Political Animal


April 03, 2013 10:40 AM Bobby Jindal’s Ideological Freight

By Ed Kilgore

I noted briefly in the Day’s End post yesterday that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s approval ratings seem to be sinking like a stone. I’d like to wallow in that topic for a moment, not just for purposes of schadenfreude (though there is that), but because Jindal is so often touted as an example of the new wave of smart, pragmatic Republican governors who are the future of their party and perhaps our country.

The two big nationally significant “ideas” Jindal has made his signature are private-school “backpack” vouchers (i.e., kids and parents call all the shots on where the kid takes his taxpayer subsidy; taxpayers themselves or their representatives have no say, and schools are not accountable for any particular results) and the abolition of the state income tax in favor of higher sales taxes. Neither of these are particularly new ideas—particularly the craven “idea” of bribing the wealthy into bringing their capital into your state by assuring them the poor and middle-class will pay most of the public bills—but the chattering classes have poor memories, and even old chestnuts falling from Bobby’s mouth are often treated like jewels.

The latest poll from Louisiana, by the local firm Southern Media and Opinion Research, showed Jindal’s once-sterling job approval ratio dropping to 38/60 (by comparison, Sen. Mary Landriuex, often described by chortling conservatives as sure to lose in 2014, comes it at 55/41; and even President Obama, who’s lost the state twice by nearly 20 points, looks better at 43-56).

But how’s about Bobby shiny “new ideas”? The same poll asked about them, and the results aren’t that pretty. The approval/disapproval rating for Jindal’s voucher system is 42/53. For his “tax switch” plan to abolish income taxes, it’s 27/63. And on a proposal that’s not so much an “idea” as a blatant ideological move, Jindal’s efforts to privatize state public hospitals registers at 32/60.

As the Times-Picayune’s Lauren McGaughey noted in reporting on the poll, Jindal’s poor public standing is a matter of intense antipathy, not just lukewarm indifference:

When asked what letter grade they would give Jindal, nearly half gave the governor a D or F, with 29 percent giving him an A or B.

Right now, Jindal’s looking about as politically robust as Missouri’s Todd Akin, the guy Bobby recently mocked in saying the GOP had to stop being the “stupid party.” So the Boy Wonder better get his thinking cap on before he becomes that most pathetic of phenomena: the forgotten flamed-out phenom. But if he does continue to self-eclipse, let’s not forget to reassess the ideological freight he carried as well.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • biggerbox on April 03, 2013 10:52 AM:

    Poor Bobby. And now that '30 Rock' is over, he won't even be able to go back to his job as the page.

  • c u n d gulag on April 03, 2013 10:52 AM:

    Poor, poor, Booby J!

    What's a grifter do to go national, when even the local rubes, suckers, marks, dupes, bobo's, fools, morons, idiot's, and imbeciles, have spotted him as a really bad grifter, just out for their money, and it's not some new cure-all patent-medicine he's pushing, just the same snake-oil in a slightly darker bottle than the last grifter coming through town, sold them?

    All politics is local, Booby J.
    Even "stupid" politics!

  • gregor on April 03, 2013 10:59 AM:

    It appears that most of the non-whites attracted to the GOP are mostly grifters bending over backwards to take extreme positions that they think (correctly) are Republican positions.

  • Geoff G on April 03, 2013 11:11 AM:

    Ed - there's a typo in the first sentence of the second paragraph: "and schools are accountable for any particular results" is missing a "not".

    Remember the 90's when some Republican governors, like Tommy Thompson, John Engber, and, to a lesser extent Christie Whitman and Giuliani (not a governor, of course) were hailed as reformers bringing conservative principles to state governance? It would be interesting to look back at the sort of reforms they were proposing or enacting - my guess is that all the reforms were significantly to the "left" of what today's reactionary reformers are proposing. (I also wouldn't be surprised if some of more legitimate reforms were later co-opted by Clinton and the New Dems.) Which is kind of strange since conservative principles are supposed to timeless and universal.

