James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Jindal’

GOP doing Limbaugh Limbo; how low they can go to be ‘rest of the story’

Posted by James McPherson on March 1, 2009

Like the traditional conservative Republicanism that in many ways he embodied, Paul Harvey is dead. Coincidentally, on the same day that Harvey died, the man who had long since replaced Harvey as the voice–and, sadly, as the “conscience”–of the GOP, “brought a cheering crowd to its feet several times at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington as he called on fellow conservatives to take back the country.”

As CNN reports: “Limbaugh used his self-described ‘first national address,’ which ran more than an hour longer than his allotted 20 minutes, to accuse President Obama of inspiring fear in Americans in order to push a liberal agenda of ‘big government.'” (emphasis added)

Limbaugh apparently did what he does best, combining bluster and a disregard for reality (and really, who could blame Republicans for wanting to avoid reality at this point?) with a series of attacks on straw men created specifically for that purpose. For example: “We conservatives have not done a good enough job of just laying out basically who we are, because we make the mistake of assuming that people know. What they know is largely incorrect, based on the way we’re portrayed in pop culture, in the drive-by media, by the Democrat party.”

Rush, the problem isn’t what Americans know about conservatives based on other media (which they, like you, tend to distrust). The problem is what they know about modern conservatism as voiced specifically by people like you, in the conservative media.

Pretty much everybody in America knows who and what you are: a pompous, mean-spirited, self-aggrandizing buffoon. It may therefore be natural, even if unfair, for Americans see modern conservatives in the same light, especially when those conservatives cheer as you go on for four times your allotted time–no doubt because they have no better ideas of their own with which to fill the time.

Furthermore, the problem also isn’t that Americans don’t know what Republicans are. In fact, Republicans don’t know what they are. It may be encouraging that the party’s leading 2012 candidates are Mitt Romney (depending on which rendition of Romney they mean) and Bobby Jindal (who probably can’t win but who, despite last week’s poor speech, probably remains the most intelligent and dynamic of the potential candidates). Less positive is that the runners-up are Ron Paul and Sarah Palin.

If conservatives truly want to go back to what they once were–protectors of individual rights even when it sometimes made them uncomfortable (Harvey supported abortion rights, for example) and willing critics of even their own party (he famously criticized Richard Nixon over the Vietnam War)–they could do worse than to look to Harvey’s example.

Like most Americans, Harvey once got carried away with fears of communism. Like most of us, he occasionally said stupid things. Unlike Limbaugh, however, he didn’t make saying stupid things a point of pride, and conservatives of his era didn’t look to his stupidest comments as stepping stones to lead them out of their self-imposed wilderness retreat.

Next-day update: OK, not really an update, but a way to share the following lead paragraph from a well-worth reading  piece by Tom Watson for the Huffington Post: “Looking for all the world like the sweating floor manager on the late afternoon shift at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club in an unbuttoned shiny black shirt and undersized sport coat, Rush Limbaugh leaned his meaty hands on the lectern at the CPAC conference and slipped a greasy dollar bill into the G-string of the writhing conservative dead-enders packed into the garishly lit Omni Shoreham in Washington DC.”

Posted in History, Media literacy, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Optimistic groundhogs, governors and economists: Jindal’s losing presidential campaign to begin after Obama address

Posted by James McPherson on February 24, 2009

CNN reports that President Barack Obama will try to “mix sober talk with an upbeat bottom line” in an address to a joint session of Congress tonight. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been tapped to provide the GOP answer to Obama’s and thereby take another step toward launching his own losing 2012 presidential bid–assuming his speech tonight doesn’t kill his hopes by falling as flat as Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’s Democratic response to George Bush’s State of the Union Address back in January 2008 (a speech the dropped her from serious vice presidential hopeful to possible second or third choice for secretary of Health and Human Services).

Though it’s too early for presidential predictions, I don’t see how Jindal can win. He’ll either be seen as a GOP attempt to “copy” a successful Obama, and will therefore lose the general election to Obama, or, if Obama falters, Jindal will be rejected in the Republican primary because he reminds voters too much of Obama. We can’t know what Obama’s future will look like four years from now, but we can guess that Jindal’s doesn’t look good for 2012.

