Friday, October 28, 2011

The One That Got Away

Shown are President Bobby Jindal and his lovely wife entering the White House for his inaugural ball in 2013. I can fantasize, can't I? Louisiana Governor Jindal has made it clear that he has no intention of running for the office during this election cycle, and I'm more than a little disappointed. We don't do endorsements in primary elections, but I can still extol his virtues for future reference since he simply isn't going to run this time.

Jindal's stunning reelection victory this past weekend in Louisiana created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere, including but not limited to The American Spectator and National Review. He won with a two-thirds vote in an all-party election in which he faced nine opponents. In other words, he got twice as many votes as all his opponents combined. He also won in a state which was previously heavily Democratic, and which he has helped to convert to a substantially Republican state.

So I'm going to play a little fantasy politics and tell you why I thought Jindal was the ideal candidate to beat Obama. Simply put, he steals all of those things that got Obama elected, but with the addition of real accomplishment and a genuinely conservative political point of view. The superfluous things that worked for Obama work for Jindal. He is young. He is dynamic. He's a riveting public speaker (forget that terrible response to the State of the Union address he gave two years ago). He obviously appeals to a broad spectrum of voters, including both wealthy and poor whites. Louisiana is not a microcosm of America, but the recent election certainly indicated he is a candidate who can appeal to a growingly multi-ethnic America in states that not long ago still had Jim Crow laws.

Obama would not be able to use his semi-subtle racism against Jindal, because Jindal "doesn't look like other Presidents" either. At the same time, Jindal has never used race or ethnicity to advance his cause. He truly would be a post-racial President. Older voters like myself can simply like him for all the things he is and has done, but younger voters are much more in tune with multiculturalism. Obama says "celebrate diversity." Jindal says "respect diversity, support unity." Jindal is as American as apple pie curry.

Obama constantly spoke about his education. Jindal rarely does. But the leftist intellectual elite constantly brought the subject up in the Obama/McCain election. That wouldn't happen in a Jindal/Obama matchup. Let's take a quick look. Obama attended Occidental College (definitely), Columbia University (allegedly), and moved on to become the editor of the Harvard Law Review without ever having written a single scholarly article for the Review himself. His records are sealed, and nobody seems to remember him at either Columbia or Harvard Law.

Jindal, the son of Indian immigrants, was born Piyush Jindal in Baton Rouge, but chose to be called "Bobby" from an early age. His brilliance showed early. He graduated from Baton Rouge Magnet School (for really smart kids). But he wasn't all brains. He was an accomplished tennis player. In his "spare time" he started a computer newsletter, a retail candy business, and a mail order software business. He never had a job as a community organizer. He was too busy gaining both real life experience, an understanding of business, and a remarkable education which is all public record. No sealed academic records here.

Jindal was one of fifty high school students nationally to be chosen for a special pre-medical honors program at elite Ivy League Brown University. He graduated, with honors, in two majors--public policy and biology. As a standout scholar, he was recruited by both Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, with full scholarships to both. Instead, he chose to attend Oxford University, where he received a master's degree in political science with an emphasis in health policy. He received an award at Oxford for a thesis on "needs-based health care." He turned down a PhD scholarship program at Oxford, deciding it was time to return to the United States and get a job as a political and public health consultant with the firm of McKinsey and Company.

I think we know who would end up with the mucky end of the stick in an "I'm smarter than you" contest with the pseudo-intellectual and questionably-credentialed Obama. But early on, Jindal realized that the academic credentials were all well and good, but if he didn't want to be a college professor, it was time to get out into the real world. At age 25, Jindal was tapped by Louisiana Governor Mike Foster to be the head of Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals. Combining his academic credentials with a practical sense of how public money ought to be spent, Jindal spent three years at the job. When he came into the job, Louisiana DHH was experiencing a $400 million dollar deficit with Medicaid and bankruptcy. At the end of his watch, that same department had a $220 million dollar surplus.

Jindal went on to many more achievements, using government to promote and bolster private investment and innovation before being elected America's first Indian-American governor. In the deep South, no less. As a Congressman, he had earned rave reviews, even from Democrats, for his involvement in private enterprise solutions to the Katrina disaster. He rolled up his sleeves as governor, and personally oversaw the relief efforts after hurricane Gustav, and took on Obama for the President's failure to do anything more than talk about the BP oil spill. He had proposed works projects which may have prevented much of the spill from arriving on Louisiana shores, but got zero cooperation from the federal government.

Compare Jindal's Louisiana to Obama's DC. Lately, it seems like a scandal erupts two or three times a week on Obama's watch. He uses back door politics and Chicago-style thuggery to get his way. His Justice Department is a politicized, racialized mess, and his Attorney General is apparently complicit in the sneaky Fast and Furious operation which turned deadly. Louisiana, on the other hand, had been one of the crookedest states in the union, with its most famous demagogue Huey P. Long planning to run for President. Jindal himself has never been touched by personal or political scandal, and his administration cleaned up the state house and the legislature with new and seriously-enforced ethics rules.

