Hallelujah, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has finally found his niche in the 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. He’s going to be the political equivalent of the guy on the street corner waving a sign and hollering at passersby that the devil is near and they must all repent before we find out the Book of Revelation is nonfiction.
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Read this screed by Jindal and ask yourself if it is the most unhinged editorial written by a Republican candidate for president in the 2016 cycle. It certainly has to be near the top of any list. After an opening paragraph imagining the dark future where President Trump is starring in “Celebrity Apprentice: The White House,” Jindal goes into the apocalyptic language. The Obama administration has pushed America “to the edge of a socialist abyss!” Trump is a “madman who must be stopped!” I half-expected an embedded video of the mushroom-cloud montage from the end of "Dr. Strangelove" to pop up at any moment.
This comes as part of a ramped-up effort on Jindal’s part to attack Trump. He (or his social media intern) spent the last couple of weeks tweeting out vaguely joke-shaped comments aimed at the GOP front-runner. Last week Jindal gave a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, where he called Trump a narcissist, an egomaniac and a carnival act. Which makes one wonder if Bobby Jindal has been in a coma for every presidential campaign of his lifetime.
This is not to blame Jindal for taking this tack. The guy is polling around below 1 percent nationally. He has been stuck on the undercard for the first two presidential debates and has shown no sign of breaking out. Sure, it’s a long campaign, and he can stay afloat as long as his super PAC can keep fundraising. At this point, though, he is where he is and he’ll most likely stay there. Short of setting himself on fire, there is not much he can do to raise his profile. So why not take the swings at Trump that the higher-polling candidates – I’m looking at you, Jeb! Bush – seem reluctant to take.
Besides, it’s not as if Jindal has anywhere else to go. He’s restricted by Louisiana’s constitution from running for a third term as governor. And even if he weren't, his constituents have noticed that his administration has been a disaster and a national embarrassment. His latest budget imposes draconian cuts statewide, the natural result of his instituting income tax cuts and failing to plan ahead for a drop in oil prices from the sky-high levels of his early days in office. He cut education down to a level Scott Walker can only dream of, to the point that Louisiana State University is seriously considering declaring “financial exigency,” which is the college equivalent of bankruptcy. He signed a bill allowing the state’s schools to teach intelligent design in place of evolution, a move that earned him a public rebuke from his own professors at Brown, where he earned a dual bachelor’s degree in biology and public policy. And he did this while pushing a school voucher program that would allow public funds to be used to pay tuition at private, and often unaccredited, religious schools.
His nastiest move was perhaps his response to the Planned Parenthood videos controversy over the alleged sales of “fetal body parts.” Jindal promptly canceled the state’s Medicaid contract with its only two PP clinics, neither of which provides abortion services. Screwing Louisiana’s poor and vulnerable out of needed health services because the voices in your head tell you, against all evidence, that these videos are accurate? That’s either stupendously dumb or cravenly venal.
Basically, Bobby Jindal is less popular in Louisiana than hurricane season.
So it’s no wonder he’s desperate to stay relevant and stay in the race. If nothing else, he needs to keep up his profile for the inevitable commentary gig on Fox News or somewhere in our nation’s vast archipelago of conservative talk radio shows. (Sadly, exorcisms are not a growth industry for a young go-getter.) Or maybe he’s aiming for the lucrative world of writing Young Adult science fiction. Based on this column, he already knows how to sketch out the requisite elements of a dystopian future ruled by mindless autocrats. Though with this Republican field, it’s a toss-up whether we’ll get “The Hunger Games” or “Idiocracy.”