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Bobby Jindal - Deep in the Stupid Swamp

Image via Donkey Hotey @ Flickr.

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is finally running for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination. Jindal was a rising star in the Republican party, when he passed on the chance to run in 2012. Now, he’s entering the 2016 race at the bottom of the ever-growing pile of GOP hopefuls. Days before announcing his candidacy, Jindal landed near the bottom of a nationwide poll of Republican primary voters. He fares no better at home. Jindal’s approval rating in Louisiana is just 32 percent, compared to 42 percent for President Obama, who lost the state by 17 percent in 2012.

What happened? Here are 4 things you need to know about Bobby Jindal to answer that question.

Jindal will always be known for giving one of the worse State of the Union responses ever.

Back when his star was still rising, and he was made out to be the GOP’s answer to Obama (because he was “brown”), Jindal was tapped to give the GOP response to the 2008 State of the Union address. It was abysmal, even by the usual low expectations for these rebuttals. Where Obama was engaging, Jindal was boring. Were Obama’s delivery soared, Jindal’s was scripted. Where Obama was inspiring, Jindal was anything but.


But one bad speech isn’t enough to tank political aspirations. It took more than that to do in any chance Jindal had of becoming president.

Instead of persuading the GOP to “stop being the stupid party,” Jindal became the candidate of “the stupid party.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Jindal warned Republicans that they must “stop being the stupid party,” if they wanted to survive politically.


Republicans were gathered at a retreat in Charlotte, North Carolina, to regroup after Democrats retained the White House and gained seats in Congress in the 2012 elections. Jindal’s star still shone brightly enough that Republicans not only listened, but applauded when Jindal accused the party of “looking backwards,” of being obsessed with “identity politics,” and demanded that the GOP “stop insulting the intelligence of voters,”

Jindal aimed some of his barbs at conservative candidates whose outlandish comments on topics like contraception, rape, abortion, and the Second Amendment torpedoed their campaigns and reflected poorly on the Republican party. “We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments,” Jindal said. The clear implication was that the GOP couldn’t afford to run any more candidates who made “offensive and bizarre comments.”

So, what happened? Jindal became one of those candidates who made “offensive and bizarre comments.”

Why would Jindal do a 180º turn, to march in lockstep with “the stupid party?”

Whatever else he may be, as an ivy-league educated Rhodes Scholar with an Oxford degree, Jindal is an intelligent man. He probably realized that the crowded GOP field is his only chance at grabbing the nomination. Instead of winning a majority, all he needs to do is win a plurality against a record number of opponents. And since he can hardly run on his record in Louisiana (I’ll get to that shortly) flinging at much red meat as possible is Jindal’s best hope of appealing to the basest of the GOP base — the people who come out to vote in primaries and caucuses.

Jindal has cast his lot with the theocratic wing of the GOP.

Forget about not being “the stupid party.” At some point, Jindal must have realized that that his best shot in the primaries was to cast his lot with the farthest right of the GOP’s religious-right base.

Hours after the Louisiana legislature killed a sweeping “religious freedom” bill, Jindal signed an executive order to do what the bill would have: prohibit the state from taking action against an individual, business, organization, or nonprofit that “acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.” Jindal’s executive order goes further than “religious freedom” statues in other states, in that it specifically protects those who have religious objections to same-sex marriage. Thus, it singles out LGBT citizens for discrimination. Jindal’s quick action was likely motivated by his plans to run for president.

So far, discrimination has proven worse for Louisiana’s economy than for corporate bottom lines. Most recently, IMB cancelled a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its National Service Center, which would bring 800 jobs to Baton Rouge, after Jindal signed an executive order modeled after the “religious freedom” bill that failed in the legislature.


Jindal has a terrible record as governor of Louisiana, and only has conservative ideology to blame.

If Rob Reiner made a movie about Bobby Jindal’s term as governor of Louisiana, he might call it “When Bobby Met Grover.” It wouldn’t be a romantic comedy either. For some, it might be a horror movie.

It happens to the best of us. Things are going great, and then you meet someone. It looks like the beginning of a beautiful relationship, but it’s really your first step into oblivion. Your friends turn their backs in disgust, as you end up broke, and stuck in a toxic relationship you can’t get out of.

In this case Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was dragged down by a political relationship with anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. It all started in 2011, when Jindal fought against extending a 4 cent levy on the state’s already low cigarette tax. That caught Norquist’s eye, and he endorsed Jindal as Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.

Jindal decided not to run in 2012, but once Norquist’s endorsement roused his presidential ambitions, Jindal would do just about anything to remain in Norquist’s good graces — including sticking to Norquist’s ridiculously rigid notions of what counts as a tax increase. Thus Jindal insisted that the legislature balance the budget without anything resembling a tax increase. Playing by Norquist’s rules, that means almost anything that increases revenue is off the table.

Fast forward to today, and Louisiana is in a $1.6 billion budgetary hole. With Jindal too busy running for president to run the state, desperate Republicans made direct calls to Norquist — known as “Louisiana’s unelected governor” in some quarters — begging him to let Jindal out of his tax pledge. Norquist refused, and the GOP-dominated legislature was stuck trying to deal with the shortfall by passing complex cost-cutting schemes and tax gimmicks so bizarre that even Republicans are embarrassed to vote for them.

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