“There is a tendency among the Left and some Republicans that say you can either be conservative or smart. And I think that’s insulting and not true. I’m making the case that we can be both,” Jindal said in an interview with National Journal. “Folks that disagree with conservative ideas should resort to debating the ideas instead of name-calling.”
Jindal told National Journal that if he runs for president, his campaign would center on telling hard truths. But, in reality, Jindal has avoided many of the tough political choices in favor of what’s in his short-term political interest. On education, he’s embraced numerous state-level measures aimed at increasing accountability and choice—but, given that he’s calling for no federal involvement in education, he would be utterly powerless as president to implement those reforms. On foreign policy, he sharply criticized President Obama’s handling of terrorism but said he’d prefer to see other options to tackle ISIS’s gains “short of sending ground troops.” Back home, Louisiana’s debt has grown, causing Jindal to cut some state services, but the governor has avoided tax hikes to close the budget deficit, and he opposes expanding Medicaid to make up some of the difference.
Even many conservative Republicans who once counted themselves as Jindal fans are starting to cry foul. In an American Conservative piece headlined “How Bobby Jindal Wrecked Louisiana,” conservative writer Rod Dreher wrote, “if Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign goes anywhere, it will not be because of his record governing Louisiana, but in spite of it.” The column was notable because the same author was one of Jindal’s biggest champions when he was first elected, saying he was confident that Jindal was “going to write the next great Louisiana story.” Conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru criticized Jindal’s health care plan on Bloomberg, writing, “The great flaw in Jindal’s plan is that it would cause millions to lose coverage.” Most significantly: GOP Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who’s looking to succeed Jindal as governor, told The New York Times that the state’s fiscal policy was “broken” and said he didn’t agree with Jindal’s “general approach.”