The concession speech Jindal won’t give, but which could salvage his legacy

Screen shot of Gov. Bobby Jindal speaking to the American Enterprise Institute in October 2014.

Screen shot of Gov. Bobby Jindal speaking to the American Enterprise Institute in October 2014.

By Robert Mann

Here’s how Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign will probably end: he will finish sixth or seventh in the Iowa caucuses about this time next year. Almost broke, he will forgo the New Hampshire primary (that state allows crossover voting, so he stands little chance there).

He will then limp into South Carolina. There, his dreams for the White House will meet their humiliating end. He will be crushed again. After a day or two, he will hold a press conference in Tallahassee (or Madison) in which he will throw his support and his zero delegates to Jeb Bush (or Scott Walker).

Jindal’s reputation, already in shreds in Louisiana because of his disastrous handling of the state’s finances, will sink to its lowest level. He’ll be out of office by then, so it won’t make much difference to voters who are celebrating the end of his wretched tenure. David Vitter or Jay Dardenne will be governor by then, working furiously to clean up the stinking fiscal mess that Jindal left behind.

The narrative about Jindal will be about what it is now, only almost every person in the state will ascribe to it: in hapless pursuit of the presidency, Jindal ignored Louisiana’s problems because the solutions to those problems conflicted with his national ambitions.

Jindal refused to lead and he allowed the state to go under. When the state needed him most, during the 2015 legislative session, he was never around. On rare occasions he appeared in Baton Rouge, his presence was a hindrance. He did nothing to help the state. Every Machiavellian move was made with Iowa and South Carolina in mind.

People will say that Jindal left Louisiana far worse than he found it. Many will say – and some of them will be prominent Republicans – that Jindal was the worst governor in Louisiana history.

The overriding narrative will be that Bobby Jindal sacrificed Louisiana on the altar of his presidential ambitions.

By March or April of 2016, Jindal will be back in Baton Rouge, living in temporary housing and sulking – trying to figure out what to do next with his life and career.

His political Svengali, Timmy Teepell – who is today telling him he has a real chance to win the GOP nomination – will be busy counting all the money he made off Jindal’s embarrassing, quixotic quest for the White House. (Smiling, Teepell will think to himself: “Dang, I was right. You can make a lot of money off a losing presidential campaign.”)

That’s one way Jindal’s presidential campaign can end – and it’s the most likely outcome.

But, there is another way Jindal could give up his presidential hopes.

This way would give him a chance to salvage something of his reputation and, more important, it might do some good for his state.

Jindal won’t take this route, of course, but if he did, it would transform his political stock, in Louisiana and beyond. While it wouldn’t earn him the presidential nomination, it could repair what’s left of his reputation in Louisiana and it might even make him a viable candidate for a cabinet post, if Bush or Walker should defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016.

The scenario that Jindal will never choose would involve Jindal delivering a speech in the next week or two in the press conference room on the fourth floor of the State Capitol. During that press conference, Jindal would say something like this:

It’s no secret that I’ve wanted to be president and that I thought I had the qualifications for that difficult job.

Our country desperately needs a president who is willing to take on radical Islam, defeat it and send its murderous adherents straight to hell.

Our country needs a president who knows how to spark an economic rebirth in this country for the beleaguered middle-class.

Our country needs a president who can enact a responsible and effective health care plan. 

Our country needs a president willing to let the states set the own course in education and who gets Washington out of the way. 

Our country needs a president committed to religious liberty. 

It’s time to take this country in a new direction and I believe I have the vision and the talents the country needs. 

But, at this time in Louisiana’s history, my state needs me more. 

We are facing the most serious fiscal crisis in our state’s history. Every minute I would spend thinking about putting together a presidential campaign would be a minute I would not be devoted to solving our crisis – saving our health care system from ruin and our college and universities from disaster. 

Every day spent outside Louisiana is a day I could not devote to making certain the last year of my time as governor is about, as Drew Brees says, “finishing strong.”

I want to finish strong. I want help put our state back on strong financial footing. I want to make sure Louisiana has a  strong tax system that makes sense for businesses and individuals. I want to leave our universities stronger, so that our young people are better prepared for a 21st century economy in which we are competing not just against Georgia and Texas, but against China and Germany.

I want to shore up our health care system for the long haul. I want to find a way to provide health insurance for our state’s working poor.

To make the very hard choices necessary to save our state, Louisiana needs a full-time governor.

I will be that governor.

Therefore, I am today announcing that I will not seek the presidential nomination of my party. Instead, I promise to not leave the state until my term of office is over.

I will dedicate my every waking moment to securing a strong future for Louisiana. The stakes are too high for me to leave home. The risks are too great. Without strong leadership, Louisiana colleges will be devastated. If that should happen, it would take a generation to rebuild them.

I could not live with myself for putting my personal ambitions ahead of my state’s future.

So, I say to members of the Legislature, and to every citizen of this state, let us make 2015 about reviving our state.

Let us devote ourselves to making the hard-but-necessary choices to secure our future. I offer my hard-but-necessary decision as the first step in our state’s rebirth. I hope you will join me.

