The governor of Louisiana is firm on this point: “The president loves America, he loves our country. There’s no doubt about that.”
As doubting that obvious fact has become something of a cottage industry in the nascent 2016 presidential campaign, we’re glad to hear Bobby Jindal put that canard to rest.
But we can go one better. We have evidence of how much Bobby Jindal loves America: his frequent flying all over this country on the business of politics.
Jindal, who is likely to join the cast of thousands in the GOP caucuses and primaries, spent about 165 days — or 45 percent — of 2014 in places other than Louisiana. In 2013, he was gone about 74 days. Only one of those trips seems to have been for official state business — an economic development foray to Asia.
Some, however, combine politics and policy, such as meetings of governors’ associations.
It was during a National Governors Association event at the White House on Monday that Jindal addressed the president’s patriotism, the questioning of which was a silly and pointless little controversy in the national press. The governor also used the occasion for a criticism of the president’s foreign policy.
What is absolutely not in question is that the president works at the job he is paid to do. When the governor visits Iowa or New Hampshire or Las Vegas, is he working full-time at his job?
In an age of cellphones and email and extended hours for everyone, many of a governor’s duties can be conducted at a distance, to a point. That point, in Jindal’s case, is long exceeded, in our view.
We have always been of two minds about Jindal’s travels. It became clear when he was elected that he would seek a national political profile. To the extent that he would travel to promote Louisiana’s economy, we were enthusiastic.
What we’ve now seen is a governor who has twice been abroad in six years on trade missions, but usually devotes his private-plane miles to politics and personal ambitions, not the good of the state that he pledged to serve.
In the midst of the state’s horrible budget crisis, what is damning about the governor’s travels is not the cost of a State Police detail traveling with him. It is the opportunity forgone to work on the state’s problems. Rarely does the governor see lawmakers, something his predecessors did a lot more of.
State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, is an accountant by trade and head of the powerful Ways and Means Committee that has jurisdiction over taxes, credits and exemptions. He is one of the key figures involved in balancing the books for the state.
He hasn’t seen the governor personally since the last legislative session ended in June 2014.
It’s a striking example of distance that does not reflect well on Jindal.