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article imageOp-Ed: LA gov. Bobby Jindal talks tough on defense in risky 2016 opener

By Calvin Wolf     Oct 6, 2014 in Politics
As the crop of 2016 presidential election Republicans begins chest-thumping, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal appears to leap into the fray by criticizing President Obama's foreign policy and calling for increased defense spending. It's a risky opener.
In politics, armchair generals and Monday-morning quarterbacks are common, especially when it comes to the presidency. Right now, Republicans angling for the 2016 presidential nomination are trying to position themselves as the voice of reason compared to beleaguered incumbent Barack Obama, the second-term Democrat who has faced a rough time in the White House. From illegal immigration to Obamacare to Common Core to Ukraine to ISIS, the Obama administration has been dealing with multiple crises this year. Enthusiasm for the Obama presidency has waned and the future of our nation's economic and geopolitical power look uncertain.
But, among the Republicans, who can get their Monday-morning quarterbacking "right" enough to appeal to the electorate? Senator Marco Rubio of Florida appears to be betting on education and immigration as the hot-button issues around which he can build a 2016 presidential campaign. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky seems to be more focused on fiscal issues. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is a wild card, but seems too conservative to make much headway. Former governor Jeb Bush of Florida is another education guru who seems to capture some wind in his sails from being a moderate Republican with powerful family ties. Former governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the 2012 GOP nominee who looks like he might run again, also plays the moderate and is enjoying the grumblings of discontent with Obama's second term.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, a relative newcomer to the 2016 pack of aspirants, seems to have gotten off to a strong but risky start: According to TIME, the second-term governor is criticizing president Obama's foreign policy (no surprise) and is advocating for increased defense spending (whoa!). It is a bold but risky move for a presidential contender to start throwing out objectives so early in the game, especially when it comes to increased government spending.
Other Republicans, while often critical of Obama's foreign policy, are likely wary to advocate for increased defense spending. While many consider America back to its pre-Great Recession economic performance, that does not necessarily mean they think it is time to start handing the U.S. military blank checks again. Many candidates will play cautious regarding government spending, and for good reason.
Of course, if Obama's air war against ISIS proves unsuccessful over the next year, Jindal will be in the best position to claim he was the wise Republican seer. "See, we need ground troops and plenty of funds for armor and infantry," he will say. "Just as I argued a year ago." The Republicans who criticized Obama's anti-ISIS operations but laid out no plans of their own will look weak in comparison.
But if the air war is successful, or if Obama does send ground troops and they face high casualties, Jindal will look like a neocon playing Cold War games.
Jindal is also wagering that ISIS will become the biggest political issue next year, surpassing education, the economy, illegal immigration, and health care as the hottest-button issue. With the economy improving, Jindal may be on the right track - a decreasing unemployment rate will make the state of K-12 and higher education, the U.S. economy, health care spending, and even illegal immigration, less frightening to most voters.
It's a high risk, high return game for Jindal, and it might launch him to the head of the GOP pack.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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