Ben Jealous and the Seat of His Pants

The other day I wrote about how Krish Vignarajah is not ready for prime time as a gubernatorial candidate. Well, she isn’t alone:

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous is calling for Maryland to join the state of New York in providing public higher education for a large segment of the population free of charge.

“College is as important in the 21st century as high school was in the 20th century,” the former NAACP president and tech investor told a group of students and progressive activists gathered Tuesday night at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He said he would help pay for the plan by reducing the number of people in prison and cutting corrections costs.

Jealous spoke after the students participated in a virtual town hall hosted by 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who was touting his plan for tuition-free college nationwide.

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So the long and the short of it is that Ben Jealous is going to give free college to everybody by turning more criminals out on the streets and the ever ambiguous “cutting correction costs.” The vagueness of his second statement makes it seem like Ben Jealous wants everybody to have green bologna like the recently pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio did out in Arizona.

As a reminder, of course, the Jealous plan mimics the plan of his idol, socialist Bernie Sanders with whom Ben Jealous says he agrees with a lot.

Of course, the real gem of this story is this:

Jealous has not estimated how much a Maryland tuition-free state program would cost, how many students would benefit or what type of income-eligibility requirements would be required. “We’re still looking at those numbers,” he said.

That’s right; Ben Jealous proposes huge increases in entitlement spending without actually doing any of the math on how much it costs or who it would help.

As always…

If you think that a leading candidate for Governor proposing a massive new government entitlement without doing any of the number-crunching shows that the candidate is not a serious candidate for the office, you’re right.

This though has been a constant problem for Ben Jealous. His campaign to date has been heavy on high concepts, socialist buzzwords, and a combination of feel-good vibes and angry rhetoric. But there is no overarching reason as to why Jealous wants to be Governor. He drifts from issue to issue, often times onto issues that are irrelevant to state government. The issues that he does talk about he talks about with vague generalities and no little policy specifics or funding mechanisms. Occasionally he goes off and gets himself arrested to keep his radicalized base happy.

This isn’t a campaign in the normal sense of the word. It’s a political celebrity running a campaign by the seat of his pants while not totally seeming to understand why he is running for the office that he is seeking.

The cost of public college tuition is a serious conversation that needs to be had, one that some of his Democratic primary opponents have already put actual thought into, and one that Rick Perry brought to Texas when he introduced the $10,000 degree. Off the cuff comments by candidates who have put no thought into their proposals other than the concept that it feeds into his desire socialist utopia doesn’t contribute to the conversation.

Ben Jealous is polling like a serious candidate for Governor. But he doesn’t look inclined to act like one.

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