Monday Fix

Spotlight to Shine Again on Jindal, Perhaps Briefly

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is headed back to the spotlight to push a conservative approach to health-care policy. But is that all?
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is headed back to the spotlight to push a conservative approach to health-care policy. But is that all? (By Bill Feig -- Associated Press)
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By Chris Cillizza
Monday, July 20, 2009

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is preparing to reemerge on the national stage -- with a focus on health care -- by penning op-eds this week outlining his reform ideas and appearing on cable television shows Monday and Tuesday, including a Fox News Channel appearance alongside conservative commentator Sean Hannity.

"Governor Jindal has seen enough," said Curt Anderson, a consultant for Jindal (R). "As a health-care policy expert, he strongly believes that the House Democrat plan would be a disaster for the long-term health of the American people and the long-term health of the economy."

Jindal, who was elected governor in 2007, is regarded as one of the GOP's rising stars and a policy wonk -- having spent his 20s and early 30s focused on health care.

At 24, Jindal was named head of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals by then-Gov. Mike Foster (R); three years later he was picked as executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. Jindal went on to serve as assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services during the Bush administration before running unsuccessfully for governor in 2003 and successfully for the House in 2004. In 2007, he was elected governor.

Jindal's allies insist that now is the time for him to step back onto the national stage with the legislative session in Louisiana behind him and the health-care debate heating up in Washington.

Political observers less favorably inclined toward Jindal will probably see his emergence as an attempt to reshape the negative national narrative surrounding him in the wake of the poorly received speech delivered in response to President Obama's address to Congress in February.

His emergence is certain to reignite chatter about his presidential prospects in 2012.

The Fix sees such a run as far-fetched. First, Jindal's debut on the national stage was shaky (at best) and even his strongest allies admit he may need more seasoning. Second, it is a logistical impossibility that Jindal can campaign for a second term in Louisiana while cultivating the network of supporters he would need to compete in places such as Iowa and New Hampshire.

Allan Crow, a Democratic media consultant based in Atlanta, put it simply: "The only way [Jindal] can run in 2012 is to have no opposition for governor in 2011 or decide not to run for reelection."

At 38 years old, however, Jindal can wait until the political landscape is just right. He'll be just 44 when the 2016 Iowa caucus rolls around.

Wielding Power

The Republican Party is, in the words of one smart GOP operative, a chorus of voices without a soloist. As such, certain voices rise and others fall.

Those stepping into the front row of the choir of late include Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Voices that have quieted in recent months include those of former vice president Richard B. Cheney, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele.

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