Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Turning Point?

In any competitive endeavor, whether athletic or politic, there comes a point where momentum shifts, and the tide that had been going one direction pivots and starts moving the other way. Usually that turning point is obvious in retrospect; the trick is to recognize it at the time it happens, and not mistake it for simple wishful thinking.

The Republican Party has been on a losing skid for almost three years now. Ever since the triumphal 2004 election was in the can, the GOP has floundered beneath self-generated waves of timidity, profligacy, complacency, and the suicidal fratricide such shortcomings always precipitate from the party's conservative base. Those "rogue waves" demolished the Pachyderms' congressional majorities a year ago, and have given every appearance of carrying the Democrats back to total, unchallengeable power a year from now.

Understandably, we on the center-right are looking for something, ANYthing to grab hold of as a life-preserver of hope that such a disastrous fate for the country itself can somehow be averted. And on Saturday night in, of all places, the state that was ground zero for Hurricane Katrina, a turning point may have been reached:
Republican Bobby Jindal won election as Louisiana governor Saturday, setting a string of firsts and leaving no doubt that the state's voters strongly desire new leadership two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Jindal, 36, will be the nation's youngest sitting governor. The son of Indian immigrants, he will also be the first Indian American governor in U.S. history, and the first nonwhite to hold the job in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

The election of Jindal, who is a conservative, underscores the fast-fading fortunes of the Democratic Party in Louisiana after the hurricanes. ...

Democrats make up about half of the 2.8 million registered voters in Louisiana, outnumbering Republicans by nearly 2 to 1. But the number of registered Democrats has dropped by nearly 57,000 since the 2005 hurricanes. Residents have criticized the state government, which is dominated by Democrats, as incompetent and corrupt.

Jindal capitalized on that sentiment, making the fight to root out Louisiana's corruption a central theme of his campaign. One of his commercials portrayed his Democratic rivals as crooked clowns with cash coming out of their pockets.
There are differences between Louisiana and the nation as a whole, of course. Dems have dominated Bayou politics for decades, while on the national level they've only been back in charge of Congress for nine and a half months. Jindal is replacing a hapless Donk machine governor (Kathleen "Babbling" Blanco) rendered politically moribund by the debacle that she, New Orleans mayor Ray "School Bus" Nagin, and her party made of the Katrina aftermath (a telling, if belated, epilogue after the furious media effort to blame all of that on President Bush), whereas nationally it's an unpopular GOP Executive playing out the string while a seemingly unstoppable she-Ass successor waits impatiently in the wings. And Jindal's victory was a re-match of four years ago, when he got narrowly screwed out of the office he will now hold in classic Huey Long fashion.

Still, Jindal made the rampant, institutionalized corruption of the Democrat establishment the centerpiece of his campaign, turning the tables on the "culture of corruption" meme the Dems successfully deployed in 2006, and won big. Given how the pork barrel bread & circuses have intensified rather than abating under Donk congressional rule, and the proliferating fundraising scandals enthicketing Hillary!, a party-wide adaptation of the Louisiana Governor-Elect's Saturday night rallying cry ("They can either go quietly or they can go loudly, but either way, they will go.") over the next year - and walking that walk, as it were - would appear to have an at least credible chance of producing similar ballot box results.

Congratulations indeed to Bobby Jindal, for whom the political sky may be the limit if he can make good on this golden opportunity. I just hope the rest of the GOP is paying attention, and remembering that old campaign saying, "Hell hath no fury like voters bamboozled."

Hey, it worked in 1994; it nearly won us a House special election in Ted Kennedy's back yard; why not go for it in 2008?