I find it amusing that so many people still ask, "Is Bobby Jindal running for president?" as if there's some doubt about the answer. Maybe it's because so many are still willing to take Jindal at his word rather than focus on his actions — as if he's somehow different from every other politician. The answer, naturally, is, "Of course he's running for president."
Too bad so many people are asking the wrong question.
The right question is, "Are Jindal's constant fundraising and posturing for national GOP audiences good for Louisiana?"
Let's compare Jindal's words to his actions in search of answers to both questions.
The governor says he travels the country raising money because he will need millions to seek re-election in 2011. He cites as an example his 2007 campaign, in which he faced "two millionaires who could self-finance" their efforts. He also says his travels present opportunities to promote Louisiana as a good place to do business.
Now let's look at his actions.
While it's arguable that Jindal might need millions in 2011, it's indisputable that in 2007 he beat those two millionaires — and a handful of others — in the primary without a national fundraising network. Moreover, if he keeps just half his campaign promises, he'll coast to re-election in 2011 with the money he already has on hand.
As for touting Louisiana, well, his actions belie his words. He has inked a deal for his first political tome — an autobiography to be published by conservative Regnery Publishing of Washington, D.C. The publication date, 2010, coincides nicely with both Jindal's re-election declarations and the early stages of the 2012 presidential campaign. Digging deeper, consider his explanation of the book deal: "I just want to offer my ideas and my experiences to the conversation."
Oh, yeah. That conversation. The one about the future of the free world.
Meanwhile, the invitation for a $5,000-a-plate event this past Saturday in Destin, Fla., described Jindal as "widely seen as a potential 2012 GOP presidential contender."
Which brings us to the question of whether his national ambitions are good for Louisiana.
Exhibit A: His overarching efforts to refuse portions of the Obama Stimulus Package.
On one level, his words suggest a principled stand. On another, the governor is working overtime to keep the Jindal Brand out there. His first attempt to reject unemployment benefits with "strings" won him plaudits from right-wingers, but it was later shot down by federal assurances that accepting the money would not require irreversible changes to Louisiana law. Then there are those thousands of unemployed Louisiana residents who could actually use the $98 million he wants to reject.
His later attempt to reject several million dollars in health care money was so picayune that it is causing a backlash. When Louisiana leaders seek funding in Congress, they now are greeted with the refrain: "Why are you asking for more money? Your governor is rejecting federal money. Louisiana must have solved all of its problems. How can you be asking for more money?"
The bottom line is that Jindal can't tout Louisiana as a good place to do business without admitting that we survived the last few years solely through massive infusions of federal dollars. And he can't then turn around and say, "No, thank you," without running the risk that congressmen and senators from other states will take him at his word.
Unless, of course, his real priority is himself and not Louisiana.