Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Bobby Jindal Is Such A Good Louisiana Politician

Cenlamar has been running a series of blog post on Progressive Louisiana folks. He talks to retiring (and consistent Jindal critic) State Senator Butch Gautreaux. See Summer Interview Series (Part Three): Senator Butch Gautreaux.

Now I am not going to debate the policy differences between Jindal and Gautreaux and between Louisiana conservatives and progressives.

But let me point out these parts:

If I were Governor, my top three initiatives would all involve communications. I’ve observed Governors become more and more removed from the citizens of Louisiana. There was a time not too long ago when a citizen could actually get the Governor on the phone. Understandably, that can’t routinely happen, but there are cases where, once screened, a return call should come from no one but the Governor.........

He them later says:

I would say that Bobby Jindal is the most effective politician I have ever witnessed. I have not ever before witnessed the State being ruled by one person.

While creating fear among legislators, Jindal has created an adoring fan base...

Fear? Well there is always that tension between the Governor and the legislature so I would not read too much into that. However he is not alone in that viewpoint is a very good politico with a lot of fans. In fact he echos sentiments of another white democrat :

"Bobby Jindal is the best politician that Louisiana's ever seen. And that's not a compliment." - Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth.

Now policy differences aside how does Jindal do this? This is where the disconnect comes in and what the good Senator does not get. There have been vast areas of this state where you are lucky to see a Governor more than once in his term. In fact there are many parts of this State where you might see a Governor not come by in nearly a decade.

Republican Governor Mike Foster was the worst at this sadly as too North Louisiana. There were running jokes about it in the newspapers. Still with most Governors in my lifetime their travels was pretty much within a 100 miles of Baton Rouge.

To be fair former Governor Blanco seemed to realize this problem as evidenced by her 8 years of Lt Governor. As Governor though Katrina woes though sidetracked her early. Yet that PHYSICAL PRESENCE in all parts of the State as LT Gov is one reason she beat Bobby when he first ran.

Governor Jindal on the other hand is all over the State and not just in the major cities or even mid major cities. It was rare to see a Governor in my small rural Parish yet I think Jindal has now been here 12 or 13 times. He has talked to various groups, local politicos, and average folks. This is being played out in numerous parts of Louisiana every week.

This new attitude coming out of Governor Mansion is something I had not seen in my lifetime. Thus when Louisiana Democrats tried to make hay out of Jindal's out of State travels it made little headway with parts of his base out in "provinces" as it were. They could not complain about Jindal going to Florida when they had an opportunity to meet their Governor numerous times in their own backyard.

Jindal like all executives have made mistakes , and yes Jindal has made some that have baffled me. However his real physical presence in parts of the State gives people a connection to Baton Rouge that perhaps they thought was missing before. This has helped him a great deal mitigate the bad decisions he might have made in the course of his first term. It has also been effective in putting out some serious fires on his right.

As they say all politics is local ,and Jindal has got that down to a science. The fact that he has done this translates into real influence. He is so powerful perhaps because he is bypassing the legislators and going directly to that next layer of politicos at the local level.

Now of course what was once great appreciated will now be expected as the norm. So Jindal in the future will no doubt get a diminishing rate of returns on this practice. However Jindal has changed forever I expect how the Governor , whether he is democrat or republican, must interact with his citizens both rural and urban and north versus south.

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