James Forsyth

The next Republican president

The next Republican president
Text settings
Comments

Tomorrow night, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, will give the Republican response to Barack Obama’s televised speech to a joint session of Congress. Jindal is the rising star of the Republican party.

Only 37, Jindal is the governor of Louisiana having already been a Congressman and an assistant secretary at Health and Human Services in the Bush administration. He’s a fiscal and social conservative and is rapidly developing a deserved reputation for competent governance; just compare the state of Louisiana’s response to hurricanes Gustav and Katrina. The Bush presidency lost the Republicans their historic reputation for competence, Jindal offers them a chance to win it back and it is hard to see how the Republicans can win again until the voters regard them as competent.

He is the son of immigrants giving him greater reach than most Republican politicians and rebutting the image of the party as one of angry white men. He’s also a Rhodes Scholar, he turned down offers at both Harvard Medical and Yale Law to go to Oxford , this gives him instant credibility in establishment circles which matters when it comes to media coverage and fundraising.

The key question for Jindal is whether he runs this time or next time. On Meet the Press yesterday he left himself some wiggle room having previously sounded more emphatic about not challenging in 2012. In some ways, Jindal’s desire to leave the door open is a natural response to some of the stumbles, albeit not major ones, Obama has made. But it would, to my mind, be a mistake for Jindal to run this cycle. First of all, Obama will probably be the strong favourite to win in 2012. Second, in 2016, Jindal will have a two-term governorship to run on, allowing him to show that his conservative approach to governing works. Third, it is easier to offer a transformative message in a race where yopre-requisite of victory is making the case against the incumbent. (Although, Reagan did manage to do this in 1980). The final argument for Jindal waiting is that he has such appeal across the Republican party that he could be as confident as any challenger can be of winning a primary whenever he chooses to run.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

Comments
Topics in this articleSociety