Last week, Gov. Bobby Jindal appeared on CBS' Face the Nation, where moderator Bob Schieffer began by playing Jindal's famous quote from 2013: "We've got to stop being the stupid party. And I'm serious, it's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. It's time for us to articulate our plans and our visions for America in real terms." Schieffer's first question to the governor: "You said, 'We've got to stop being the stupid party.' Well, how is that going?"
One day later, Jindal answered that question.
The day began with one of Jindal's frequent what-ails-this-country op-eds, this one in National Review, in which he offered 10 pieces of advice for President Barack Obama on how to "jump-start the American economy." He criticized Obama's support for increasing the minimum wage, saying it would leave "more Americans earning zero dollars an hour" — forgetting, perhaps, that in 2007, when he was a U.S. representative, Jindal voted yes to increasing the minimum wage. And he demanded Obama use executive orders to move forward some of Jindal's pet issues, including approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and progress on education reform (read: vouchers).
Jindal still had the minimum wage foremost in his mind that afternoon when he attended a White House lunch for the members of the National Governors Association (NGA). The lunch — a capper on an NGA meeting weekend — featured Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and Obama asked for the governors' help on several issues, including raising the minimum wage. As the lunch ended, the governors gathered just outside the White House doors for a press conference. After a few words of comity from governors on both sides of the aisle, Jindal took the mic and declared, "What I worry about is that this president, the White House, seems to be waving the white flag of surrender. Under five years of this administration the Obama economy is now the minimum-wage economy. I think we can do better than that."
The other governors shuffled embarrassedly. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin — like Jindal, a Republican and now NGA president — recognized that this wasn't the time or place for grandstanding and tried to move forward. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy took the mic from Jindal and said, "You just heard what I think ended up being the most partisan statement that we've heard all weekend." Referencing the minimum wage, Malloy added, "I don't know what the heck the reference is to the 'white flag' when it comes to people making $404 a week? That's the most insane statement I've ever heard." Walking away from the press conference, he called Jindal a "cheap shot artist."
Not surprisingly, Jindal took a victory lap on Fox News that night. "We don't have kings in this country," he informed host Bret Baier, referring to Obama's power of executive order — a power shared by presidents of both parties. "This Obama economy is now a minimum-wage economy," he added again for emphasis.
Where to begin with the hypocrisy? Jindal slamming Obama for supporting a raise in the minimum wage — when Jindal had voted for a similar raise six years ago as a congressman? Jindal slamming Obama over executive orders — on the same day he penned an op-ed calling for Obama to use those same orders to move along 10 of Jindal's pet projects? Slamming Obama, of course, was Jindal's point, and to hell with logic or consistency.
Jindal's publicity stunt was obviously red meat for the tea party constituency the governor now courts. The group GOPUSA sent out a mass email the next day with the headline, "Gov. Jindal Speaks Truth at White House; Democrats Horrified!" But that's still an odd strategy, even for a governor who clearly has his eyes on national office (the word "Louisiana" never once appeared in Jindal's National Review op-ed). It was reminiscent of former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry's gambit during a 2011 Obama speech to Congress, during which Landry unfurled a sign that read, "DRILLING = JOBS," as Landry sat and frowned throughout the speech. Tea party devotees cheered, but one year later the "moderate" U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany trounced Landry by 20 points in the Louisiana 3rd District the two GOP incumbents shared after redistricting.
Jindal shows every sign of having his eye on the White House in 2016 (he still claims to be merely mulling the run), but he's not even registering on early polls of GOP candidates. "Cheap shot"? Maybe. "Long shot" or "no shot" — that's more like it.