Archive for February, 2009

My friend and former colleague John Mercurio makes a good argument for why Bobby Jindal won’t even run for the GOP nomination in 2012.

Louisiana chooses its governors in off years, which means Jindal, who has already announced plans to seek a second term, will likely have his name on a state ballot in November 2011. That’s just a few short months before Iowa caucusgoers will cast the first votes of the 2012 primaries. Other Republican candidates already will have spent months participating in a dizzying round of televised debates and town-hall forums. (Remember how Fred Thompson was widely panned for joining the 2008 race too late? He announced in September 2007.)

The prospect of Jindal seeking both offices in 2011 would require political contortions the likes of which even he would be hard-pressed to perform. Imagine him urging Louisiana voters, still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to support his re-election so he can spend the next year as an absentee governor, traveling the country as a presidential candidate. He could deny charges, likely to come from all corners, that he’s using his re-election bid as a launching pad for the White House. But if he reverses course after November and runs for president, he would face the impossible task of assembling a last-minute national organization at the same time he’s suffering a fatal blow to his credibility.

Elsewhere, the Bobby Jindal/Kenneth the Page comparisons have gone viral. Check out this clip:

Jindal should consider himself fortunate that Jack McBrayer (the actor who plays Kenneth the Page on 30 Rock) doesn’t bear an uncanny physical resemblance to him. Otherwise, Jindal would be getting the full Tina Fey/Sarah Palin treatment. On the other hand, Ben Smith pointed out the new Facebook group calling for Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar fame) to play Bobby Jindal on SNL.

Update: Andrew Sullivan nails it — “All that really happened here is that Jindal – stylistically and substantively – had the worst debut on national television of anyone since Palin’s encounter with Katie Couric.”

Perhaps the worst kept secret in Republican Senate politics is that they are silently and not so subtly urging Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky to retire, or encourage a primary challenger. Now it looks like Bunning and his friend and fellow Kentuckian in the Senate Mitch McConnell have had a falling out.

Sen. Jim Bunning’s (R-Ky.) political career began to deteriorate this week after he apologized for making insensitive remarks about a sitting Supreme Court justice and then threatened to sue his own party if it forced him to retire.

While his public missteps may have damaged his reelection chances for the moment, perhaps more troubling is the distance that appears to be developing between Bunning and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Once considered best friends in the chamber, their relationship has soured as many harbor the belief that Bunning is not the best candidate to keep the seat in GOP hands, according to Senate sources.

A spokesman for McConnell said the Republican leader “considers Sen. Bunning a close friend and a respected member of his caucus, and they continue to work closely on issues of great importance to their constituents.”

Bunning declined to comment for this article.

Democrats have targeted Bunning, an irascible member of the chamber and former Hall of Fame pitcher, in the next cycle. New GOP polling shows him down in a hypothetical match-up against a Democratic challenger, according to a GOP source.

Republican strategists are desperate to avoid a reprise of the 2007 gubernatorial race, in which an unpopular GOP incumbent — Ernie Fletcher, who became ensnared in scandal — refused to step down and lost the governor’s mansion to Democrats.

Bunning is planning a vigorous defense of his seat. He is in the midst of hiring campaign staff and scheduling fundraisers and plans to raise $10 million for his reelection.

Campaign records show that his campaign has only $150,000 and that he raised a mere $27,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Bunning has implied that he held back on fundraising to give McConnell, who faced a difficult reelection himself last year, uncontested access to GOP donors in Kentucky. This has made McConnell’s fading support all the more painful, said one Senate lawmaker.

Bunning dodged a bullet in 2004, in a red state like Kentucky during a much friendlier political environment for the GOP. At this point, any pragmatist, especially one who has had a career as long as Bunning, would probably take one for the team and step aside to help his party retain the seat. But if Bunning is as stubborn about this as the article says and he stays in the race, it will make for a nasty spat inside Kentucky and national GOP circles, and mean one more potential seat the Republicans will have to spend time and money defending to hold off a 60-seat Democratic supermajority in the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s first term.

Louisiana governor and rumored 2012 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal was tapped to give the GOP rebuttal to Barack Obama’s first address to Congress. John Cole brutally explains the sacrificial lamb nature of this political tradition. It seems especially relevant this year considering Obama’s well known reputation as a public speaker. Anybody who would have to follow him would have an easier time taking the stage after the Rolling Stones or U2.

Now, in fairness, the responses are always awful. Every year (with the exception of Jim Webb) someone is trotted out and forced to give the response, and it is at this point the political equivalent of throwing a virgin into a volcano. It is beyond time for them to end. However, there was something just especially awful this year, and already the comparison to Kenneth from 30 Rock is sweeping across the intertubes.

Jindal’s speech is being panned left, right, and center, with some of the harshest and most surprising criticism coming from his own party.

This was not a good national coming out party for Jindal, especially if he has presidential ambitions in 2012. However, one bad national speech does not mean it’s the end of your aspirations for higher office. Remember Bill Clinton’s much panned speech during the 1988 Democratic National Convention? He went on to bigger and better things four short years later.

Faith No More Reunion

Posted: February 25, 2009 in Music
Tags: ,

This is the best news I’ve heard all day.

And now, thanks to a press release touting singer Mike Patton’s involvement in the “major motion film ‘Crank 2: High Voltage,’ ” we know that Faith No More — the much-celebrated, much-missed art-rock act that he fronted from 1989 until its dissolution in 1998 — are finally reuniting.

That news was, er, broken, in the final line of the press release sent late Monday night, which listed Patton’s upcoming performance schedule, including a stop at the Coachella festival and “the highly anticipated reunion tour with Faith No More in Europe this summer.” Needless to say, long-suffering FNM fans were pumped.

But is the news true? MTV News contacted Patton’s publicist, who told us that yes, the Faith No More reunion is happening … and no, they’re not going to be playing any dates in the U.S. (sorry, Coachella fans). This is will be a strictly European affair.

Faith No More is one of the most influential and underrated rock bands of the last 20 years, so for them to come back now, hopefully to audiences appreciative of their legacy, is a great thing for rock music. I’ve seen Mike Patton with Fantomas and Tomahawk, and his vocals and live performances are absolutely amazing. What’s unclear is which members of the band are on board for the reunion, but I’m hoping at this point for the Real Thing/Angel Dust-era lineup. In the meantime, check out this live performance of “From Out of Nowhere” at Brixton Academy:

Quote of the Day

Posted: February 25, 2009 in Barack Obama, Politics, Quotes
Tags: , ,

“The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me. Of course, I’ve never had a helicopter before. You know? Maybe — maybe I’ve been deprived and i didn’t know it.”
President Barack Obama

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Politico ranks the ten most influential Twitter users in DC.

Every once in a while, a politician says something so inappropriate, it shocks even me.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), already in political trouble for 2010, didn’t help matters any over the weekend.

At a Lincoln Day Dinner speech over the weekend, Bunning predicted that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer in nine months, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The paper reports that Bunning reiterated his support of conservative judges, saying “that’s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg…has cancer.”

“Bad cancer. The kind you don’t get better from,” Bunning went on. “Even though she was operated on, usually nine months is the longest that anybody would live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”

While Senator Bunning didn’t explicitly say it, he comes across like he’s looking forward for Justice Ginsburg to die. He just handed his opponents for 2010 – in a potential GOP primary or the general election – a whole case of ammunition to use against him.