Louisiana Governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal is not just the same old same old: he is the epitome of the modern GOP; and he is dangerous. While he may now want to lecture his Republican colleagues not to be the party of stupid, he has done as much as any Akin or Mourdock to carry water for the most extreme ideas hosted by the right. A graduate of a magnet high school in Baton Rouge, then Brown University, and later a Rhodes Scholar at New College, Oxford, he seems determined and capable of destroying Louisiana for the sake of ideology and personal aggrandizement.
This is a governor who is actively eroding what little good there is in Louisiana’s public education system, has implemented a voucher system that will shift millions of dollars from public schools to religious schools because it is wrong to “ignore Intelligent Design,” is vigorously working to privatize our well-run government employees insurance program, dismantling the state’s charity hospital system, and—with obvious glee—denigrating and villainizing those forced to use our social safety nets.
His danger lies not just in his core political beliefs and facile ability to pander to the most base instincts of the southern white male, but his ability to understand that the modern Republican Party doesn’t need to solidify and stabilize its philosophical foundations but hide them better by not saying stupid things, not “appearing” to be the party of rich, the party of big business, the party of elites. If the public isn’t buying your product, don't improve the product, refine the sales pitch.
In response to a conservative-funded poll showing Jindal’s approval ratings dropping 13 points recently, the blogger Cenlamar observed:
I believe Jindal’s meteorically-sinking polling numbers are the direct result of his decision to spend the bulk of the political capital he had accumulated on poorly-managed, poorly-executed, widely unpopular, and ideologically-driven policies–not because he believed these policies would substantively address any problems in Louisiana, but, instead, because he had hoped that by championing the provocative and expansive national model legislation crafted by conservative think tanks on education, health care, and taxes, he could better brandish his own Republican bona fides and more convincingly make his own case for a vice presidential nomination.I see Jindal's latest musings as a way of rebuilding some of that lost capital in the face of Romney's loss and, perhaps, an initial staking out of his role as leader in a leaderless party.
Jindal is against choice in a vicious way. I don’t know whether he has ever taken a public stance on fetal personhood, but I have no doubt he would support it. He supported and signed into law a package of laws restricting Louisiana’s already nation-leading restrictions on abortion. Smaller government apparently doesn’t mean fewer laws affecting women’s choice.
Jindal is a card-carrying member of the Party of Personal Reprehensibility. While the national press made some hay about Jindal’s college writings on an exorcism he took part in and his utter lack of understanding of the necessity for volcano monitoring, we need to constantly remind ourselves that here is a man who supported Gov. Rick Perry for President, supported G.W. Bush’s push to privatize social security, refuses to implement much-needed aspects of the PPACA, publically announced that he would sign a birther bill working its way through the state legislature (it failed to pass), continues to warn against President Obama’s march toward socialism, and has stood by as we in Louisiana face $1.1 billion in Medicaid cuts, pay for an idiotic alternative fuels tax credit he signed into law and insanely administered, and watch thousands of jobs disappear in the name of “privatization.”
In a Brown Alumni Magazine article, Stephanie Grace summarized Jindal's political approach in his run for governor:
Along the way, Jindal has already achieved a traditionally elusive goal for Louisiana Republicans: comfortably uniting both fiscal and social conservatives behind one candidate. His business-friendly platform, heavy on targeted tax cuts and tort reform, appealed to educated urban and suburban voters while his talk-radio ads appealed to rural conservatives by plugging the Ten Commandments and bashing “radical” gun control activists and the permissiveness portrayed in Hollywood films (take that, Governor Schwarzenegger).
Jindal’s duplicity needs to be known and understood as he positions himself as a voice for the new and improved Republican brand. He isn’t stupid; but he thinks we are.