Jindal: From Whiz Kid To Has-Been To Cautionary Tale

I never thought I’d write about Bobby Jindal again unless he did something newsworthy. In the immortal words of Sean Connery (or someone on Team Bond) I shall never say never again. The reason for this change of something (heart? head?) was a front page story in the Sunday Advocate by Tyler Bridges:

For years, national reporters profiling Bobby Jindal and his political rise inevitably referred to him as a whiz kid — Rhodes scholar at 21, Cabinet secretary at 24, university system president at 28, governor at 36 in 2008.

Not anymore.

Not with Louisiana threatened by financial disaster after Jindal inherited a $1 billion budget surplus eight years ago and left Gov. John Bel Edwards with a $3 billion deficit. Not with state legislators — Republicans and Democrats alike — openly deriding him, two months after he stepped down as governor. Not after ending his presidential campaign in November long before any votes were cast. Not after Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the candidate he then backed, dropped out of the race Tuesday night.

PBJ seemed to have the magic touch until 2011. He was elected as a technocrat and his first term mostly reflected that. Then, he started believing his national press clippings and caught a bad case of Potomac fever. It was all downhill during his second term as he relentlessly pandered to Politico, Grover Norquist, and religious conservatives. He did so without keeping his eye on the homefront and a looming financial crisis caused by the latest oil price bust and PBJ’s taxophobia.

PBJ is not only a has-been, he’s a walking cautionary tale. His obsession with positioning himself to the right of everyone bit him in his skinny ass. He even undid two of his mentor’s, former-Gov. Mike Foster, signature accomplishments as Governor. First, a tax plan aimed at reducing the state’s dependence on sales tax and oil and gas money. Second, giving LSU med school the power to run the state’s public hospital system, which was undone by PBJ’s privatization scheme. Both moves have turned into disasters and the future looks bleak for the state budget and the former public hospital system. The private operator of the hospital in New Orleans keeps threatening to break its contract if target funding levels aren’t met. Who set the targets? The Jindal Administration.

PBJ was so busy pandering his way to a disastrous Presidential candidacy that he took his eye off the ball and saw his popularity at home plummet. He was not the only GOP Goober to run for President with horrendous approval ratings: Chris Christie is as popular in Jersey as the Zika virus. In fact, PBJ’s futile run was *more* arrogant than Christie’s: the latter could argue that Jersey was a blue state and that “sticking to conservative principles” was the cause of his woeful poll ratings. PBJ was in denial because he surrounded himself with yes men who had visions of cushy White House jobs. The lesson that one can learn from this is never believe your own spin. It’s a common mistake among ambitious pols and it’s often their downfall.

Back to PBJ as a cautionary tale. If you’re in government at any level, you cannot govern by adhering to a strict ideology be it right or left wing. You have to be flexible and realistic. The patron saint of wingnuttia, Ronald Reagan, was actually a practical Governor of California. He saved his ideology for things that wouldn’t impact the budget or people’s pocketbooks. PBJ went all in with Grover Norquist, and wound up wildly unpopular. It would be hard at this point for PBJ to be elected dog catcher in the most conservative parish of the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

I don’t feel sorry for Bobby Jindal. He made his bed and, not only laid in it, he shat in it as well. I had the same feelings about the Bush misadministration when it left office. They, too, forsook reality in lieu of ideology and wishful thinking. Mercifully, President Obama is a realist and avoided the pitfalls of ideological purity. Here’s hoping that our side of the political spectrum will continue to be limber and practical when in power. Ideological rigidity is a luxury that only protest parties can afford.

2 thoughts on “Jindal: From Whiz Kid To Has-Been To Cautionary Tale

  1. PBJ’s tale won’t caution anyone, because for those inclined to pay him any attention at all, the problem wasn’t that he assholed, the problem was that he didn’t asshole HARD ENOUGH.

    Also, too, “[Reagan] saved his ideology for things that wouldn’t impact the budget or people’s pocketbooks”? Tell it to students in the University of California system.

    1. UC fees went up but Reagan really cared about criticizing the anti-war protesters more than anything else. The average Californian didn’t care. Besides, as Rick Perlstein once said “By 1970, the only thing Ameircans hated more than the Vietnam War were the anti-warriors.”

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