There are unmistakable similarities between President Barack Obama and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Both men are relatively young, articulate and intelligent. Both men are minorities who are considered political trailblazers. Obama has reached the ultimate political prize, the White House, as a Democrat, while Jindal is considered by many to be the “Republican Obama.”
In recent months, both men have suffered political setbacks. Obama’s leftist policies have been very unpopular with the American people. His party took a horrible “shellacking” in the mid-term elections, losing control of the House of Representatives. In response, President Obama has been moving toward the political center. He signed a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts; he created a commission to eliminate red tape in government. In recent weeks, he has been meeting with business leaders to develop policies to improve the employment situation. According to the President, his State of the Union address will be focused on job creation. Do these moves mean Obama is no longer a liberal? Of course not, for all of these efforts are parts of his plan to masquerade as a moderate. While Obama has not changed his liberal stripes, his political standing has changed with the American people who are responding favorably to his supposed move to the middle. Prior to the mid-term election, Obama suffered from an approval rating that hovered around 45 percent. Today, he approval rating is ten points higher at 55 percent, according to the latest CNN poll.
In Louisiana, Bobby Jindal’s approval rating has dropped 22 points in the past two years. Pollsters point to the Governor’s heavy travel schedule and his cuts to higher education and healthcare as the causes for his falling support. However, after the last poll was released, Jindal has been spending more time at home, visiting all 64 parishes in the state, and reducing his out of state fundraising schedule. With his re-election campaign set for the fall, Jindal is trying to improve his political standing in Louisiana. The Governor is also finally offering the type of bold reforms many expected when he was elected. Last week, Jindal proposed the merger of UNO and SUNO, a move that makes sense and will save money as the state deals with a huge budget deficit. Unfortunately, over the past few years, Jindal has been a caretaker in Baton Rouge instead of a reformer. With an election season approaching, Jindal is finally offering some substantive ideas.
Clearly, he has also been distracted by his desire to be a presidential contender. Over the past few years, Jindal has made no secret of his interest in national politics as he has appeared more often on Fox News than local media outlets. Nevertheless, the exposure has not helped Jindal become a national Republican star. The Governor must realize that his national political ambitions have dimmed since his disastrous GOP response to the President’s State of the Union message. In fact, most of the presidential polls today do not even include Jindal. His much publicized book, “Leadership and Crisis,” did not induce a buying frenzy at bookstores. According to Amazon.com, Jindal’s book was ranked 19,622th in sales, not exactly a best seller..
Both Obama and Jindal saw a significant drop in public support and responded by making real changes. The President has been criticized for his liberal policies, so he is moving to the center. Jindal has been criticized for his travel schedule and his lack of attention on state matters, so he is spending more time at home and proposing an innovative way to reduce spending. It seems that Jindal and Obama have one more thing in common; both of them can read poll numbers.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].
Jindal Talks UNO-Southern Merger At Jefferson Parish Luncheon