It was only 18 months ago that Gov. Bobby Jindal got national attention — his favorite kind — for a sharply worded interview in which he chided his fellow Republicans in the wake of the disastrous (for the GOP) 2012 national elections. "We've got to stop being the stupid party," Jindal said. "We've had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I'm here to say we've had enough of that."
As is often the case with Jindal, that was then; this is now. The governor may not be running, arms outstretched, into the arms of the "stupid party," but he's found one that's closely related to it: the Pander Party. The Pander Party is a bipartisan one — it was back in 1992 when Democratic presidential candidate Paul Tsongas referred to fellow candidate Bill Clinton as a "pander bear" — but Jindal seems intent on raising political pandering to an art form. In just the last two weeks, he has shamelessly sucked up to the farthest extremes of his party, and in typical Jindal fashion, his machinations and pronouncements were all sizzle and no steak.
First, there was his complete reversal on the Common Core educational standards — which he fervently supported before some in the tea party wing of the GOP became incensed by them. Seeing a chance to grab some national attention, Jindal issued several executive orders that purported to stop Common Core and the related Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. As the full impact of his "orders" became known, it became apparent that they were mostly political posturing. Several court battles are virtually certain to follow, and only then will the impact, if any, of Jindal's actions be determined.
Then there was his rejection of optional new Louisiana drivers' licenses that would meet the standards of the federal REAL ID program. A recently passed state law would have given Louisiana citizens a choice between renewing traditional drivers' licenses and getting new ones with extra security features (which will soon be required to board domestic airline flights). Jindal vetoed the compromise bill. Why? Because the Eagle Forum, the Louisiana Family Forum and the Tea Party of Louisiana all were against it — and Jindal never misses a chance to pander to those groups.
Jindal's veto message mostly attributed his decision to Louisiana State Police Supt. Mike Edmonson, who also urged a veto — but let's not forget that Jindal appoints Edmonson and can remove him at any time. Moreover, Edmonson reportedly claims that Louisiana need only scan Louisiana-licensed drivers' birth certificates into a database to comply with federal law. Really? And how much might that cost? And which Jindal contributor would get that contract?
Jindal again was in full pander mode several weeks ago at the Faith & Free-dom Coalition's annual conference in Washington, D.C., where he delivered the keynote address. "I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States, where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American dream for our children and grandchildren," he said.
Even among his traditional allies, Jindal's increasingly bellicose shtick is wearing thin. The most high-profile example is his handpicked state Superintendent of Education John White, who has agreed with Jindal on many educational issues — but not his recent flip-flop on Common Core. White recently accused the governor of bad faith and breaking the law in connection with his anti-Common Core executive orders. White said the governor "breached a constitutional line and broke the law in suspending assessments in Louisiana for reasons that defy the civil rights of our state's citizens." White and others are mulling the possibility of a lawsuit over the matter.
Jindal also seems to have lost the support of Jeff Crouere, a local radio talk-show host and former chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party. Crouere published an essay on the news website Bayoubuzz.com last week urging Jindal to step down. It was titled, "Do a Palin, Governor Jindal, Resign." "Governor Jindal should follow the lead of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin," Crouere wrote. "When being Governor of Alaska became too bothersome for Sarah Palin, she resigned her position to pursue a career as an author and Fox News political commentator. Palin longed for the national spotlight and to speak out on issues with broader implications than just Alaska, so she started traveling throughout the country.
"At least Palin recognized that she was bored with state concerns and that the voters of Alaska deserved a full-time governor," Crouere wrote. "Hopefully, Jindal will come to the same realization."
We couldn't agree more.