A week doesn’t go by without Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal taking a potshot at President Obama. The Prez has kept a tight lip and publically ignores Jindal, but it’s obvious from press reports that there is no love lost between them. Despite the animosity, Bobby Jindal and President Obama have a lot in common.
First, both of them are cold fish when it comes to retail politics. Jindal and Obama don’t seem to enjoy pressing the flesh or networking with their political colleagues. Where Bill Clinton and George Bush were heavily engaged in calling and meeting with members of congress from both parties, Obama has been aloof and has failed to build personal relationships in Washington. Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell waited two years before he was even invited to a one on one meeting at the White House with Obama.
Jindal has been a no show at legislative gatherings for years. Outside of his annual address opening the legislative session, legislators complain that he is, for all practical purposes, missing in action. Since the legislature in Louisiana convened two months ago, Jindal, in his quixotic quest for national office, has traveled to Chicago, New York, Indianapolis, Dallas, Washington, Nashville, Lynchburg, Mobile, Atlanta, and New Hampshire. Yet he rarely travels the one block from the governor’s mansion to the state capitol.
Two of the loneliest spots in the nation on the weekend are the White House and the Louisiana governor’s mansion. Past presidents used to relish hosting state dinners and bringing in musicians and other noted Americans to honor their service. Not this president. The Obamas have hosted just six state dinners, where Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush threw more than 20, and Ronald Reagan hosted 35.
Hosting a dinner or reception in honor of special Louisianans is apparently off Jindal’s radar. Instead of crisscrossing the country weekend after weekend, wouldn’t it be refreshing for Jindal to stay home occasionally, and throw open the Governor’s mansion to honor Louisiana’s best and brightest? Why aren’t we inviting and recognizing a host of Louisianans -- returning military men and women, our outstanding musicians, athletes, artists and writers? In a state that’s at the bottom of numerous quality of life lists, wouldn’t it make us feel better to honor Louisiana’s own?
Both Jindal and Obama have religious issues that haunt them from their pasts. Obama’s pastor for 20 years, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, is noted for spewing racial epithets and hate talk, which the President has tried to ignore throughout his presidency. And Jindal? He has dabbled with the premise “ the devil made me do it.” His experience and writings about exorcism will be the fodder for much commentary if he continues on his quest for higher office.
And then there is the issue of Jindal and the President on Obamacare. In1998, Jindal served as the executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. There was talk then of the main component of Obamacare, the individual mandate. But the idea had overwhelming Republican support, and Jindal raised not a discouraging word about Obamacare. In recent years, however, Jindal has made opposition to Obamacare his mantra. Today, his opposition is all he seems to talk about. Jindal echos former presidential candidate John Kerry in feeling that, “I was for it before I was against it.”
So you see, Bobby Jindal and Barack Obama have a lot in common. They both go with the political wind, which raises questions about any core beliefs. Both of these guys reflect the former British Prime Minister Disraeli school of thought that says: “The voters are moving in the streets. And I must find out which way they are going, and then jump out ahead of them. For I am their leader.”