Politics

05.16.12

Norquist's Jindal Veep Mistake

I don’t see many things the way Grover Norquist sees them, but I have tended to respect his political insights. On this one, he had one too many Sazeracs:

Romney would do well to have a wing man who can astutely explain the flaws in President Barack Obama’s policies and lay out the GOP’s innovative, pro-growth alternatives. There are many attractive prospects out there, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal can do not just all that, he has already implemented the sort of bold reforms at the state level that are now desperately needed at the federal level.

Bobby Jindal? Please. Look at this page. The guy still looks 17. That’s enough right there in this day and age. But also, Louisiana is like 48th in everything. Norquist tries to make a big deal about some education reform he’s enacted. Vouchers schmouchers. Louisiana’s schools are pretty lousy. What Louisiana actually is, according to a scorching piece in their very own Times-Pic, is “the prison capital of the world.” Yep, the world. For example:

The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran's, seven times China's and 10 times Germany's.

The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.

Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations.

If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.

Given all that, he does sound like the GOP’s kind of guy. Profiteering on poor people’s misery is a perfect GOP resume builder.

The whole list of contenders is pretty dull in my view. Rob Portman gives them two really boring white guys. I’ve heard the argument that that’s what they want this year, because two dull pro-business white guys means stability.

Nobody talks about him, but I don’t see why Rick Santorum would be such a horrible choice. Lots of people voted for him. He’d be a great attack dog. He passes the heartbeat test. He wouldn’t bring Pennsylvania, but he brings the wingers out. And unite the party, right? Isn't it very common for the nominee to choose a high-finishing, expectations-exceeding primary opponent from the party's other wing? Kennedy and LBJ, Reagan and Poppy, Kerry and Edwards, etc. Why should Santorum be different?

Wingers, you tell us. PresidentDinkins? Be our focus group here.