This just in: Bobby Jindal is NOT running for president in 2012.
That may have already been a foregone conclusion given the poor reception that his response to President Obama's pseudo-State of the Union earlier this year. Logistically, it would have looked very difficult, given that Jindal has to run for re-election as governor in 2011.
But it all but became definite that Jindal would not be part of the '12 Cattle Call when he uttered these fateful words earlier this week:
“I think now is the perfect time to pivot and to say, not only here’s what we’re against, and not only here’s how we’re going to contrast ourselves, but here’s what we’re for,” Jindal said in an interview with POLITICO.
Jindal acknowledged that the Republican Party for years had been too slow to stake out positions on the health care debate “to our peril and the nation’s peril.”
“I think that in some circles, it was viewed as a Democratic issue,” said Jindal, who served in top posts at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Bush administration and ran his state’s health department in the ’90s.
Jindal urged congressional Republicans to go to the White House and find common ground with Obama.
“Let’s start anew,” he said they should tell the president. “We’re willing to work with you in a bipartisan way.”
In short, he wants to work with the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress to craft a bipartisan bill.
Only problem is that the dynamics in Washington are running in exactly the opposite direction: The Gang of Six in the Senate fell apart. Republicans have determined that -- in the face of a the huge majorities Democrats have in both the House and Senate -- that it makes better sense strategically and philosophically to allow health care reform to either pass or fail on Democratic Party votes alone. And Democrats seem ready to do just that.
That way, come 2010, if the economy is still in precarious shape (a "double-dip" recession, for example) and few people see tangible benefits on the health-care reform, the GOP can rightly note that it would be Democrats who have all the fingertips on both the economy and health care. The tactic may be cynical, but it is certainly valid. However, that puts the party and the governor at cross-purposes.
Jindal wants to see the DC-based GOP to get its act together to make bad provisions better in the Democrat-passed bills; however, those self-same Republicans have determined that the smarter strategic play is to work to derail the health-care reform effort. And, considering the struggles Democrats are getting key provisions approved (a la the public option), perhaps there is something to be said for that.
Regardless, if Jindal were thinking about the White House right now, he would be doing far different things than urging members of his party to work with Democrats to get ObamaCare passed. If Jindal is focusing on actual policy instead of politics, it can only mean one thing: There's no White House in his immediate plans.