By Robert Mann
Gov. Jindal, it’s time to quit. Not your campaign for the White House, although I think that would be wise. I’m mean that you should resign the governor’s job that has lost your attention and consumes little of your energy.
These are dangerous times, and Louisiana needs a full-time governor completely focused on our challenges. It’s not only our budget crisis, but also other serious problems that still require an active governor’s attention in the final year of his term.
You’re rarely in Louisiana these days. When you are home, you’re more interested in writing op-eds for out-of-state newspapers.
Many years ago, when asked if you were running for president, you would respond, “I have the job I want.” Some of us doubted you then. Now, everyone knows you have a job you don’t want.
So, just resign. Hand over the office to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who wants your job and would surely devote himself to Louisiana’s problems during what’s left of your term.
There’s precedence for this, you know. In 1996, Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., was running for the Republican presidential nomination. He was also majority leader of the U.S. Senate. Eventually, he knew he could not run for president, fulfill his Senate duties and effectively represent his Kansas constituents. Something had to give. Like you, he wanted the White House more than his current job.
So, Dole resigned. His White House bid, he said, was “not merely about obtaining office. It’s about fundamental things, consequential things, things that are real. My campaign is about telling the truth, it’s about doing what is right, it’s about electing a president who’s not attracted to the glories of the office, but rather to its difficulties.” As his campaign began “in earnest,” Dole said, “it is my obligation … to leave behind all the trappings of power, all comfort and all security.”
Dole could have continued serving as majority leader while he ran for president. Then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson had done so in 1960. But Dole quit. “I will then stand before you without office or authority, a private citizen,” he said, “an American, just a man.”
It’s not that you cannot do the job of governor. You’re smart. You have plenty of valuable experience at various levels of government. You’ve just never applied your considerable skills and intelligence to dealing with our enormous problems.
We have some of the nation’s highest poverty and worst health outcomes and you’ve done little to address them. Baton Rouge, your hometown, has the nation’s second-highest HIV rate (New Orleans is fourth), but you’ve done nothing to address that crisis. What you have done is hollow out higher education and inject needless confusion and rancor into the state’s elementary and secondary education system. Meanwhile, the state’s health care system is a fractured, dysfunctional mess under your privatization schemes. Now, you’ve outsourced the state’s tax policy to Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform.
Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.