After a hard campaign against Hillary Clinton, Bobby Jindal has emerged as America’s next president in 2016. An essay from the future.
The date is November 8th, 2016. Polling stations have closed and the outcome of the US presidential election is becoming increasingly clear: the first African-American president isn’t succeeded by the first female president, but by the first Asian-American. Hillary Clinton has lost the election to Bobby Jindal.
Piyush “Bobby” Jindal was born to Indian parents in Louisiana’s capital Baton Rouge in 1971. In 2007, Jindal ascended to the governor’s mansion after defeating his opponents in a hard-fought nonpartisan blanket primary.
Among Republicans, Jindal’s most influential opponent for the presidency 2016 was Marco Rubio. The senator from Florida with Cuban roots appealed to the growing Hispanic constituency - but he was probably a bit “too Hispanic” for the conservative wing of the GOP. Sure, Hispanics will be American’s biggest ethnic group by 2040, but does that require elevating someone like Rubio to the presidency more than two decades earlier?
Paul Ryan, the former running mate of Mitt Romney and a known warrior against the status quo still suffered from the narrow defeat against Obama in 2012. Chris Christie, New Jersey’s governor, was seen as too undisciplined to carry the Republican flag to the White House (remember his photo-ops with Obama less than a week before the 2012 election?). Rob Portmann, the senator from Ohio, bore a big resemblance to Romney. Bob McDonnell, governor in Virginia, wasn’t edgy enough. Rick Santorum energized the evangelicals within the Republican Party but not the GOP establishment. Senator Kelly Ayotte hailed from New Hampshire, a state that was considered too unimportant to make her a viable contender for the White House. Nikki Haley, once considered a possible presidential candidate and an Indian-American like Jindal, had suffered defeat in South Carolina in 2014 and hadn’t returned to the campaign trail since.
How happy is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the results of this week’s US presidential election? Let’s put it this way: A guy who embraces Romney in August isn’t likely to bask in Obama’s warmth in November. A guy who shows the UN General Assembly a large piece of cardboard bearing a felt-tipped illustration of a ticking bomb that looks like it’s been pulled straight out of a Road Runner cartoon isn’t one who’s likely get Obama’s devoted attention in the future.
The bomb was of course Netanyahu’s stab in late September at trying to pull the US into yet another war, this one with Iran, and when that stunt failed, he tried another tack: with every breath the right-wing prime minister seemed to castigate his American counterpart for what he made clear through implication were Obama’s pusillanimous demurrals.
Why Israeli leadership should believe—still, after all this time—that American Jews vote all-Israel all the time in American elections is a puzzle. They never do. Exit polls this time around showed that around 70 percent of American Jews at the polls voted for Obama, a number only slightly lower than four years ago. (As the late Milton Himmelfarb of the American Jewish Committee famously put it: “Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans.”)
In other words, Mitt Romney’s declaration in late October that Obama had “pushed allies like Israel under a bus”; his insistence, after accepting the nomination, that Obama had pursued what-me-worry policies that left Iran to its own nuclear devices and Americans “less secure”—all this failed to gain traction among the very voters Romney was playing to.
In this year’s US presidential election, truth is in short supply. Both the Democrats and the Republicans have become more unabashed in their lies than ever before. With a mainstream media weakened by the appearance of partisan bias and editorial staffs that have been ravaged during the crisis, many of the whoppers won’t be second-guessed.
Republican Party presidential candidate Paul Ryan is a fitness freak. At the crack of dawn, he likes to lift weights in the catacombs of the Capitol Building. He says it has helped him to maintain a body fat index of between 6 and 8 percent. Ryan can also run very fast — at least so he claims. The conservative candidate even told a radio host he had completed a marathon in “under three, I think, you know, high twos … a two hour and fifty-something.”
Twenty-six miles (42 kilometers) in under three hours? With a time like that, Ryan could practically fall back on a career as a marathon runner if he doesn’t manage to secure the United States’ second highest political office. US fitness magazines quickly expressed their doubts, with some actually bothering to research marathon statistics. They found only one entry, from 1999, that included Ryan. What they unearthed was data that read more like a hobby jogger than a running machine: four hours and one minute.
Ryan was forced to concede that he had remembered things incorrectly. Was it a big deal? Of course not. But it is still an episode that is telling of this US election. Never before have candidates on both sides lied so openly and so unabashedly — about their own merits, but also about the plans of their rivals. The development prompted one New York Times columnist to warn: “Facts are for losers. The truth is dead.”
The marathon incident was the exception; Ryan was forced to apologize. But much more audacious attempts at manipulating the truth in this election have gone unpunished — largely because strategists in both the Republican and Democratic camps are coolly calculating that people these days are no longer being held liable for their lies in politics.
Mitt Romney handed Barack Obama a priceless gift for the US presidential election campaign when the presumptive Republican nominee blundered on his first diplomatic outing by questioning whether London was capable of staging a successful Olympic Games.
In a move that astonished Downing Street, hours before it laid on a special reception for Romney at No 10 he told NBC there were “disconcerting” signs about the preparations for the Games.
One senior Whitehall source said: “What a total shocker. We are speechless.”
David Cameron wasted no time in slapping down Romney hours after his remarks were broadcast. On a visit to the Olympic Park, the prime minister said: “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”
Cameron’s remarks were intended to be a light-hearted rebuke to Romney, who used his famous management skills honed at Bain Capital to rescue the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002.
Romney frantically rowed back later after a 45-minute meeting in Downing Street where the prime minister expressed his unease about his remarks. “I am very delighted with the prospects of a highly successful Olympic Games. What I have seen shows imagination and forethought and a lot of organisation and [I] expect the Games to be highly successful,” he said.