A spot check throughout the state turned up few Jindal sightings. Calls to newspapers and officials in numerous parishes responded that there had been no sign of the Governor in their part of the state in years. Yes, Jindal gets his traveling shoes on when there is a hurricane a churning. But even his one visiting mainstay, north Louisiana evangelical churches, rarely see the governor any more.
Previous governors in recent years thrived on the “retail” aspects of speaking all over Louisiana. Back when I served as state senator in the 70s, it was tradition that you always showed up when the governor was in your legislative district. It seemed a month would not go by that Edwin Edwards was not somewhere in my part of the state, often for multiple visits.
When the legislature was in session and we were meeting in Baton Rouge, it was standard procedure for the governor to call and ask legislators in a district where he was speaking to tag along. Edwards was a military pilot in Wordd War II, and often flew the plane himself with the state pilot along as co-pilot. The most harrowing flight I ever took was with EWE in the cockpit flying the plane.
I joined several legislators, including current Senator Francis Thompson, to attend a dedication by Edwards of a new parish hospital up in Tallulah. (That’s northeast Louisiana along the Mississippi River for all you non-rednecks.) We took off to return to Baton Rouge with the governor flying the plane when, I kid you not, the door of the aircraft fell open at 1500 feet. Those of us aboard went from sheer terror to cautious relief as EWE made a wobbly landing back at the Tallulah airstrip.
When I served as Secretary of State back in the early 80s, then Governor Dave Treen was also a consummate traveler and speaker statewide. He often flew in a state helicopter, and public officials like myself were welcome to join him. Treen was a vociferous reader; reviewing in detail every piece of proposed legislation being considered by the legislature. On a trip I took with him for a speech in New Iberia, he barely said a word, spending the time flying over and back studying one proposed law. It was an understatement that he was a real stickler for detail.
Governor Mike Foster rarely left the state but traveled extensively for public appearances in Louisiana. He hosted a weekly radio talk show heard statewide, and took any question that was called in. Foster also aggressively courted legislators with invites to his Franklin plantation home and his fishing camp at Grand Isle.
John McKeithen was a two-term governor in the 1960s before I entered public office, and his presence was abundant all over Louisiana. Big John was a civil war history buff, and would often make side trips to some historic battle site in the state. I had a family connection to Davis Island, the home of Jefferson Davis, the first president of the confederacy. At least once a year, the Governor would call to ask if he could travel up to the Island by helicopter, and walk the historic grounds. He knew more Louisiana civil war history than anyone in the state. And he talked about past civil war events in his speeches across Louisiana.
All these governors kept their sole major focus on Louisiana. Yes, several of them, including McKeithen and Edwards, flirted with national office ambitions, but they always kept Louisiana first. Bobby Jindal is not even close to these previous governors in relating, speaking and traveling the state, and connecting with voters. He has walked away from the job he used to boastfully say was “the only job he ever wanted.” Jindal sightings in Louisiana are as rare as his chances of obtaining national office.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.