barack Obama," and that he was "confident voters understand they aren't better off than they were four years ago, and they realize Romney can boost job and economic growth by reinvigorating the private sector."
But hey, you live, you learn, like Alanis says, and so Jindal has probably just analyzed the campaign really thoroughly and come away with a handful of smart takes and suggestions. You know, the sort of things that will look good on the pages of Politico, where shininess reigns.
"We've got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything," Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. "We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys."
So what are the dramatic changes he suggests?
Declaring that Republicans "can't be beholden to special interests or banks," the successor to Huey P. Long indicated support for provisions in the Dodd-Frank law, which requires banks to increase their reserves to prevent future taxpayer-funded bailouts.
Even more notably, Jindal suggested he'd look favorably on something akin to the "Volcker rule."
"You've seen some conservatives come around to the idea that if banks are going to be using FDIC-insured deposits, they shouldn't be allowed to co-mingle those funds with some of their riskier investment banking activity," Jindal said. "There needs to be stronger walls between insured deposits, the taxpayer protected side of business and riskier side of business that generate these risks and profits.”
As Matt Yglesias points out, "That's not what the Volcker Rule is":
The idea of the Volcker Rule is that insured institutions should be actually prevented from engaging in speculative proprietary trading. Jindal's idea is simply that insured deposits should not be invested in a risky manner. That's a restatement of previous FDIC policy, not a new idea.
What about tax reform? That was, if you recall, a pretty big issue during the campaign.
Jindal said he didn't want to see tax rate increases but called for broad tax reform to rid the code of loopholes and make it fairer for more Americans.
"Depending on the other reforms that are made, certainly I'd be open to the idea of having more deductions, credits available to lower-income [filers]," he said.
Oh, haha. For a moment, I forgot that Jindal had criticized the Romney campaign at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Las Vegas. What was the moment, specifically? It was the moment where Jindal basically said that he favored Romney's precise tax plan, adding that he'd be "open to the idea" of making the "47 percent" pay more taxes, because makers and takers, et cetera.
But look, I don't mean to imply that Jindal was shy about taking shots at his fellow Republicans in the name of doing some harsh post-election keeping of realness. Here's another part of that Politico interview:
"It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments -- enough of that," Jindal said. "It's not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can't be tolerated within our party. We've also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters."
BAM! That's called bringing the hurt. In the space of a few sentences, Jindal fires a serious shot at "stupid" and "dumbed-down" conservatives, like that one creationist weirdo who currently runs Louisiana. Ol' what's-his-name? Performed an exorcism on a woman in college? Gave a rebuttal to one of Obama's congressional addresses? You know the guy.
But this is what I'm talking about -- Jindal's hard up into your post-election newshole, with melodramatic criticisms ... that all basically add up to no critique at all. Pledging to reform the way conservatives do business while simultaneously signaling that it will be business as usual? That's as clear as sign as any that he intends to throw his hat in the ring for 2016.
So, we'll see you in Iowa, Gov. Jindal. Remember not to be all sulky at the Black Hawk County Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner. It's actually super important.
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