New York Times Welcomes to the Race Unpopular Flop Bobby Jindal, Bold Progressive Bernie Sanders

June 25th, 2015 10:24 PM

Surprising precisely no one, the New York Times greeted the launch of the presidential campaign of Bobby Jindal, the conservative Republican governor of Louisiana, in almost wholly negative fashion. The balance started and ended with the headline: "Saying ‘It Is Time for a Doer,’ Jindal Enters Race." Reporter Manny Fernandez portrayed the governor as an unpopular failure, and not even granting him the usual liberal credit for diversity -- Fernandez devoted parts of two sentences to Jindal's Hindu heritage and Indian background.

Jindal is certainly no Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont whom the Times greeted far more favorably when he entered the race, for "injecting a progressive voice into the contest and providing Hillary Rodham Clinton with her first official rival for the party’s nomination."

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is Louisiana’s first nonwhite governor since Reconstruction but whose popularity plummeted as the state struggled with a $1.6 billion shortfall, announced Wednesday that he is running for president in 2016.

Mr. Jindal, 44, an Indian-American, joins the crowded field of Republican contenders in what even his supporters call a long-shot candidacy.

Standing before a giant American flag at an event center in this New Orleans suburb, Mr. Jindal presented himself as a policy writer whose résumé -- as a two-term governor and a former congressman who once led the state health agency and the University of Louisiana system -- sets him apart. He said that Louisiana cut the number of “government bureaucrats” by more than 30,000 positions, and that the state now had the highest population in its history, with more people moving to Louisiana than leaving it.

Mr. Jindal, who took office in 2008, has kept a low profile on the national stage compared with Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and other Republican candidates and likely candidates. And his approval numbers in the state have fallen sharply as he nears the end of his tenure amid criticism that he has been more focused on laying the groundwork for a presidential run than on Louisiana’s fiscal troubles.

Mr. Jindal’s announcement came two days after a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found him sharing the bottom of a list of 16 candidates. In the telephone survey, zero percent of Republican primary voters said Mr. Jindal was their top pick to be the nominee. Mr. Bush earned 22 percent.


“I don’t think anybody in Louisiana thinks he can win,” said Roy Fletcher, a Republican political consultant in Baton Rouge who was deputy campaign manager for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2000.


Mr. Jindal’s campaign strategists acknowledged his poor showing in national polls and lack of name recognition, but they expressed confidence that he had a message and a path to victory, casting him as the youngest candidate with the longest résumé in a wide open Republican race. They said that in such a crowded field, all it takes to win Iowa, and alter the dynamics of the race, is 26,000 votes.

Fernandez, who last year eagerly played up the sham, politicized indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry as a "stunning rebuke" to Perry's presidential hopes, actually criticized Jindal for not focusing on his own weak spots in his presidential launch:

Unmentioned in Mr. Jindal’s speech, however, were some of Louisiana’s hardships.

The state has the seventh-highest unemployment rate and the third-highest poverty rate in the country. In February, Moody’s Investors Service, the credit-rating agency, revised the state’s financial outlook from stable to negative, citing its structural budget imbalance.

“Governor Jindal has failed Louisiana in every way possible, and there’s no reason to believe he will have any more success as a candidate than he did as governor,” said State Senator Karen Carter Peterson, the chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Fernandez even spun Jindal's positives into negatives:

And he had the reputation of a kind of wonky boy genius. At age 24 in 1996, he was appointed secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, the biggest department in state government, and he quickly went to work cutting jobs and slashing its budget.

Yet over two terms as governor, Mr. Jindal’s approval ratings have dipped in part because of his handling of the state’s budget woes. Policy experts and lawmakers attributed the budget shortfall, the state’s worst in decades, in part to the downturn in oil prices that hurt Louisiana and other energy-producing states and in part to the Jindal administration’s fiscal policies.

Contrast that with Times reporter Alan Rappeport's supportive treatment of the presidential launch of crusty Sen. Bernie Sanders, a confessed socialist running as a Democrat, when he announced in late April. Rappeport heralded Sanders as a needed progressive voice for the American left in the 2016 race.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, announced Thursday that he was running for president as a Democrat, injecting a progressive voice into the contest and providing Hillary Rodham Clinton with her first official rival for the party’s nomination.

Avoiding the fanfare that several Republicans have chosen so far when announcing their candidacies, Mr. Sanders issued a statement to supporters that laid out his goals for reducing income inequality, addressing climate change and scaling back the influence of money in politics.

“After a year of travel, discussion and dialogue, I have decided to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president,” Mr. Sanders said in an email early Thursday.

Mr. Sanders’s bid is considered a long shot, but his unflinching commitment to stances popular with the left -- such as opposing foreign military interventions and reining in big banks -- could force Mrs. Clinton to address these issues more deeply.