Friday, April 5, 2013

The Fall of Bobby Jindal

A Chronology and Analysis
By Dayne Sherman
Talk About the South Column
Apr. 5, 2013 – 800 words
The drama started with a wreck on March 17. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s entourage of black, presidential SUVs was in a fender-bender. The governor was not injured, but it appeared to be a bad omen for the next two weeks. It is difficult to keep up with the bad news for Jindal and his cronies. Here is a rough outline of the ongoing spectacle:
March 18: Clergy members deliver a letter to Jindal with 250 signatures of prominent ministers condemning his new tax swap plan, which will hurt lower- and middle-income citizens.
March 19: Jindal goes to the Bayou Corne sinkhole (“Lake Jindal”) after environmental activist Erin Brockovich shames him in the press for never visiting the evacuees or seeing the Superdome-sized hole in the ground. Simultaneously, his two central legislative accomplishments of 2012, K-12 education reform and state retirement reform, both previously ruled unconstitutional, go before the state Supreme Court.
March 20: The LSU Faculty Senate passes a no-confidence vote on the LSU Board of Supervisors as it hires a new system president. The LSU Daily Reveille student newspaper threatens to sue the BoS over refusing to release the names of the job candidates. (Both the Reveille and The Advocate have since filed suit.) Intense meddling in the affairs of LSU by Jindal threatens the school’s accreditation and national standing.
March 21: News breaks that the feds have set up a grand jury to investigate alleged Medicaid contract fraud in the Department of Health and Hospitals, an arm of the Jindal administration, a department Jindal once led. In short, CNSI of Rockville, Md., received a contract, and the feds believe that there may have been shenanigans in rewarding the $200 million deal.
Worse, the contract was controversial from the start. DHH Secretary Bruce Greenstein used to serve as a vice president of CNSI. As the story went viral, the Jindal administration scrambled to crawfish out of the contract.
March 27: The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, a major Jindal cheerleader, joins the chorus of anti-tax swap voices, giving a clear indication that the tax swindle is dead, dead, dead.
March 29: On Good Friday, Greenstein “resigns.”
April 2: Southern Media Opinion Research releases a scientific poll paid for by Lane Grigsby, a conservative Baton Rouge businessman. The survey shows that Jindal has an approval rating of 38 percent, a rating below that of President Obama. This poll was run before the grand jury probe and much of the tax swap pushback hit the news. I suspect Jindal is now closer to a 30 or 35 percent rate.
I have offered only a brief overview of two weeks that mark the downfall of Bobby Jindal. What is missing is an array of damage control, even television ads trying to resurrect the tax swap corpse and propaganda coming out of every crack and crevice of the administration.

On April 8, the new legislative session begins, and this year’s signature tax swap legislation has already imploded while uniting the state’s disparate constituencies in an almost unbelievable way: Fiscal conservatives in the Legislature, higher education leaders, clergy of different traditions, the Black Caucus, the Democratic Party, LABI, the state’s public school teachers and others are uniting against Jindal and his savage attack on the state.
The last time I saw a collective movement in Louisiana anything like it was against David Duke, the former Klansman. And it was not as broad-based or as quickly mounted as what we are witnessing with the downfall of Jindal.
What does all of this mean?
It means Jindal is finished. The Medicaid scandal alone may end his political career. Indeed, canceling the contract will not stop the federal investigation. Furthermore, I predict that the governor’s approval rate will be at 25 percent by the end of the summer.
No matter if it takes a criminal indictment or a fall worthy of Greek hubris, Louisiana will be better off once Jindal leaves the mansion.
Louisiana does not need to recall Bobby Jindal. Instead, we must demand that he resign from office immediately.
Perhaps Jindal should be run out of Baton Rouge atop a wooden rail like the Klansman and “reform” candidate Homer Stokes in the comic film O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Likewise, I believe state legislators unable to comprehend the change in political climate will find themselves unpleasantly surprised. During the next election cycle, I can see many leaving office riding an oak beam just like the disgraced movie politician named Homer Stokes.

Dayne Sherman lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and he is the author of Welcome to the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. Website at



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