However positive Obama’s tone, the news he delivers tonight likely will make Punxsutawney Phil look like an raging optimist. After all, the groundhog predicted “only” six more weeks of winter. The economic winter will continue much longer (despite some optimistic predictions by economists), with the Dow yesterday falling to about half of its high point. All in all, Phil might have some good advice to Jindal: Keep your head down.

Incidentally, if you want to see where the stimulus money is scheduled to go, and when, the government has launched a new website, www.recovery.gov with a timeline. You can also read the entire bill for yourself, if you have the time and determination to get through it. One weird thing about Recovery.gov–after you click on a link to exit the site and read the bill, you’re greeted with a message saying, “Thank you for visiting our site. … We hope your visit was informative and enjoyable.”

Two things bug me about that message. First, it’s not “their” site; it’s ours. They work for us. Second, the visit is unlikely to be “enjoyable,” at least for anyone who isn’t getting a bunch of money in a hurry. For the record, I’m not. And probably you aren’t, either.

Next-day update: Maybe Jindal won’t be a candidate in 2012 after all, after last night’s dismal speech. But American attention spans are short, and he does have plenty of time to recover.

Posted in History, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

2012 predictions for GOP: Jindal, Huckabee, Romney, Palin or relative unknown?

Posted by James McPherson on November 23, 2008

December 6 update: CNN reports that its new poll has Huckabee and Palin as the frontrunners.

 Considering that Barack Obama won’t even taken office for almost two months, making predictions this far in advance of the 2012 presidential election is a bit silly. But hey, I’ve rarely shied away from silly, especially in a classroom, and I was put on the spot a couple of weeks ago when I guest lectured at the University of Idaho and a student there asked me who I predicted would be the Republicans’ presidential nominee in 2012.

Despite the fact that less than two weeks earlier on this site I had predicted that Mitt Romney would be 2012 nominee, I changed my mind and predicted that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will defeat Mike Huckabee.

I would point out, however,  that there’s a good chance that the nominee will be someone most of us aren’t yet aware of such as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and (before this election) Huckabee or Palin. All four had previously been in politics, of course, but few outside of their own states knew who they were. I will also note that four years is a long time in American politics. Any number of circumstances involving the economy, terrorism or problems yet unseen may change everything.

Jindal apparently is running in the right way, already making appearances in Iowa. Oddly, though, he may find himself hampered by the same things that helped Barack Obama win the White House. He is young, energetic, nonwhite, and politically adept. But if Obama’s first term is successful, no Republican has a chance of unseating him–even if a Republican Obama is seen as having the best chance–and if Obama’s presidency falters, Jindal might be viewed simply as a GOP version of an already-failed experiment.

In short, if Obama succeeds, Jindal has a better chance of being the Republican nominee who loses in 2012. If Obama fails, Jindal has less of a chance of being the Republican nominee who reclaims the White House for the GOP.

I’d lean toward Huckabee, who seems to be a nice guy with executive experience and some creative ideas, but I think that his Fox News program will simulaneously increase his visability among conservatives and decrease his credibility with everyone else. Much of his support also comes from the Christian right, which I’ve suggested previously (and still believe) will continue to lose influence among Republicans.

Sarah Palin clearly is also running, though I think her folksy mountain-mama version of a Christian Paris Hilton is already wearing thin. Besides, as I’ve pointed out previously, sexism in America makes it tougher for a woman than for a man to engage in negative politics of the sort Palin has tended to favor (at least so far, though the VP nominee’s role is different than that of the person at the top of the ticket).

My original prediction, Romney, will be in the mix, but now I also can’t see him wearing particularly well. He may be an economic whiz, if there is such a thing, but has too many faces–most of which wear condescending expressions. One bit of good news: Rudy Giuliani will be four years further removed from any relevance he ever had.

Posted in History, Politics, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »