Although he says he’s still praying over whether to seek the 2016 Republican nomination, clearly Gov. Bobby Jindal envisions himself as a potential president.
So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that he runs and wins (bear with me here). And let’s say that one of his cabinet secretaries plans a trip to some state run by some governor who belongs to the other party. And let’s say the governor, rather than welcoming or simply ignoring the visiting official, uses the visit to try to score cheap political points.
How would a President Jindal react to such a situation? I’m guessing he wouldn’t be too pleased. If you don’t respect the person, at least respect the office, he’d probably say. Isn’t that the way he’d expect members of his own hypothetical administration to be treated?
If so, you wouldn’t know it from a sneering press release he put out last week — from his official gubernatorial account, no less — on the occasion of a visit to New Orleans by Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama’s education secretary and the main speaker at the Bureau of Governmental Research’s annual luncheon.
“Following the election of Bill Cassidy to the U.S. Senate and the defeat of Mary Landrieu, President Obama has now decided to send Secretary Arne Duncan to Louisiana. The President said his policies were on the ballot this election, including Obamacare, Common Core and giving amnesty to illegal aliens. After he made that statement, the American people widely rejected those policies across the nation in red states, blue states and purple states. And here in Louisiana, Bill Cassidy opposed these policies, while Mary supported them — and Mary lost,” the statement said.
He didn’t stop there.
“So we have to wonder — is the President sending Secretary Duncan here to double down on these failed policies and bully us into federal overreach and the Obama Administration’s top-down education agenda? Or is he going to reach across the aisle and offer to work with the majority of Louisianians who support Louisiana’s successful bottom-up approach to education that gives local control to our educators and parents? Mary Landrieu supported Common Core and was soundly defeated — the voters have spoken. We hope Secretary Duncan is coming to Louisiana to see how real education reform is benefitting kids and families in the real world, and we hope he wants to work with us.”
Never mind that Duncan’s visit had not one thing to do with the Senate election. Or that it’s unlikely that Landrieu’s loss had much to do with Common Core.
Never mind that BGR is a respected, nonpartisan organization that has hosted both liberal and conservative keynoters over the years, all of whom were politely received. Or that Obama didn’t suddenly decide to “send” Duncan here after the election; BGR invited him months ago.
And never mind that Duncan’s Education Department has been a friend to Louisiana, both financially and, in a broad sense, philosophically. Duncan is a supporter of charter schools, accountability and other things generally associated with the “reform” movement, and so is Jindal. They differ on Common Core, but that’s only because Jindal flip-flopped from founding supporter to ruthless critic when he saw how the issue was playing in national conservative circles; top state education officials and lawmakers still support the state-developed standards. (In his BGR speech, Duncan did lament how politicized the rhetoric over Common Core has become, but can you really blame him?)
That’s a lot of never minds, but it doesn’t cover all the reasons Jindal’s out of line. Nor was this the only recent instance.
Jindal also violated widely accepted election night protocol of politicians putting down their swords, congratulating everyone for a fight well waged and showing a little reverence for a system that, despite its flaws, gives the American people the last word.
Republican after Republican congratulated Cassidy and left it at that. But Jindal just couldn’t refrain from gloating on Twitter that Louisiana had “finally” retired Landrieu. “It’s about time,” he wrote.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who played a much bigger role than the governor in Landrieu’s defeat, isn’t exactly known for letting good manners stand in the way of an old-fashioned brawl. Yet even he managed to park the acrimony long enough to honor his colleague on the Senate floor after she made her farewell speech — another democratic ritual in which tradition dictates a certain civility.
“Louisiana has always been first in her heart and her top motivation,” Vitter said, mustering a graciousness that Jindal really should consider emulating. If not because it would reflect well on Louisiana — although it certainly would — then at least because he’d like to find himself in Obama’s shoes one day.