Ringside Seat: Jindal's Tarnished Brand

If presidential politics is a game of luck as well as skill, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is doing it wrong. Very, very wrong. Four years ago, at the beginning of President Obama’s term, he was touted as a new hope for the Republican Party. A skilled, competent, conservative analogue to Obama—or even Bill Clinton. But that was before he gave the Republican response to Obama's first State of the Union. The problem wasn’t content—though there’s something off about mocking government investment in the face of a terrible recession—as much as it was style. Jindal came across like an overgrown Kenneth the Page from the show 30 Rock.

The fiasco dimmed his political star considerably. Wisely, it seemed, Jindal responded by removing himself from the national limelight and focusing on his job as governor of Louisiana. The thinking was straightforward: If he can improve his state and build a strong political platform, then he can make a credible bid for the White House. 

Now, four years later, Jindal still has his presidential ambitions, but he's lost his platform for launching them. Since he announced a new tax plan several months ago that would replace corporate and income taxes with a new sales tax, his approval rating among Louisianans has plummeted to an all-time low of 38 percent—lower than even President Obama’s rating in the arch-conservative state. Today, Jindal shelved his proposal after sustained opposition from the public and state lawmakers. So much for converting Louisiana's bold new tax-cutting agenda into fuel for a Republican primary bid.

None of this is to say, however, that Jindal can’t run for president and win. But between his failed national debut, his low approval ratings, and his scuttled initiative, his brand is not looking strong.

So They Say

“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman."

Margaret Thatcher, in 1982

Daily Meme: The Internet Bids Adieu

  • Margaret Thatcher, the only female prime minister to ever serve in the United Kingdom, died today. As is required by Internet common law, reminisces and remembrances quickly poured in.
  • The New York Times collected most of the statements from prominent leaders and people. President Obama said," "She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered."
  • But, as is de rigueur on the web, there were some odd tributes—and less than enthused ones—as well.
  • George Galloway, a left-wing member of Parliament, tweeted, "Tramp the dirt down."
  • Cher fans went ballistic today—showing great emotional range and limited reading comprehension skills—over the terrifying hashtag #nowthatchersdead
  • She had already been thoroughly drudged by pop culture over the course of her career, from an SNL skit, to a James Bond cameo, and the musical Billy Elliot—which, by the way, still intends to sing the lyric “We’ll all celebrate/’Cause it’s one day closer to your death" in the song "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher" in tonight's performance.
  • Meryl Streep, who played Thatcher in The Iron Ladysaid: "To have withstood the special hatred and ridicule, unprecedented in my opinion, leveled in our time at a public figure who was not a mass murderer; and to have managed to keep her convictions attached to fervent ideals and ideas—wrongheaded or misguided as we might see them now—without corruption—I see that as evidence of some kind of greatness, worthy for the argument of history to settle. To have given women and girls around the world reason to supplant fantasies of being princesses with a different dream: the real-life option of leading their nation; this was groundbreaking and admirable."
  • Dan Amira collected many of the sexist remarks directed at Thatcher through the years. One example: "Do you dress as a leader, as a woman, for yourself or for your husband?"
  • Megan Garber chose to highlight Thatcher's non-political contributions to society—including soft-serve ice cream.
  • Irish-Americans in New York City are holding a party. “You could best describe it asa traditional Irish wake, and people can interpret that however they want.”

What We're Writing

  • Young women will finally have access to Plan B over the counter. Scott Lemieux explores how the Obama Administration took that right away and the reasoning of why a District Court gave it back.
  • Jamelle Bouie knocks down a meme: No, he says, Maggie Thatcher wouldn't be considered a liberal in 2013. 

What We're Reading

  • This might be the Senate's week to finally push through gun control and immigration bills. The Gang of Eight says it's ready to go, and Sandy Hook advocates are headed to the capital this week.
  • USA Today reports on the stodgy capitalists getting excited about the legalizing-marijuana market.
  • Nicholas Lehmann asks what happened to the environmental movement that made Earth Day the cultural institution it is?
  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee starts a new Tumblr, "Where Will Scott Brown Run Next?" 
  • Wonkblog asks why we hate budget deficits, concludes that it's because we don't understand them, and then explains ... very ... slowly why we really need to stop worrying about the federal debt.
  • The White House is planning to abduct a medium-sized asteroid on a budget (in its budget).
  • Andy Kroll documents how Exxon, Wal-Mart, and all the gang are setting their dark-money sights on the Hispanic caucus.
  • Salon writes about the hunger strikers in Guantánamo and why, after ten years of uncharged incarceration, even our most reviled prisoners might make a sympathetic group.
  • When we want to understand why conservatives tend to value the achievement of ends over the maintenance of just means, we have to look to first principles.

Poll of the Day

Americans hate Congress, and Gallup finds that they'd like to cut members' pay. Seventy-eight percent of us favor Congress returning five percent of its pay, while 79 percent prefer a full one-fourth. Republicans and Democrats support the 25-percent cut by exactly the same margin, showing that if there's anything we can come together on, it's hating Congress.

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