The next Republican rock star

posted at 7:05 pm on February 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Bobby Jindal has begun his tenure as Louisiana governor with a splash. After just a few weeks on the job, he has forced the Democrat-controlled state legislature into a massive rehaul of its ethics rules and regulations, attempting to clean up one of the most corrupt governments in the US. He intends on rebuilding Louisiana into a place where investors don’t have to grease skids and bribe politicians, and to ride the economic boom that will follow to the highest levels in politics:

Downstairs, legislators gnashed their teeth, while upstairs at the Capitol here this week, the new governor claimed victory against the old customs down below.

Six weeks into the term of Gov. Bobby Jindal, an extensive package of ethics bills was approved here this week, signaling a shift in the political culture of a state proud of its brazen style. Mr. Jindal, the earnest son of Indian immigrants, quickly declared open season on the cozy fusion of interests and social habits that have prevailed among lobbyists, state legislators and state agencies here for decades. Mostly, he got what he wanted.

Mr. Jindal, an outsider to that rollicking if sometimes unsavory banquet, a Republican with a missionary’s zeal to smite Louisiana’s wickedness at one of its presumed sources, called on the Legislature to reform itself and its high-living ways.

Grudgingly, pushed by public opinion and business pressure, it went along. When the legislative session ended Tuesday, lawmakers had passed bills aimed at making their finances less opaque, barring their lucrative contracts with the state — some have been known to do good business with them — and cutting down on perks like free tickets to sporting events. The bills, which advocates say will put Louisiana in the top tier of states with tough ethics rules, now await Mr. Jindal’s signature, which should come early next week.

Jindal managed to turn the rudder on decades of a culture of corruption within weeks. Part of this success, Jindal himself acknowledges, comes from the twin disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. When state emergency services utterly collapsed, especially in the first hurricane, residents of Louisiana began questioning what kind of incompetence and fraud they had financed. It gave an impetus for reform, and Jindal — as an outsider — embodied that sense of crusade.

At 36, Jindal became one of the youngest governors in American history. He has his work cut out for him in Louisiana, but if he can succeed in transforming the swamp that has been state politics into even passably ethical, he could write his own ticket. The danger for Jindal is that the swamp has usually defeated reformists, either by cutting short careers as interest and support dwindle or by co-opting them into the swamp.

At least with the latter, Jindal appears to have wisdom to avoid that. Jindal wants a shot at the brass ring, the opportunity to become the first Indian-American president. And he knows that the GOP is looking for heroes. The ranks of Republican governors has thinned, and opportunities will abound for a young crusader cleaning up the muck of politics as usual.

The next few years will belong to men like Mark Sanford and Haley Barbour. After that, Jindal could find himself on the short list for presidential hopefuls. In 2020, he’ll be about the same age as Barack Obama is now — but Jindal will have executive and legislative experience, along with the reputation as a clean-government activist. The Republicans may not even be able to wait that long to have Jindal as their national leader.

UPDATE: “Hundreds of years” would be difficult, since Louisiana entered the union 196 years ago.  I’d bet the corruption goes even further back, but in the interest of accuracy and understatement, I changed it to “decades”.

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Jindal is not going to accept a VP nomination. He’s a fighter. Jindal could have remained on “easy street” and continued to run for Congress in his district and win easily. He could have run for the US Senate to represent Louisiana and also have won easily. He’s taken the explosive challenge of trying to revive Louisiana and alter it’s course from a bottom 10 performing state to a top 10 performing state.

This may be one of the most politically ambitious goals I have ever seen. He genuinely wants to alter the course of history for Louisiana. He may have Presidential aspirations, but I’m pretty certain he’s in the Louisiana revival game until it’s won.

Jindal’s campaign tactics of using public disclosure are huge political winners. When he campaigns, he pledges to have donor data posted to his website in 48 hours. This is light years faster than the disclosure to the FEC. It’s a simple mechanism that takes advantage of new media and the voters love it. He doesn’t hide the donor money. There is no “back room dealing”. It’s an open campaign and the door is always unlocked.

gabriel sutherland on February 29, 2008 at 10:01 AM

I don’t get it? Are we supposed to crown him because he is a minority?

Is he supposed to be our reaction to Obama?

etan on February 29, 2008 at 9:59 AM

Governor Jindal is not a reaction. He’s a leader and a tough conservative. Elected Governor in ’06, he is an acting executive, who btw had executive experience before getting elected.

BHO is a reaction.

Saltysam on February 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM

Saltysam on February 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM


BHO is a reaction.

BHO has no executive experience.

Conservatives will elect conservatives. Infatuation with principle is color blind.

Saltysam on February 29, 2008 at 12:02 PM

born in Baton Rouge, just as American as you are, if you are.

Chakra Hammer on February 29, 2008 at 12:17 AM

You missed the point and I don’t have to prove my citizenship to you.

baldilocks on February 29, 2008 at 2:59 PM

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 11:29 PM

Interesting Funky… pretty funny since you don’t have a clue about the “oil business” yet put a nice blurb from rueters on here about My Gov.

Did it happen to mention the reason why Palin happened to do that? other then the little blimp you put on there. FYI Palin did that due to the Unit (area) not being Developed in a timely manner. I.E. there are regualtions for what is going on and if they do not abide via State or Federal Rules then the Gov or the DOE can fine them. Hmmmm didn’t realize that now did ya!

Also the oil companies are dickering with not just the State of Alaska, but also the Federal Gov concerning a natural gas pipeline to be brought down to all the screaming liberals in the lower 48, that want cheaper heating! The Oil Comps want more and are willing to screw each other out of the deal as well, so no one gets the natural gas and the price can go higher.

Also, Alaska hasn’t had the best governors lately and all they did was spend. At least Palin cut the budget in HALF and made it feasible for the future.

Interesting how some people don’t look into the whole reason and just go off what they read.

upinak on February 29, 2008 at 3:55 PM

But many also question his Indian”ness.” They don’t like the fact that he converted from his origional Religion, Hinduism, to Catholicism. Many that I’ve talked to wonder if there is anything really Indian left about him except his skin color.
PresidenToor on February 28, 2008 at 8:27 PM

His conversion is the only thing I have against him, being a Hindu myself, but I usually vote for people I agree with, regardless of whether I like them or not, so I would definitely support him if he were a future candidate. From a national POV, the possibility that there may be nothing ‘really Indian’ left in him is a positive, particularly in a GOP field that puts either individual or country above sectarian groups.

Incidentally, INC (February 28, 2008 at 8:07 PM), thanks for the Rush interview.

infidelpride on February 29, 2008 at 5:14 PM

Ed Morrisey,

I tip my hat to you for your great call in posting about Bobby Jindal!

A few weeks ago I talked about Bobby Jindal under one of these topics on HotAir. I posted a summary of his resume-bioography. He, and his resume-biography, are quite impressive, to say the least.

I am so disappointed at Obama, Clinton, and McCain as the main, most supported presidential candidate choices that I was even considering writing Bobby Jindal, or J C Watts in for president.


William2006 on February 29, 2008 at 5:30 PM

Alden Pyle on February 29, 2008 at 8:10 AM

His family video is here. His wife’s name is Supriya Jolly Jindal, and he has 3 children.
His wife looks different from the Huma that was linked above: the latter sounds more like a Muslim. Speaking of which, I do hope that he is as anti-Islamic as they come, and not a panderer of Islam like Bush or McCain.

infidelpride on February 29, 2008 at 5:36 PM

One more thing – don’t want to see him on a losing ticket with McCain – that wont enhance his reputation. Rather see him and Palin run in 2012.

infidelpride on February 29, 2008 at 5:38 PM

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