    [Thanks and good catch. It has been corrected. I caught the typo in the first paragraph and missed this one. --Mod]

  • Mimikatz on April 03, 2013 11:22 AM:

    What a shocker. People whose taxes are being raised don't like it! So it turns out that the less share at least hat trait with the rich. There may be more not-rich than rich, but as long as the rich have all the power, they will use it to screw everyone else, at least in the red states, as repeated surveys have shown. Only when the not-rich mobilize their numbers will this change, if ever. And as long as racism as in divide-and-conquer is alive, the rich can be sure that won't happen. You'd think they'd catch on after 180 years, but you would be wrong.

  • T-Rex on April 03, 2013 11:23 AM:

    No, Geoff, the sentence IS correct. The public schools will be accountable for the results after the voucher program starves them of funds and siphons off their good students. They'll be left trying to achieve unrealistic improvements in the performances of the kids that no private school will admit, and being severely punished for failure to work miracles.

  • T2 on April 03, 2013 11:56 AM:

    Piyush Jindal had no future in the GOP. First, he's not white. Second, he frequently blurts out true statements about the GOP. I've been amazed that he got elected in the first place. Now he's raising taxes. Toast.

  • martin on April 03, 2013 12:20 PM:

    I'm guess those 29% giving him an A or B are the same ones who stuck with W until the bitter end.

  • RaflW on April 03, 2013 12:35 PM:

    He'll just flame up (like failing upwards). Some well-paying think-tank job will be his next step, and after a couple of years on the Fox and lecture circuit, he'll blame all of Louisiana's failings on libruls and position himself for some sort of comeback.

    The GOP has a stunningly short memory, particularly for elephants.

  • Stephen B on April 03, 2013 3:02 PM:

    Are you kidding me? Anyone who has taken even an entry level political science course should know that unless the sampling size is at least 2000, you can throw the whole thing out. You are basing this article off of a survey of 600 people? What a joke, but unfortunately I am not overly surprised.

  • Mac on April 03, 2013 6:32 PM:

    Politically speaking, it's time to start speaking of Bobby Jindal in the past tense. It's that bad for him.

  • Henry Miller on April 03, 2013 10:30 PM:

    "...the craven “idea” of bribing the wealthy into bringing their capital into your state by assuring them the poor and middle-class will pay most of the public bills..."

    If "the wealthy" make up 5 percent of the population, then their "fair share" of the public bills is 5 percent and the fair share of public bills of "the poor and middle-class" id 95 percent.

  • Bill Ireland on April 04, 2013 12:23 AM:

    This post is mostly snark, and not much substance, but here's an example of the misinformation in just one passage:

    "(School vouchers allow) kids and parents call all the shots on where the kid takes his taxpayer subsidy; taxpayers themselves or their representatives have no say, and schools are not accountable for any particular results ..."

    1. Kids don't call the shots in a voucher program. Their parents do.
    2. Students are already getting a "taxpayer subsidy" through public school funding. They currently just have no choice regarding its use. Vouchers give them that.
    3. The parents are taxpayers, so it's not accurate to say "taxpayers have no say ..." in a voucher program. Actually that is more descriptive of the current system.
    4. "Schools are not accountable for any particular results ... (in a voucher system)" This is not true. But oddly, it again describes almost precisely the current system.

  • Lucas Brown on April 04, 2013 3:39 AM:

    I read this and had to laugh.
    These polls are grossly inaccurate. I believe most of you are on the outside looking in, but I am unfortunately a product of the current Louisiana educational system, and for all of you who don't know, the current status quo system is failing us miserably. Reform is desperately needed. And Govenor Jindal proposed this voucher system as an alternative to the current unsuccessful one. The overwhelming majority that oppose this idea are teachers and there circles of friends who don't want to be held accountable for their student's quality of work and test scores. This new system would require them to actually make sure students comprehend and understand material. Dang. You mean do there job? That's absurd!
    But liberal media outlets and sympathizers look at these overtly biased polls and take advantage of them in order to tarnish and demean good intentions of a republican Govenor. He's a bright politician with a good heart, and Louisiana stands with him. People throw way too much stock into polls. Polls aren't always right, guys. And this one? Hah. Well. I can say with unwavering certainty this poll is wrong.

  • Brian A. Cobb on April 04, 2013 6:28 AM:

    Jindal flamed out way back in that first Republican response to an Obama State of the Union address, with Jindal looking like a child molester.