There’s a noticeable desperation surrounding Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. It’s the desperation of a man who is still clinging to his reputation as the next big thing in Republican politics, even though it has been completely eroded away as the GOP has moved on to newer, fresher up-and-coming stars with far less political baggage. Jindal formed his presidential exploratory committee this week, and he’ll come into the 2016 race with just over one percent of Republican primary voters backing his candidacy, putting him on the same level as dead-end candidates Carly Fiorina and Lindsey Graham. In his own deep-red state, Jindal’s approval rating is abysmally low – lower than that of crummy socialist dictator Barack Obama. But he’s still out there, trying to stir the pot and force people to remember the good old days of Bobby Jindal: Republican Savior.
His latest attention-grabbing move is an executive order to “enforce the intent of a religious freedom bill” that failed to make it out of the Louisiana legislature. You probably recall last month’s conflagration over Indiana’s “religious freedom” legislation that would have given businesses stronger legal protections to discriminate against gay customers. Jindal, ever eager to insert himself into roiling controversies, declared his support for the Indiana law and said he’d push for Louisiana to pass its own “religious freedom” law which was substantially worse than the Hoosier State’s version. Jindal’s 2016 game plan seems to revolve around picking fights on cultural issues to endear himself to Christian conservatives, and a battle over gay rights fits nicely into that strategy.
He ran into a bit of a hiccup, though, when a Louisiana House committee voted overwhelmingly to effectively kill the “religious freedom” bill. Undeterred, Jindal issued his executive order. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman,” his office said in a statement.
So now Jindal, who pals around with some of the worst anti-gay bigots reality TV has to offer, can boast during the GOP primary debates that he single-handedly protected Louisiana’s religious freedom from the threat posed by equal rights the dignified treatment gay people. But in doing so, he’s exposed himself as something of a glaring hypocrite.
Consider what Jindal did here. His state legislature refused to move forward on a piece of legislation that he considered crucial. So rather than respect the will of the elected representatives, Jindal cut them out of the loop and took unilateral action. If you’ve been following the ongoing debate over immigration reform, then you’ve probably heard some of the vicious attacks Republicans and conservatives have directed at Barack Obama for unilaterally imposing "amnesty" by taking executive actions on deportations.
Any guesses as to which Southern Republican governor has been one of the most vocal critics of the president on this issue?
After the 2014 midterms, when Obama said he would move forward with an expansion of deportation protections for undocumented immigrants, Jindal lashed out at the president for crassly using the issue to distract from criticisms of his record. “He certainly doesn’t want to talk about his track record in terms of economic growth,” Jindal said in a statement. “He doesn’t want to talk about his track record in terms of health care or education or energy. I think this is a cynical attempt to change the topic.”
In December 2014, Jindal attacked Obama’s executive actions again, saying that Obama should work with Congress if he wants changes to immigration law: “If the President wants to make the case that the law should be changed, he should go make the case to Congress and our people. This is an arrogant, cynical political move by the President, and it’s why so many Americans no longer trust this President to solve the problems we face.”
And in February, Jindal celebrated a court decision halting Obama’s executive actions, calling the president lawless for ignoring the legislative branch. “On his own volition, President Obama ignored the law and the will of the American people,” Jindal’s statement read. “President Obama did this on his own because he knows the American people reject the idea and he couldn’t pass it in Congress. Fortunately, the rule of law is something President Obama cannot sidestep.”
It’s hard to reconcile these statements with Jindal’s own actions, but he’s probably thinking that Republican primary voters will overlook his hypocrisy given that he’s using his official powers to mount a stand against the advance of gay rights. And he’s probably right! Hell, this might even push him up to two percent in the polls. Look out, Rick Santorum! For Bobby Jindal, there’s literally nowhere to go but up.