Monday, November 24, 2008

Snark punditry: what to write about now that the election is over

Bobby Jindal (l); John Thune

What will the lazy pajama clad hippies of the blogs write about now that the election is over? Should we worry that we'll lack material? I don't think so.

I'm avoiding the temptation to bloviate about what the various appointments Obama might be making might mean. Is he betraying his promises of change -- is he really backing off restoring the rule of law, exiting Iraq, or whatever? I was wrong about Obama's trajectory several times during the campaign and see no reason to jump on the guy until he actually acts in some way that offends my sense of what he stands for and the country deserves. So none of that (yet) from me.

What the Republicans will do now that they are revealed to be a shrunken regional party of religious reactionaries and racists is a slightly more attractive topic. But I’m actually better at analyzing what "my side" (loosely) of the partisan fence is doing than opining about the incomprehensible antics of the other side.

Still -- blogs are thirsty critters...

Apparently Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post's Fix blog faced the same void last week. He gets paid to write this stuff, so he filled a column with a list of "Ten Republicans To Watch." I'm not going to resist following his good example here: what follows are some not particularly informed or serious comments on his choices -- the text is Cillizza's; the responses in italics are mine.

10. Steve Poizner: Poizner, the Insurance Commissioner of California, has an early head-start on being the Republican nominee for governor in 2010. Well, I guess. There are no other Republican state office holders. But California is a bluer and bluer state -- this Californian wouldn't bet on the latest white Republican millionaire. Anyone else remember Michael Huffington? Now if he were a B movie actor ...

9. Haley Barbour:... Remember that before he became governor of Mississippi in 2003, Barbour was one of the leading political operatives in the country and has tentacles (and acolytes) all over the country. I thought Haley was some guy who named a comet?

8. Jon Huntsman Jr.: ... Huntsman won re-election earlier this month with 78 percent (granted it was in ruby red Utah) ... Huntsman is a Mormon, however... That's a big "however." And not only for the reason Cillizza alludes to, that the fundamentalist Christianist part of the Republican base think Mormons are hell-bound heathens. Mormons just acquired some umpteen million gay enemies on account of the church's leadership of the fight to reinstate discrimination against gays in California. Not a good bunch to pick a fight with if you want influence in cities or anywhere outside the shrinking confines of the culture of the middle-income nuclear family.

7. Eric Cantor: The Virginia Republican's unfettered rise through the ranks of House leadership continued earlier this week when he was elected Minority Whip ... Is the House too small a perch from which to become a national figure? Yes. And, as Cillizza mentions, he's Jewish. No base to draw on there. As with African Americans, Jewish voters have little history of supporting their talking dogs -- I mean Republicans.

6. Mark Sanford: South Carolina's Sanford is the newly elected chair of the Republican Governors Association, a useful job through which to raise one's national profile. I thought Sanford was a Democratic Governor from North Carolina, but apparently that one died in 1998. Are most prominent politicians in the Carolinas named Sanford?

5. Bob McDonnell: McDonnell, Virginia's attorney general, will be the Republican standard-bearer in the Commonwealth's gubernatorial race in 2009. ... If he wins, it will be seen as a sign that the Republican party is alive and well and living in Virginia. They need a sign alright, having lost the last two gubernatorial races and both Senate seats. Maybe the corpse really is dead?

4. Mitch Daniels: Even as Obama was pulling off a stunning win in the Hoosier State at the presidential level, Daniels was cruising to reelection by 18 points. At the end of the campaign, Daniels pledged in a television ad that he would never run for another office ... Not usually the prelude to influence in government, but what do I know?

3. Mitt Romney: Discount the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate at your own peril. Romney has three big things going for him: he is, by almost anyone's account, an expert on the American economy; he is incredibly ambitious and will work harder than almost anyone to make sure his voice is heard; and he has immense personal wealth and a willingness to spend it. Cillizza again gets only part of Romney's Mormonism problem -- but what I want to know is, by whose account is Romney "an expert on the American economy"? No one I've heard from. Yeah, he's been a mediocre governor who balanced a budget with tax increases and fees voted in by Democrats, a former management consultant, and is the son of a failed presidential candidate who was the CEO of a failed car company. He gets credit for running a troubled Winter Olympics without leaving the host state (Utah) bankrupt. Actually a rather thin resume. But he does seem to like campaigning for office and is already up and running for 2012.

2. John Thune: The South Dakota Senator is incredibly well positioned to emerge as the telegenic voice of the Obama opposition. Cillizza may have a live one here. South Dakota, best known by many of us for repeatedly proposing and voting down absolute (and unconstitutional) bans on abortions, seems a small base from which to storm the country. But what do I know?

1. Bobby Jindal: There is NO hotter commodity in the Republican party these days than Jindal. Jindal is the rare candidate who both reformers and establishment types find appealing, and as a 37-year-old Indian American he is -- literally and figuratively -- the sort of new face the party is pining for. Unless leopards change their spots, I'd be a little surprised if the GOP base was pining for a Brown guy. But if they were shallow enough to think that Sarah Palin would win over Hillary Clinton-supporting Democrats, they might be stupid enough to think Jindal would give them a boost in communities of color. It would be interesting to see how the country reacted to his enthusiasm for exorcisms to fight demons. Somehow I suspect that sort of thing goes better down by the Bayou than in most of the country. But, as in all this snark punditry exercise, I could be completely wrong.


Darlene said...

I really haven't been paying attention to the Republican stars (?) since Sarah made a fool of herself again. (Pardoning a turkey turned out to be a real 'turkey'.)

Your analysis is excellent.

Naomi said...

How's this for a tag for the new, unimproved Repubs, "The party of reverence by the irrelevant for the reactionary." Needs work, but, a start?

Ronni Bennett said...

The thing that grabs in your post is Jindal's participation in exorcism. Given all the bloviating in the media these days, that's a hoot. I love knowing that.

janinsanfran said...

Naomi -- I like it. We may have something here.

Jane R said...

Grandmère Mimi has been on the Jindal watch for months and months. For the dish, go visit her... She and other Louisiana folks know how Jindal operates, and not just the exorcism story, but the political shenanigans.

janinsanfran said...

The blog Jane is referring to is The Wounded Bird by Grandmère Mimi. She sure does have some great posts about her Governor, Mr. Jindal. See here and here. She thinks we should be worried.

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