Saturday, March 28, 2015
2016 Governor Bobby Jindal Presidential Ambition: Power Vacuum in Louisiana Capitol or What?
Keywords or terms: Governor Bobby Jindal; Louisianans; Personal Ambition; Times-Picayune; New York Times; Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne; State Capitol; AWOL; American Exceptionalism; Indian-American; Poverty Rate; Health Outcomes; Health System; Aggressive Slashing of budget on Education; CNBC.Com; American Economic Legislative Council; Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran; and US Presidency
Bobby Jindal is gradually, if not completely, abdicating his responsibility to citizens of Louisiana; and, the various interest groups forming his constituent are crying out for help. There were reports that the governor has been out of the state for about fifty-percent of the time, seeking his personal ambition for a national office, while the duties and responsibilities of his office are left unattended. No matter how indifferent the governor is to current assessment of his state’s economy by many well-meaning Louisianans and outside observers, the shadow of his constant absence from the State’s Capitol, is unacceptable to tax payers and continues to undermine whatever achievements he may be adducing to his stewardship as the Governor of the Pelican State.
In what is probably an indication that things are not well in Louisiana, the State most read and probably the leading circulated Newspaper, the Times-Picayune, called for Republican Governor Bobby Jindal to step aside and let the lieutenant governor take over, in an editorial arguing that his national ambition is overcrowding the enormity of the challenges confronting the state. Coincidentally, or collaboratively, Charles Blow of the New York Times, saw the sense in Times-Picayune position and advanced that Louisiana has enormous problems and deserves a full-time governor, not one that is always ready to take off; concurring with the argument that Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, take over at the State Capitol. If the State’s economy and revenue base ever turn uglier, the strains over the governor’s constant travels outside the state will not only divide the state, but also create probably the worst advisory for his national ambition.
The state of four and a half million people, bordering the Gulf of Mexico, has been going through revenue short-falls due to the falling world oil prices and poor priorities in budget cuts. The Pelican State or Sportsman paradise, is gradually losing its zing as her governor goes AWOL, making residents wonder why they allowed the first Indian-American governor to last this long, as they watch their health, education and infrastructure deteriorate, and economy tank. The ultimate issue before residents of the state now is for how long they are willing to have a governor, more interested in his national exposure rather than the advancements of the state’s economy and objectives. The backbone of the State Economy, big oil, is now in rough waters, will the state leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, continue to accommodate a fly-by governor? It was, and remains, the inevitable question, is the falling oil prices a pre-amble to more challenging future for the State’s economy?
Further, Poverty rate has been multiplying in Louisiana under Governor Jindal; health outcomes and health system, not much to write home about; and, an underfunded education system that is undermining the accomplishments of the State’s Research Universities in the past three decades. The governor is reported to have been away 165 days in 2014 and 74 days in 2013, while the state relies on borrowing and spending cuts, especially at public university to shore up the state’s budget. Aggressive slashing of the state’s labor force and budget, has handicapped so many business activities in the state and made Republican counterparts decry in no uncertain terms, the impact of budget cuts to all Louisiana public university system.
To make matter worse, Governor Bobby Jindal has directed his anger to all these observations in a letter forwarded to the New York Times editorial board insisting these observations regarding his stewardship as: “good examples of how liberals at The New York Times and I have a different opinion on how to measure successful governance.” The reality however, about how bad things have gone under his stewardship as governor of the state, is probably indisputable with current statistics on education, business competitiveness and economic performance ranking by CNBC.COM and the Conservative Group, American Economic Legislative Council. Comparatively with other states in the union, Louisiana is 45th on education impact of its citizens; 40th in business competitiveness, and, 29th economic performance and ranking. The future from here is not as promising as many of the state’s residents know and are clamoring for alternative direction for the State. These are what Governor Jindal has failed to recognize by taking issues with others who are assessing his stewardship against criteria that are universal for all governors; and are reasons to alert him that his absenteeism from the state capitol is impacting the residents adversely, and may be doing more harm than he might be thinking.
The moral and political implications of how Governor Jindal has conducted himself, bring out two fundamental questions: is the governor really ready for the dream he is chasing? Is he really ready for the national stage, if he cannot appreciate that his state is standing on a sinking ground? As the governor crisscrossed the nation in private planes at the largesse’s of wealthy business supporters, giving speeches and campaigning for Republican candidates to local offices, his own state continues to be mired in economic woes. While residents of the state are expecting leadership in many areas of the state’s economy, the Governor’s attention is completely focused outside the state, looking for other opportunities for himself. By one estimate, it is feasible that the governor will be gone away from the state capitol for more time, as the campaigns for the White House precipitate over the next one year.
Moderate Republicans in the state worry that there is a gap between Governor Jindal’s ambition and the reality of the national political terrain; competing against other well-established and better funded Republican aspirants, Bobby Jindal hardly stands a chance. The former vice-chairman of Republican Governor’s Association continues to live off the largesse’s of rich Louisianan’s families as the Davidsons of Ruston, Zuschlags of Lafayette and Chouest family of Bayou Lafayette as reported in the Advocate Online, while advocating draconian economic restructuring that has led to loss of jobs for thirty thousand state public servants and an unending shrinking economy. The rationalization of Jindal’s stewardship of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge by the governor himself as a success, brings out another angle to his national ambition, can this man understand the fault line in confrontations with other national governments, if arguably he ends up becoming the US President. A leader who can hardly appreciate that his state’s budget is facing a new reality due to the falling oil prices, can he know when to, and when not to, deploy force against perceived or real threats from Iran or North Korea?
It is conceivable that Governor Jindal current ambition to seek supports and funds for a National Campaign for the office of US Presidency, is more important to him that being the Governor of the State of Louisiana. What will hanging around Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the State’s Capitol, do for him considering his national ambition? Such a question is probably the explanation for his muted decision to travel outside the state constantly, without batting an eye-lid. However, that is hardly what honorable statesmen do. When you are confronted with a decision to seek a different office; and the responsibility and duties of your current office seem to be overshadowing the possibility of reaching your higher or national goal; the ideal thing to do is to step down, give a genuine and heart felt explanation to your constituent for stepping down and immerse yourself in your new endeavor or enterprise. Anything short of this, is hardly honorable; and, this is what Louisianans are seeing and calling for the governor to step down.
Just as the apostle of Noam Chomsky’s caricatured new religion, American Exceptionalism - Bobby Jindal, has a muted response to his job approval rating of 28 percent as a governor of his home state, so is Louisianans’ discomfort with his using the state as a stepping stone to the higher office. It is true that the US Presidency is a more prestigious office for the child of an immigrant like him, so also are Americans outside the state wondering about the Governor’s antics with the context of national politics. Is he just lip-frogging the concept of American Exceptionalism to divert attention from his ineptitude as a governor or shortcomings in executive office? Can Governor Jindal really mount a successful campaign for the White House, when he has conducted himself as a traitor to the nation by signing Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran, on current White House negotiations on that nation’s Nuclear Ambition? The major opposition to the governor’s action on this issue is good enough turn-off to kill his ambition. The current slate of Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination have a better chance of being nominated over Governor Jindal as the party’s flag bearer; and this alone, is good enough for the Indian-American to see the writings on the Wall and return home to Baton Rouge. However, if he doesn't, there is no other way than see him as a governor not only about to go through implosion at his state level; but also, on a national stage.