Jindal has a fine way of being very conservative, but without appearing to be overly-partisan. He seems to be able to whip Democrats into line without making grandstand headlines about how he conquered the "enemy." He defeats recalcitrant legislators by persuasion and savvy political maneuvering. He appears boyish while possessing the political acumen of a very experienced old pol.

On top of it all, Jindal can deride Obamacare from both the intellectual and practical high ground. His experience with Louisiana's DHH and his position as Bill Clinton's Medicare commission chairman give him bipartisan credentials as the man who could come up with a genuine solution for the medically uninsured without the dangerous economic consequences of Obamacare. He favors interstate contracts and portable insurance from state to state while opening the market to private insurers across state lines. As Quinn Hillyer said in his American Spectator article, "he can explain 'premium support' and market solutions better than anyone in the business, especially in a debate, where--unlike a formal speech setting (remember the State of the Union response)--Jindal absolutely sparkles." Jindal is a true policy wonk without sounding the least bit wonkish.

Jindal has proven himself to be an economic conservative cost-cutter and efficiency-increaser. He also has solid social conservative views, but doesn't spend valuable time beating opponents over the head with the Bible. Again, he persuades and maneuvers rather than making a donnybrook out of the issues. But he knows that the economy will be the true issue for his state and the national government at election time. The libertarian/conservative CATO Institute gave Jindal an "A" on fiscal policy, citing the increase in efficient Louisiana public services while cutting state spending by 26%. He has bent on a few interim special taxes in order to bring legislators into his fold, but his basic philosophy is to reduce taxes, increase efficiency, cut spending. He has succeeded at all three.

Before the current candidates announced their intentions to run, I had visions of Jindal wiping the floor with Obama in debates on the economy, statism, and rabid egalitarianism. I won't get that chance now. Jindal has declared in no uncertain terms that he will not seek the presidency in 2012. To prove his steadfastness in avoiding the nomination, he has endorsed fellow Governor Rick Perry. I'll keep my own counsel on that choice, but I would rather have seen Jindal do it for himself and all of us. Maybe next time.

26 comments:

tryanmax said...

And Supriya is way hotter than Michelle.

tryanmax said...

Yeah, I went there. And I went there right away, too.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
Why do the best and most capable seem to always have a calling below the need for them and the less than always seem to want the highest?

BevfromNYC said...

Tom,
Because truly capable and intelligent people know enough NOT to want to be President.

I have always like Bobby Jindal and, sadly, there will only be an Obama/Jindal debate in our wildest fantasies. But then, maybe there's a possibility of a Biden/Jindal debate??? That can keep me going for a while.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: And she has a whole lot more class.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: You're forgiven for being human. LOL

rlaWTX said...

Tom, it's not hopeless. He's a young guy (I cannot believe I am old enough for serious presidential contenders to be around my age!!!), and we have to keep conservative R's in the WH for several cycles to undo the damage...

and, tryanmax, I've seen crumpled paper sacks that are more attractive than Michelle...

rlaWTX said...

(as for the Perry nod, I read on NRO that his endorsement was more friendship and gov-to-gov thanks for help rendered than deep political appreciation)

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: Far too many politicians are examples of the Peter Principle--they've risen to their level of incompetence. The best and brightest tend to hold back rather than face the distractions and mudslinging of presidential politics. Still, Jindal has proven he can take it. I think he's simply devoted to completing the job in Louisiana, which could mean he's only out of the race for now. He's young enough to wait for the right time.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Excellent point. Even the laziest and most incompetent presidents age considerably in office. Look at Carter and Obama near the end of their first terms (and last terms, I hope).

The nominee could reach out to Jindal for the second spot, and it's hard not to accept something like that. But I just don't think Jindal would do it. He might even slip a note to the nominee in advance asking not to be chosen. When he's ready, I suspect he'll want the top position. He's a modest man, but he's not without ambition.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: LOL And you have a long future to look forward to. It finally hit me when I realized the current president was born a year before I graduated from high school.

BevfromNYC said...

Now let's be fair. Michelle is an attractive woman with great bicep-itude. But that's ALL she is...an attractive woman with great biceps. So is Madonna, but I am not sure that either are capable of deep thought.

[Okay, I know. That was a really back-handed compliment]

And Perry and the state of Texas have been very good to Louisiana in their many times of need. I am sure that Gov. Jindal would feel he was betraying a friendship if he didn't endorse Perry. And Jindal will need an endorsement from Texas if he wants to win in 2016 or beyond. Because if Obama should win a 2nd Term ({{shutters uncontrollably}}} Heaven forbid!!), I bet Jindal will be ready to run by then.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I'm sure Michelle is a great woman to have along in a street fight.