God bless you all. And God bless our great state.

Jindal’s speech would not only make national news and bring him praise from every political corner; it would instantly elevate his stature in Louisiana. It would restore his waning political power. It would allow him to reassert himself politically among legislators. It would give him standing to push hard choices on lawmakers and would give him the political freedom to make those hard choices.

It would instantly change the way that Louisiana’s voters view him and give him a fighting chance to recast his legacy.

It would give Jindal an opportunity to exit the presidential campaign on his terms. He would take back his narrative.

It would give him the freedom to stop committing embarrassing political stunts that do nothing to further his presidential ambitions, but which only cheapen his political stock at home.

In other words, such a speech would transform Bobby Jindal.

No one around Jindal will give him this advice, because they all have an economic or political interest in his presidential aspirations, win or lose.

And there’s no reason he should accept political advice from me, an unrelenting critic. But someone around Jindal who considers himself a friend ought to tell him the truth.

Because no one will tell him the truth, we all know how this story will end – badly, for Jindal and for Louisiana.

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10 Responses to The concession speech Jindal won’t give, but which could salvage his legacy

  1. bucktownpirate says:

    Reblogged this on The Daily Kingfish and commented:
    Y’all read this.


  2. Ken Burk says:

    That is a really fantastic piece, Bob. I had considered what it would take for him to devote himself back to the state, but also figured that it would never happen.


  3. RealWorldGuy says:

    You wrote a great speech that bobby will never give, even though much of the rest of the world recognizes the basic truth of your analysis. But he is, according to one of his middle school teachers quoted in LouisianaVoice, incapable of admitting he has made a mistake. Your lovely speech would require him to recognize/admit that not only had he and his actions hurt Louisiana, but that the Conservative ideology, upon which he has based his entire political career, doesn’t work. It is hell for Conservatives when the Real World exposes the fallacies of the Conservative Alternate Reality.


  4. earthmother says:

    Bob, you have nailed the reality of Jindal’s doomed quest for the presidency and his complete abdication of his responsibilities as governor. An interesting idea that the operatives around him are enriching themselves by withholding the bald truth that Jindal will never occupy the White House.

    You know the old saying that if a person cheats on their spouse they would do the same to the person they cheated with? I can hardly believe that Jindal would discharge presidential duties any more than he has his duties as governor – BECAUSE HE DOES NOT CARE AND DOES NOT KNOW HOW. IT’S ALL ABOUT HIS AMBITION – THE MAN HAS NO JOB SKILLS. And he is completely corrupt. He is the worst governor since Richard Leche.

    BTW as a complete aside, I will not vote for Jay Dardenne for governor (or anything else), as he has also completely abandoned his ONE constitutional duty as Lt. Governor. His job is to be on official status when the governor is out of state. His duties at CRT are a legislative nicety to give the Lt. Gov. something to do when the governor is in state. I cannot respect someone who does not have the courage to step up and do their job. No one elected Kristy Kreme Nichols governor.


    • Fredster says:

      earthmother, how exactly does that work when lil booby leaves the state? Does he have to formally name the Lt. Guv as “acting” while he’s gone via some statement or something? if so, it’s’ possible bobby won’t sign anything remotely like that.


      • earthmother says:

        From the website of Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Governor:

        “Lieutenant Governor

        The lieutenant governor serves as governor in the event of a vacancy in the office of governor or if the governor is unable to act as governor or is out of the state. The lieutenant governor is an ex officio member of any committee or board on which the governor serves. Otherwise, the lieutenant governor has the powers and duties delegated to him or her by the governor or as provided by law.”

        This is constitutionally mandated. The governor is supposed to notify the Lt. Gov. when going out of state. Dardenne has complained that Jindal does not notify him of his travels, but since those journeys are reported by the news media and we all know when Jindal is away and where he is, I have to assume that Dardenne is also aware of the governor’s absence from the state. He does not need anyone’s permission to be on official status – that’s his duty under the constitution. The Jindal people claim that modern communication technology makes it unnecessary for the Lt. Gov to be on official status, but we all know what they think of laws and the constitution: like most sociopaths, their attitude is the rules don’t apply to them.

        In case you’re wondering, I’ve worked for several Lt. Governors.


      • Fredster says:

        Ah, I see. Thanks for your reply.


  5. swimcoach says:

    This is a great essay, but you left out the other option Bobby Jindal has. He has gone around the country raising money for other Republicans. He has sided with the far-right GOP in Congress. If the GOP gets the White House, Jindal will call in all the trips and money and speeches he made for other Republicans, governors or congressmen, and get a Cabinet job. Maybe not a Cabinet post but the No. 2 or No. 3 position in some department. After all what did Jindal do before becoming governor? He is a bureaucracy wonk and always has been — remember how after the last hurrciane he stood before TV cameras and read off the number of streets that got power back or number of sand bags used? He may never have really believed he could win the White House, but he could put out enough IOUs to Republicans to get that office with 5 assistants where he can sit and read federal regulations.


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