Beam: Jindal says GOP must change

By By Jim Beam / American Press

Louisiana citizens may be losing some

of their enthusiasm for Gov. Bobby Jindal, but our governor’s national

ambitions got

a shot in the arm with the Republican Party’s defeat in the

presidential race. Jindal immediately stepped into the national

spotlight.

Much has been written about the reasons

GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost, but Jindal places most of the blame on

the narrow interests

of the national Republican Party. We got the governor’s assessment

from Politico, a political journalism organization that

publishes a newspaper and uses TV, the Internet and radio to

spread its messages about activities in the nation’s capital.

The Advocate of Baton Rouge said Wednesday Jindal chose a national outlet for his first post-Election Day interview after

rejecting requests from state reporters. He obviously wants broader news coverage.

Jindal told Politico, “We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts,

big corporate loopholes, big anything,” he said during a 45-minute telephone interview. “We cannot be, we must not be, the

party that simply protects the rich so they can get to keep their toys.”

That’s pretty tough talk for a

Republican conservative. However, Jindal said the GOP shouldn’t retreat

from its stances opposing

abortion rights and gay marriage, but should soften its tone on

those highly controversial issues. He was especially critical

of comments on rape and abortion made by two U.S. Senate

candidates who lost their elections Nov. 6. Republicans Todd Akin

of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, both favorites, were

defeated because of their highly offensive comments.

“It is no secret we had a number of

Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments —

enough of that,”

Jindal told Politico. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone

says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated

within our party. We’ve had enough of this dumbed-down

conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the

intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting

the intelligence of the voters.”

The tea party movement won’t take

kindly to Jindal’s remarks about “simply being the anti-Obama party.” He

added, “You can’t

beat something with nothing. The reality is we have to be a party

of solutions and not just bumper-sticker slogans but real

detailed policy solutions.”

A number of Republicans believe immigration reform will help improve their party’s image with Latinos, who voted overwhelmingly

for President Obama. Reform could include stronger security on the border and a limited amnesty that would give a path to

citizenship for those in this country illegally.

Politico said Jindal agrees with border security, but dodged repeated questions about whether he supports some sort of amnesty

or favors deportation of those here illegally.

“I think the president has said he wants to present a comprehensive approach; I think we as a party need to hear what he has

to say and offer our ideas,” Jindal said.

Louisiana citizens know exactly what

Jindal is talking about in education when he says, “Let the dollar

follow the child instead

of making the child follow the dollar.” It’s his state voucher

system that is allowing 5,000 Louisiana students to go to schools

of their choice on government money. Charter schools, private and

parochial schools and home-schooler parents benefit.

Jindal made it clear he doesn’t share Romney’s view that 47 percent of the American people want a handout and won’t support

a Republican presidential candidate.

“The Republican Party is going to fight for every single vote,” he said. “That means the 47 percent and the 53 percent, that

means any other combination of numbers going up to 100 percent.”

The governor has consistently refused

to say he’s running for president, but anyone who doesn’t think so isn’t

tuned in. Jindal

has been running for president for the last four years, and he’s

going to keep running for the next four. He’s mentioned often

as being among the top seven GOP contenders for 2016.

Thanks to his continuous nationwide

travels, Jindal is well-known outside Louisiana. However, his critics in

the state say

other Americans aren’t getting a true picture of the real Bobby

Jindal. Over the last five years, the governor has managed

to offend legislators, higher education leaders, public school

teachers, state employees and health care advocates and providers.

Jindal supporters will tell you those

groups needed to be jolted out of their inefficient ways of conducting

the state’s business.

An Advocate reader put it this way: “... The reason I know he is

doing such a great job is the ‘whiny left’ constantly attacks

him with their name-calling and petty attacks.”

Give Jindal credit for understanding how the political winds are blowing. And although he appears to be open to compromises that could enhance the Republican Party’s image, he’s still a no-tax, small-government advocate.

The people of Louisiana, however, would

appreciate it if Jindal didn’t continue to insult their intelligence by

saying he’s

got the best job in the world and only wants to be focused on

being governor of Louisiana. We know he has presidential ambitions,

and there is nothing wrong with that. So why not just admit it?

• • •

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or jbeam@americanpress.com