Democrats all over the country, not to mention plenty of independents and even some Republicans, are eagerly looking ahead to a time when the Trump administration will be history.
You know who else is apparently gearing up for the nation's next chapter? Former Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Just over a year into President Donald Trump's first term — although it sure feels like longer — the president's onetime rival for the GOP nomination authored a column in the Wall Street Journal offering his prescription for how the Republican Party should continue to harness populist sentiment once Trump leaves the stage.
"Mr. Trump is a man, not a movement; he embodies executive strength, not a philosophy. When his time in office is up, he may leave behind millions of frustrated, voiceless people facing a status quo government and two limp, self-serving political parties eager to return to what they were, which wasn’t much," Jindal wrote.
And he concludes that "we need to take over and reinvent the GOP. Mr. Trump won’t be the man to do it. We should create a more populist — Trumpian — bottom-up GOP that loves freedom and flies the biggest American flag in history, shouting that American values and institutions are better than everybody else’s and essential to the future."
What Jindal's saying about policy isn't exactly overt. He commends the traditionally conservative stances the president has taken and simultaneously warns against exclusionary rhetoric — a Trump specialty — and the identity politics he ascribes to Democrats. But that's about as specific as he gets.
Same goes for his assessment of the lightning rod of a president. During the campaign, one of Jindal's big gambits was to excoriate Trump, calling him a shallow, narcissistic unstable "carnival act."
“The idea of the Donald Trump act is great. The reality of the Donald Trump act is absurd,” he told the National Press Club at the time.
Once Jindal dropped out and Trump emerged as the party's nominee, though, Jindal said he'd support him anyway. Trump, Jindal reasoned, might pick conservative judges, pursue tax cuts and assault the regulatory state, while Hillary Clinton certainly wouldn't. He was right on that front.
But what's perhaps most interesting is how Jindal is positioning himself.
As in the past, the clearest message this time around seems to be that Jindal wants to be part of the conversation about the party's future, even as he's been consigned recently to the sidelines.
Recently, a letter to the editor was published criticizing me and the organization I represent, LABI, primarily because (1) I have expressed c…
Jindal's still in his 40s, but his failed presidential bid pretty much solidified the conventional wisdom that he's no longer one of the national party's up-and-coming stars. At home, his reputation remains in the cellar two years after he left office, leaving behind a fiscal crisis that lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards have yet to solve.
He's kept a low profile since then, but perhaps this signals a change.
Overly personal criticism of those who oppose the current governor’s proposal for addressing the “fiscal cliff” reminds me of advice I once re…
Same for a couple of recent public letters by some of his close lieutenants pushing back on the sense that ongoing fiscal calamity is Jindal's fault. Stephen Waguespack, who took over the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry after leaving the governor's office, wrote in a letter to the editor that Jindal's not perfect, but neither is Edwards. Jimmy Faircloth, Jindal's executive counsel, wrote too to suggest that Jindal deserves credit for having tried to enact structural changes but ran into political interference.
As for Jindal himself, guest op-eds in national publications have long been one of his go-to profile raisers, and the Wall Street Journal has been a friendly venue. Apparently it still is.
The real question is, if he's looking to get back in the game, will voters be as welcoming?