These days, former politicians frequently reinvent themselves as pundits, and ex-Gov. Bobby Jindal is no exception. Just this week, he put in an appearance on the Fox Business Network with Neil Cavuto, where he took the entirely predictable tack that the Democrats’ latest declared presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, is a nonstarter.
The thought occurred to me that maybe it takes one to know one.
O’Rourke is the former El Paso congressman who ran a spirited and unexpectedly strong race against Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz last year. He came up short, but emerged as one of the party’s people-to-watch, kind of like Jindal did when he lost his own first campaign for Louisiana governor to Kathleen Blanco. That didn’t stop Jindal from promoting the interview on Twitter by declaring that O’Rourke is “my favorite kind of democrat: A democrat who loses.”
In the segment, Jindal compared O’Rourke to Barack Obama, “and I don’t mean that as a compliment,” he said, labeling O’Rourke another smooth talker who hasn’t accomplished much but managed to earn glowing press coverage.
That sent me back into the archives for an interview Jindal did with the Times-Picayune editorial board soon after he was elected governor, just as Obama was making his move in the 2008 Democratic primaries. Here’s what Jindal had to say of the future president back then: "He just has an enthusiasm and genuineness about him that makes you want to like the guy. … I do find his rhetoric to be inspiring, and I think it's a good thing, because it will affect the rest of the field."
Of course, Obama proved to be a Democrat who won, which Cavuto pointed out. Jindal won too, for Congress and governor, anyway, before his 2016 presidential bid bombed so badly that he dropped out well before a single primary vote was cast.
The Democratic field is crowded, and it’s way to early to say whether O’Rourke is another Obama, another Jindal, or something in between. If he manages to hang in until the voting starts, though, at least he’ll have one up on the guy who was awfully quick to label him a loser.