Imagine my surprise on Tuesday to hear the voice of Mitt Romney on the phone. Fresh from his triumphant visit to Europe, Romney was calling to say his aides had shown him a few of my recent blog posts about Gov. Bobby Jindal that examined the 1994 article Jindal published about his participation in an apparent exorcism.
“That’s some strange stuff,” Romney chortled. “Almost as strange and me and my friends down at the temple, baptizing the souls of dead Jews.”
Gov. Romney quickly got to the reason for his call. “A lot of my evangelical Christian supporters are pushing me hard to put Bobby on the ticket,” Romney said. “He’s young, attractive, a minority and the Christian right loves him.”
“That’s all true, governor,” I replied.
“But, I don’t know. It’s risky. He’s young, but maybe too young. Not tested. I don’t want another Sarah Palin on my hands.”
“Don’t worry, governor,” I reassured him, “Jindal can easily answer all the trick questions Katie Couric can throw at him, like, ‘What newspapers do you read?’ and ‘Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?’”
“I know this is unorthodox,” Romney said after a long pause. “But would you be willing to play devil’s advocate for me? Give me a memo with all the reasons I shouldn’t pick Jindal?”
“Sure,” I said. “I’ll give it a shot.”
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August 1, 2012
To: Governor Romney
From: Bob Mann
Reg: Gov. Bobby Jindal
You asked me to provide you a memo in which I should “play devil’s advocate,” detailing all the reasons why you should not choose Gov. Bobby Jindal as your running mate. First, let me make it clear that while I am happy to offer this advice, I do not plan to vote for you in November. Nonetheless, I regard it my patriotic duty to help whenever a president or a potential president asks for my help or advice. So, I am pleased to offer the following reasons why I do not believe you should choose Jindal.
He does not bring you Louisiana. You already have it. One reason to pick a vice president is that he will help you carry a state or a constituency you cannot win otherwise. Jindal is governor of a very reliably Republican state. Louisiana is already in your back pocket. You should choose a governor or senator from of a state you must win, such as Ohio or Florida or Virginia.
He would not help you carry one southern state you do not already have. Just as Louisiana is safely in your column, so is most of rest of the South. Any state where Jindal would have considerable influence is already a state you have. One Southern state you want to carry, Virginia, has a very popular and able governor you might consider. Bob McDonnell can help you carry Virginia; Bobby Jindal cannot.
Not a dependable speaker. If you haven’t seen it already, you should watch several episodes of “30 Rock.” Pay special attention to one character, Kenneth the Page. Then watch Jindal’s speech in February 2009, in response to President Obama’s health care address to Congress. If that disaster of a speech is not enough to raise doubts about Jindal’s strengths as a stump speaker, consider that only last month, in talking about the President’s health reform plan, he slipped and called it “Obameycare.”
He participated in an exorcism and wrote a lengthy magazine article about it. For more information about that, consult my blog post about this. Suffice it to say that I do not believe you will want to spend two weeks of having your campaign dominated by talk of quirky religious practices, his and/or yours.
Lack of transparency. Jindal has talked a good game about ethics and transparency, but he has been among the most secretive governors in Louisiana history. Here’s what the Baton Rouge Advocate said in an editorial: “Upon first taking office as governor, Bobby Jindal promised to expand transparency in state government. Jindal has consistently broken that promise during his years as the state’s chief executive.”
He has a reputation for appointing political hacks and campaign donors to office. You’ve recently been attacking President Obama for his practice of appointing campaign contributors to jobs. Should you put Jindal on the ticket, say goodbye to that line of attack. Jindal has done the same, in spades. He also has a penchant for finding well-paying state jobs for washed-up and defeated state legislators.
He does not tolerate dissent. Jindal seems to surround himself with sycophants. If someone working for Jindal – or even someone in a leadership position in the Legislature — steps out of line and dissents, that person usually loses his or her job. Jindal is clearly not comfortable with dissent. I also wrote a blog post about that, which you may want to read. As I noted, “Strong leaders, of course, aren’t threatened by dissent. Actually, they welcome and encourage it because they recognize what it is — a great way to involve others in improving your organization.” As someone experienced in leading organizations, you will want to surround yourself with people who understand the value of dissent.
There is no Louisiana miracle. Despite what Jindal says, Louisiana’s economy is still sputtering. Corporate and sales tax collections, a good indicator of economic growth for a state, are still very weak. The state still has rising out-migration and weak population growth. Its per capita income is still very low. We have one of the highest poverty rates in the nation and are among the lowest in educational attainment.
He has mishandled his state’s budget. Despite constant talk about getting spending under control, Jindal has presided over years of budget crisis. Each year, Jindal’s budgets are balanced, but only because the state constitution requires it and he depends very heavily on one-time revenue. In this regard, he is clearly not a pure fiscal conservative. To quote the conservative American Spectator: “[F]or the past three years the budget process has been a mad scramble to break piggy banks from Bastrop to Cocodrie in an effort to fund what is now $25.6 billion in state spending. . . . Jindal has the stroke to force through the cuts to balance Louisiana’s budget if he chooses. But the governor has opted for the one-time money instead.”
He has crippled Louisiana’s higher education system. Under Jindal’s watch, higher education funding has been slashed dramatically. The state’s flagship university, LSU, has lost 10 percent of its faculty. Under Jindal, state appropriations for LSU have gone from 60 percent of the university’s budget to less than 40 percent – all in less than four years. While Jindal talks about never approving a tax increase, tuition costs for middle class families have soared. In fact, Jindal has presided over the largest higher education tax increase in Louisiana history.
His voucher plan is about two dozen scandals waiting to happen. Jindal rammed a private school voucher plan through the last session of the legislature. It will deliver millions in public funds to private and religious schools, many of which reject evolution in favor of creationism. While you may find this initially appealing, you should be aware that the program was passed in haste and implemented with even more haste. There are about two dozen scandals waiting to happen as specific schools receiving voucher funds come under media scrutiny. The media revelations so far should cause you concern. The standards for these private schools is also fairly weak, which has already brought Jindal some negative national attention.
I hope this memo has been helpful. I could list several other reasons why you should consider someone else, including the pending destruction, by Jindal, of Louisiana’s public health system. But I believe the points above should be enough to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.
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And then I woke up. I had apparently taken too much melatonin. That stuff really makes me have crazy dreams.
- Bobby Jindal Would Make An Awful Vice President, Say People Who Support Science and Reality (patheos.com)
- Louisiana Creationism Is National News (sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com)
- The case against Bobby Jindal for vice president – Washington Post (blog) (washingtonpost.com)
- Jindal Goes Berserk Over Obamacare Ruling – Time For An Exorcism! (dailykingfish.com)
- Gov. Bobby Jindal, the Goldilocks veepstaker? (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Gov. Jindal campaigning for Romney, possible VP bid (wwltv.com)