The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The GOP's wild card in Louisiana

Looks like the Republican logjam might be freeing up a little: first, there was Arnold Schwarzenegger - who, in a normal gubernatorial election, would never have survived the so-called Christian right's attack-dogs in the GOP nomination process - coming through against The Man of La Raza Cruz Bustamante (thanks in part to the Bronx cheer Cruz got from half of the Golden State's Hispanics).

And now comes Bobby Jindal. Who? My reaction entirely. He's the other sort of Indian - what I believe were called East Indians in pre-war America - who is in a run-off (on November 15) for Governor of Louisiana.

Now, colourful politics is pretty much a Louisiana birthright: Huey Long and his brother Earl Long - Governors both - provided more colour than most states would like to see in a millennium. But, in his own way, Jindal seems to be shaking things up nicely.

The New York Times has a piece (October 12) on Jindal and the election. If elected, for instance, Jindal would be the first non-white Governor since PBS Pinchback , who, as Lieutenant-Governor, assumed office in 1872 when the governor resigned for corruption (Pinchback lasted a month in the job).

Rather more important than the delve into history is the spot Jindal's candidacy is putting the Party of Treason in. Just how they're hurting can be gauged by this choice morsel:
One black legislator dismissed Mr. Jindal's candidacy early on, calling him, according to The Associated Press, "too dark for the white folks, and not dark enough for the blacks."

A line to be savoured, rolled around the mouth like a fine claret: race bulks as large in the Democratic Party as it ever it did in the days of slavery and those of Jim Crow. Essentially, Democratic politics are ethnic politics - and where, as in California, the voters don't vote their ethnicity, the Dems are in trouble.

What more appropriate than for a Dem shamelessly to allude to that old trope of Southern fiction, the Tragic Mulatto.

The race-baiting went on: a Frontpage piece (October 13) highlights a memo (and reproduces the text)
sent by College Democrats president Ashley Bell. In a message distributed to his organization's membership he called Louisiana's gubernatorial candidate "Bush's 'Do Boy'."...Additionally, Bell inaccurately referred to Jindal as "Arab American"...

Bell is, it appears, already in possession of an undergraduate degree from Valdosta State University - no information whether he was a geography major - and is now studying law at Louisiana State.

(Pause to wonder at the reaction if Arnie had called Cruz (and with how much justification!) the Indians' Do Boy. No suspense in that narrative, I fancy.)

When still at Valdosta, the topographically challenged Bell hosted a big meeting with Tom Daschle (honorary head of the College Democrats) in April 2002; a flavour of Bell's speech: College Democrats were
not only the official student arm of the Democratic Party but also the official feet behind the grassroots movement that will keep a majority in the Senate and take back the House in November.

A guy of such wisdom and judgement, the Democrats richly deserve. (And, FYI, he's black - absurd to have a politics based on race and be mealy-mouthed about identifying the race of participants. The Frontpage piece doesn't mention Bell's race.)

Not - be it said - that there's much to cheer about with the party whose battle-standard in the Supreme Court fight against affirmative action earlier this year proved to be the white flag. If Jindal shows there's a way out of the lily-white ghetto for the GOP which bypasses the structure of grievance-, race-based politics that the Dems have made their turf - he's declared himself opposed to affirmative action (Glory be!) - will the White House thank him for it? After all that kow-towing at the Michigan U circus before Justice (Not.) O'Connor...

(While on the subject, I'm pleased to be able to report that the sheer awfulness of AA and its attendant racial pantomime continues to be chronicled with impressive attention to (depressing and dispiriting) detail by John Rosenberg at Discriminations. One might compare and contrast Rosenberg's careful record of absurdity with the not dissimilar operation of Stetson Kennedy in his 1959 book on the legalised madness that was Jim Crow - online (a dead-tree page at a time!). A key difference being that Jim Crow in 1959 was clearly on the way out - AA today, not so much...)

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