By Robert Mann
Is it really news that the nation’s least popular and most inept governor, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, also ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in American history?
Hardly. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Louisiana politics could have told you two years ago that Jindal’s presidential campaign was doomed. When he dropped out of the race on Tuesday, was anyone even remotely surprised?
In fact, if I may boast for a moment, his failure is what I predicted in my New Orleans Times-Picayune column in July 2013, a year before Jindal announced for president:
[Jindal] doesn’t realize it yet, but it will be a preposterous adventure. He will never be president because he’s simply an awful candidate. Ever since revealing a burning desire for a role on the national stage, he’s mostly reenacted various versions of a Wile E. Coyote impression. Jindal seeks attention, presents what he thinks is a supremely clever speech or column and, Boom!, the whole thing blows up. Smoking and hair singed, he slinks back to Baton Rouge to plot his next humiliating appearance before another befuddled audience.
Instead of wasting most of the last four years chasing the impossible dream, many in Louisiana believe Jindal’s time would have been better spent governing Louisiana. Instead, in his absence, the state veered into the ditch.
Louisiana’s budget is in such disarray that it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want his job. The state faces a crippling $500 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year. The new governor who takes over in January must immediately deal with a massive budget crisis while also trying to close an estimated $700 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins in July 2016. Jindal’s fiscal mismanagement is only one reason his job approval rating in a recent poll was a mere 20 percent.
Throughout the five months of his official campaign, Jindal was never a factor. In fact, it’s possible that the first time some voters heard about his presidential campaign was when they read that he had dropped out. Jindal will be lucky to be a footnote in the history of the 2016 race. Even so, his failed effort might contain a few important lessons about the challenges of running for president, in general, and the current political environment, in particular.
The 2016 race is not favorable ground for governors, especially failed governors. The Republican electorate is in an ugly mood. GOP voters aren’t enamored with political insiders and career politicians, which is to state the obvious. Donald Trump and Ben Carson wouldn’t be leading the GOP field if voters were looking for political experience. Jindal’s problem, however, was compounded by the fact that his record as governor was, by almost every measure, an abject failure.
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