Former Gov. Bobby Jindal has attracted widespread derision since the Wall Street Journal a week or so ago published his column blaming President Barack Obama for the disaster that is Donald Trump.
Good for Jindal, because we needed a good laugh as we grapple with the distinct possibility that a coarse ignoramus of fascist bent could be the next president.
That prospect evidently does not faze GOP primary voters, who seem inclined to think Jindal and the Republican establishment he adorns are the real disaster.
Although the WSJ piece seems to have set the blogosphere alight, this is not the first time that Jindal has maintained that Obama created the conditions that gave rise to Trump. He has been plugging that theory since his maladministration of Louisiana still had a few months to run and his hopes of the GOP nomination were alive, at least in his own mind.
Indeed, Jindal initially rejoiced that Obama’s alleged inadequacies had fueled the rise of Trump. It was a sign that voters were demanding “a politically correct conservative revolution,” and they would soon realize that Trump is a “madman” who has “no principles.”
Then they would turn elsewhere for an antidote to Obama, and who better than an “Ivy League educated son of immigrants,” a “gun-owning, God-fearing Conservative, who’s made a career of beating Democrats?” In a CNN piece last fall, Jindal declared, “I’m the guy who can lead” the revolution. Nobody had the “backbone” to say Trump was “the wrong messenger,” Jindal wrote. “Well, I do.”
What Jindal did not have the backbone to say was that he had adopted some of the unprincipled madman’s policies. He agreed with Trump, for instance, that the children of illegal immigrants born here should no longer enjoy automatic citizenship, although that would require repeal of the 14th Amendment. Jindal, evidently keen to fight Trump for the xenophobic vote, also wanted the mayors of sanctuary cities arrested for crimes committed by illegal aliens.
In the very next paragraph, after congratulating himself for his unique backbone, Jindal called Trump a “narcissistic egomaniac.” This was hardly the first sign in the piece that Jindal really needs to work on his sense of irony. He had started off railing against the “incompetence” of the Obama administration, and went on to say Trump is not the answer because he “believes only in himself.”
The folks back home, meanwhile, were concluding the seldom-seen Jindal probably was the most irresponsible bungler who ever governed Louisiana. Jindal signed off his CNN piece by assuring readers once again, “I am the guy who can lead the revolution.”
So he was writing funny stuff long before his latest WSJ effusion.
His thesis — that nominating Trump would hand the general election to Hillary Clinton — was received wisdom at the time, and the proposition remains highly persuasive today. If Obama did beget Trump, he did his party a great favor. Still, received wisdom also said Trump would soon flame out — when what Jindal called the “summer of silliness” was over.
Jindal, meanwhile, took to lambasting Ted Cruz for failing to denounce Trump. Cruz, according to Jindal, was angling to inherit support when the Trump campaign fizzled.
Instead, it was Jindal who was handed his hat, whereupon he demonstrated that his political instincts remain intact by casting his lot with Marco Rubio.
Now Rubio has flopped too, only Cruz is given much chance of stopping the Trump juggernaut, and Jindal has been proven wrong at every turn. He remains eager to favor the public with his views, however, and now opines that “without President Obama, there is no Donald Trump.” According to Jindal, “after seven years of the cool, weak and endlessly nuanced ‘no drama Obama,’ voters are looking for a strong leader.”
But that doesn’t explain why primary voters should prefer Trump to all the elected eminences of the GOP. Ask Jindal, for instance, to name a strong leader and he will point unhesitatingly to himself. That voters don’t agree can hardly be laid at Obama’s door. The Republicans have brought this on themselves.
As a result, we have a front-runner for the nomination who not only wants to bring back waterboarding but calls for even more exquisite forms of torture that would reduce America to the depraved level of the Islamic State. There is no disputing Jindal when he says that “America deserves better” than Trump, but it sure is taking a long time for America to latch on.
James Gill’s email address is jgill @theadvocate.com.