A young friend starting out in politics recalled his first attendance at a big-ticket fundraiser with a prominent Republican with whiskey in hand holding forth about the derelictions of Gov. Bobby Jindal. Then the man himself walks around a corner, to be greeted with a broad smile and effusive compliments about what a great job — “Great job!” — the new governor is doing.
Familiar enough. Ed Cullen wrote in The Advocate years ago that the State Capitol cafeteria is where one earns a master’s degree in insincerity.
Nor is it news that a Mr. Big lives in a bubble, where never is heard a discouraging word. Admittedly, it’s probably more so with the Jindal administration, where top-down leadership has reached a level not seen since Gov. Edwin W. Edward’s second term. This governor, with rare exceptions, employs acolytes instead of aides, and dissent is a ticket out the door on the fourth floor of the capitol.
What is most astonishing lately is the speed at which the Bobby Bubble has collapsed, even among erstwhile true-believers. Much of the old reform crowd (present company included) parted company with political and insanely doctrinaire decisions on taxes and spending by the governor a long time ago, even as he romped to re-election in 2011.
Jindal had little competition that year; after that, significant legislative victories were won by the administration in 2012, and despite legislative grumbling, the budget has generally reflected Jindal’s wishes.
Now, he’s limping to the finish line.
Hayride blogger and American Spectator columnist Scott McKay reported on the level of “animus” toward the governor among senior Republicans. “Nobody is going to eat a bullet for Bobby Jindal in this state. You can bank on that,” McKay wrote. “They’ll happily throw him under the bus to save their own political careers.”
If McKay is shocked, he shouldn’t be, as the combination of budget crisis and persistent absenteeism has coincided with the inevitable erosion of the power of a term-limited lame duck.
Jeff Crouere, in New Orleans, is a former director of the state GOP. “He turned his back on Louisiana, a state that continues to struggle with the same problems of crime, poverty, crumbling infrastructure, coastal erosion, budget woes, skyrocketing healthcare costs and a crisis in higher education,” he wrote of Jindal in Bayoubuzz.
And these are the conservatives. It’s not a surprise that The Washington Post should jump in about the rising star “stalled” in the low single-digits of the presidential sweepstakes; sometimes, the pollsters don’t bother including his name.
Perhaps it is a minority opinion, but Jindal cannot be written off entirely in the presidential sweepstakes, particularly because there is a second spot on the ticket. What is clear enough, as McKay said, is that the governor’s standing is low downstairs in the State Capitol.
And in the capitol that Huey built, the system runs on executive authority. The impact of Jindal’s tumble from political grace is unpredictable in terms of the budget and legislation. Not since Edwards’ third term, with the governor fending off federal prosecutors amid a catastrophic oil and gas slump, has there been a happier season for kicking Mr. Big when he is down.
Lanny Keller is an editorial writer for The Advocate. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.