Tuesday, 22 May 2012 04:30

Beltway Boys Drink Bobby Jindal Kool-aid In Romney Veepstakes

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Optimized-koolaide3The Republican Party must be in a pretty sorry condition these days for the hottest prospect for the vice presidential nomination is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. According to the National Journal’s Hotline “Veepstakes,” Jindal is now ranked second. He is being pushed hard by influential conservative activists such as Morton Blackwell of the Leadership Institute and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Editorial writers such as syndicated columnist George Will, David Frum of CNN.com and Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner are singing Jindal’s praises and encouraging the presumptive GOP nominee to choose the Louisiana Governor as his running mate.  

All of this chatter is quiet disturbing for these “Beltway Boys” have not done their homework on Louisiana’s Governor. They are drinking the Kool-Aid supplied by the Jindal public relations machine. According to former Jindal Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell, this Jindal for VP movement is “organic,” yet nothing could be further from the truth.  

The Jindal team has been preparing for his rise to national prominence from the beginning of his political career in the 2003 campaign for Governor of Louisiana. After losing that race, Jindal immediately began a campaign for Congress, which he used as a stepping stone to run for Governor in 2007. Upon his election, Jindal instantly started traveling across the country. In the last five years, his travel has served several purposes such as selling a book, giving political speeches and raising money for his campaign and the Republican Party. What has been missing from these extensive travel plans is any actual work for the people of Louisiana, his constituents who should be receiving his undivided attention. No Louisiana Governor has ever spent so much time out of the state on personal and political business. Every time the Governor travels, the struggling taxpayers of Louisiana have to pay for his security detail; however, the well-funded Jindal campaign refuses to reimburse the state treasury for this ever growing expense.  

While Jindal has been playing selfish politics, he has neglected to help fellow Republicans in Louisiana. In the 2008, U.S. Senate race, Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy received a late and half-hearted endorsement from Jindal. This was better than Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne received in his 2011 race against a well-funded Democrat. In that race, Jindal refused to endorse the Republican candidate, preferring to bypass the Louisiana election in favor of generating another political IOU outside of the state.  {sidebar id=16} 

The “Beltway Boys” claim that Jindal is a “strong conservative.” If so, why hasn’t Jindal ever appeared at a Tea Party event in Louisiana or lifted a finger to help the most important conservative political movement to appear in this country in generations? Obviously, Jindal does not share the same conservative values as Tea Party members. A Governor who supports John Alario, a former top lieutenant to liberal Governor Edwin Edwards, as Louisiana State Senate President is no conservative.

In this legislative session, he is pushing to raid state accounts, such as the Rainy Day Fund, to balance a budget with a deficit of $220 million. Real conservatives in the Louisiana House of Representatives are opposing Jindal’s tactics, which he has used every year since being elected Governor. Overall, he has delivered no fiscal reform and his one important tax reform initiative, a lowering of state income taxes, was only accomplished after the legislature forced him to support the repeal of the dreaded “Stelly” tax plan. He showed his appreciation to legislators by vetoing their legislative pay raise, after publicly promising them he would support it.   

What about his supposed ethics reform package, the highlight of his tenure as Governor? It exempted the executive branch of state government, which makes it quite understandable that the Governor’s office has been ranked very low on such important measures as openness and transparency. Clearly, the Governor and his team want to keep inquiring minds away from what is going on in his administration. In this session, he has approved the elimination of the one corruption and fraud watchdog in the executive branch, the Inspector General. This office is critical for a state that was just ranked #1 in the nation in public corruption, according to Governing Magazine and last on the good government and economic vitality “Camelot Index” rating. 

 Louisiana is a state with a well-deserved reputation for political corruption. It is one major reason why we cannot attract enough good paying jobs to keep pace with our Southern neighbors. It is a major reason why Louisiana has suffered from a stagnant population and lost two congressional seats, a quarter of our delegation, in the last 20 years.

For a state with such a sordid history, eliminating the Inspector General position sends a horrible message; yet, Bobby Jindal must not be concerned. His public relations team is spinning a tale of a conservative reformer who is a policy wonk that would complement Mitt Romney on the ticket. 

Hopefully, Romney’s vetting process will discover the real truth about Jindal. Poor performance aside, he would be a terrible choice. He hails from a red, not swing, state. He is not charismatic and is a poor retail politician. He gives boring speeches, witness the 2009 GOP official response to the Obama State of the Union address. Finally, he has practically no private sector experience, which is the complaint Republicans make about Barack Obama. Having Jindal on the ticket would compromise one of the GOP’s most compelling arguments against the President.

 Overall, the Jindal for VP phenomenon is hopefully a passing and distressing fade, like the Pet Rock or New Coke.  To the Romney campaign it would be wise to remember the old adage, “let the buyer beware.” While the packaging of Governor Jindal may be slick, it would be wise to open him up and look inside; it is an entirely different story.

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Jeff Crouere

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at jeff@jeffcrouere.com

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