I didn't see much of anything that would be appreciably negative about Jindal endorsing Perry, and based on what you've said and what I've read, it makes good political sense. Having Texas on your side in a future presidential run is a good thing.

T-Rav said...

No acceptance of the VP slot? So I guess this means I can't have dreams of a Ryan/Jindal ticket, huh?

Patti said...

I like him too, but it seems that the establishment wants a status-quo nominee at this point, and jindal ain't it. too bad for us...

T-Rav said...

Also, you are all racists. Poor Michelle Obama...

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: If Obama gets reelected, I'm moving to a country with a freer economy--like Cuba.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Like me, you can have the dream. Just put it farther down the calendar. And for me, I'd reverse the roles. But I'd take the ticket gladly either way.

LawHawkRFD said...

Patti: I guess I agree, up to a point. But we have to admit that Cain is doing very well, and he's anything but status quo. If Jindal had jumped in early, nobody could have charged him with lack of political experience or lack of executive experience. And he has private industry creds as well. Both Cain and Jindal have created many jobs, albeit in quite different ways.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav: How dare you call me racist when clearly I am sexist! Sheesh!

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. Sexism is in the eye of the beholder. You're just beholding something different from the rest of us. LOL

AndrewPrice said...

Sorry I'm late, tough morning.

I like Jindal a good deal, but he's got work on public speaking. Every time I've seen him speak he's been too technocratic.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I've noticed that Jindal tends to tailor his speech to the crowd he's addressing. And he's a quick learner. Though the nets kept it short and at the bottom of the hour, his speeches on-site during the early days of the oil spill were fiery and direct. He nailed Obama for his inaction, spoke clearly of the things he had requested to avoid disaster, and had the crowds cheering wildly. We've only seen his national speech style so far, but the Cajuns can tell you he knows how to conduct a barn-burner.

He does need to ignore the advice of his handlers, and just say what he really thinks. The debate situation would be his long suit. In a confrontation with Obama, Jindal would match and beat him on technical issues, but also point out the obvious flaws and demagoguery in Obama's style. He's a cool intellectual who can also get fired up and make his views clear to ordinary Americans like me. "Hope and change" are just meaningless campaign slogans to a man who has actually accomplished something.

In any case, his candidacy is off the table now, so he has plenty of time to practice. He will have to learn to shift from local/state politics in order to reach a national audience. I think he could make that adaptation very quickly. But your point is well-taken.

tryanmax said...

I remember thinking during the oil-spill that all the coverage of Jindal seemed to be cut short. Of course, those were the days when "Dear Leader" was nigh untouchable, so I pretty well had it figured out.

It seems to be an easy trap to fall into, following the advice of the handlers. Even the best public figures have it happen to them at some point. To borrow a line from Herman: "Let Bobby be Bobby."

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi LawHawk.

I like much of what I have seen from Bobby Jindal, however, not to be a wet blanket here, but when I saw this:
Louisians Outlaws Using Cash For Used Goods
I did a double take.

Surely Gov. Jindal didn't sign this garbage into law?
Unfortunately, he did. I'm curious as to why he did because it's not only a very slippery slope to begin with, but it punishes law abiding businesses like Goodwill while giving a pass to pawn shops.
It also hurts customers who prefer to use cash.

Frankly, it's something I would expect from a democrat or even a RINO, but Jindal is no RINO.

I understand it may help law enforcement but at what price?
I'm certain that law enforcement, the GOP controlled state congress and the gov. can come up with something better than big brother laws to combat theft.

If anyone knows why Gov. Jindal signed this into law I would like to know. I would prefer to think he simply didn't read it and trusted his staff or maybe it was misrepresented. At least I hope that's the case.

I'm not an expert but I can think of ways to catch criminals who are selling stolen wire and scrap metal that isn't anti-liberty/anti-business.
Very troubling.

LawHawkRFD said...

USSBen: As I mentioned in the article, Jindal has signed a few bills in order to get his major tax-cutting and budget balancing passed. I'm guessing he wasn't much happier about it than you and I are. But even when signing an off-beat bill, he always makes sure he gets something in return, even if it isn't what he wants or as much as he wants. Jindal tends to take final approval on himself, and unlike Obama, doesn't blame his subordinates for unpopular things. You also have to remember that this is Louisiana we're talking about. Jindal has completely turned that state around, so I'm willing to cut him a little more slack than I might in another state. Absolutism can quickly begin to look like pure dogma rather than sound reasoning and balancing of legitimate interests.

Nevertheless, I have to agree that it seems to hurt the wrong people and reward the wrong people. I do have a problem with US currency being considered a "wrong" form of tender. But to be truthful with you, I'm more concerned about the state's requirement that a business's proprietary information (client lists and transactions) be made available to authorities without a warrant.

Post a Comment