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Mr. Big Dog

The Stupid Party’s Candidate

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Seems Jindal failed to take his own advice.

The Stupid Party’s Candidate

In 2013 Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal called on the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.” A former Rhodes scholar with serious policy chops, he appeared perfectly positioned to elevate the discussion of ideas. Instead, Jindal has chosen to run in 2016 as the stupid party’s standard-bearer.

As Jindal prepares to make his White House bid official on Wednesday, he is struggling to break the one percent mark in national polls. That puts him a dozen places behind the top-tier triumvirate of Walker, Bush and Rubio. It’s possible Jindal will emerge from the back of the pack at some stage of the game, but it’s just as likely the dumbed-down version of Jindal will never catch fire.

A governor who reshaped his state by overhauling the education and Medicaid systems now hardly talks substance at all. In fairness, he has released detailed plans on taxes and education, but he routinely spends his time on the stump throwing red meat to the most conservative parts of his party. During a visit to Europe early this year, Jindal complained about “no-go zones” on the continent where imposition of sharia law had made non-Muslims unwelcome. Appearing at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference on Friday, Jindal complained corporate America had entered into an “unnatural alliance with the radical left” in working to block religious freedom bills at the state level.

His pander approach hasn’t worked for him. “He is smart, he is policy knowledgeable,” says Henry Olsen, a conservative analyst at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, “but rather than build a public persona around his strengths, he has crafted a public persona around other’s people’s strengths.”

Jindal is running in the most crowded part of an enormous field. Someone like Ohio Gov. John Kasich might try to find room by running to the left, but better-known politicians crowd out Jindal on the right. Marco Rubio has connected better telling his American dream and assimilation story, while Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz manage to bring more passion to the narrative that faith is under siege.

Jindal remains at best second choice for seemingly every segment of the GOP base. Melissa Clouthier, a conservative blogger based in Texas, calls Jindal a “fantastic politician,” but his candidacy has been undermined by simple physics, she says. Two bodies cannot occupy the same space. “There are governors with his level of success,” Clouthier says. “There are minority candidates who can communicate better. There are ideologues who are more pure.”

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