Michael Gorman: Jindal could be a contender

Michael Gorman HoumaToday.com

Perhaps we underestimated Gov. Bobby Jindal.

All this talk of a run for the presidency has yielded more scoffs than nods of approval. I am guilty myself of minimizing his chances of getting any real national traction.

Even here in Louisiana, people have been slow to take him seriously as a candidate for the highest office in the free world. Perhaps the skepticism is especially formidable here, where we have had years to witness his ineptitude and stunning, tone-deaf ambivalence toward the people he is supposed to be serving.

But make no mistake: Jindal could be ready to climb up that political ladder. If hypocrisy, double-speak and tortured logic are — as they appear to be — prerequisites for high political service, he may well leap onto the national stage in the coming months.

Each day seems to bring another reminder of why Jindal could be perfect for Washington, D.C.

Most recently, he issued an executive order to place into law what the Legislature — the body entrusted by the state Constitution with writing state law — refused to pass.

Keep in mind that this is the same fellow who whined incessantly when President Obama issued an executive order to accomplish some of the immigration reforms he was unable to achieve through the constitutionally described congressional process.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not defending Obama’s action in making an end run around the legislative process.

I’m merely pointing out the significant similarities between what Gov. Jindal objected to so strenuously on the part of the president and his own deeds when they resulted in his desired political outcome.

Hypocrisy, of course, is nothing new or shocking in the political realm, but Jindal has a real gift.

This whole debate over his “religious objections” bill was an excellent example of his leaderless leadership — the uncanny ability to latch onto the right wing’s cause du jour and wring every bit of publicity he can out of it without standing for or achieving anything.

Jindal — who has made headlines in the past year telling vicious lies about a religion — actually had the nerve to cloak this latest embrace of bigotry in talk about “religious liberty.”

Turns out that liberty, like executive orders, is just for those with whom Jindal agrees.

But don’t think religion and homosexuality are the only topics that can be turned into electioneering hot buttons for a candidate motivated enough to get that right wing vote.

Even our students are fair game for Jindal and his political machine.

Jindal once deserved most of the credit for getting Louisiana on board with nearly every other state in adopting Common Core educational standards.

Those standards — popular with most of the folks who actually know what they are — were a huge part of Jindal’s education reforms.

Unfortunately for Louisiana, some of the loudest Republicans decided that Common Core wasn’t a multistate effort to improve schools after all. Instead, it was some sort of horrific plot to insinuate the federal government into the state’s proper role overseeing education.

That was nonsense, of course, and someone as bright as Jindal had to know that the education reforms he had recently supported weren’t part of a federal takeover of education but an effort to haul Louisiana’s schools out of their traditional place at the bottom of nearly every national measure of success.

That didn’t keep him from turning against one of the few ways our state has tried to improve its schools in recent years.

His loud objections aside, Louisiana is unlikely to turn back the clock on education reform. It might happen, but at this point, there seems to be more of a resignation in Baton Rouge to suffer through Jindal’s final remaining weeks of legislative session under his gubernatorial term and just see that he leaves that office.

What’s up next is up to him.

If his professed hatred of truth, equality, tolerance and education are any indication — and we have numerous historical examples that suggest they are — the sky’s the limit for this right wing wannabe.

Houma (La.) Courier and Thibodaux (La.) Daily Comet editorial page editor Michael Gorman can be reached by email at mike.gorman@dailycomet.com.