In early September, former Louisiana governor and erstwhile presidential candidate Bobby Jindal stood before the Washington Press Club and tore Donald Trump to shreds. “It’s been a lot of fun, but here’s the problem,” Jindal said. “Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He’s a narcissist. He’s an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself. I want to say what everybody is thinking about Donald Trump, but is afraid to say.” Jindal was daring to go where no other Republican candidate had gone before. He called Donald Trump “unserious,” “unstable,” “insecure,” and “weak.” He doubted Trump had ever even read the Bible, quipping that he couldn’t have read it “because he’s not in it.” He called him an egomaniac, said he was a “substance-free narcissist.”
And even though most saw Jindal’s performance as a stunt, a way to steal the spotlight from the man who had been dominating it for so long, Trump pretended he’d never even met Jindal (which is categorically untrue; Trump and Jindal had met only a few months prior. Trump even donated to his campaign). Jindal, at the time, had been hovering in the single digits, often within the margin of error. He dropped out on Nov. 17, 2015, with securing a single vote. His final statement: “It’s not going to be Trump. It’ll be somebody else.” Only five days ago, in an article on CNN, Jindal repeated his anti-Trump campaign. He writes:
Donald Trump is no conservative. He is not conservative in policy, behavior, nor temperament. While many Republican officials see in this observation the secret to derail his path to the nomination, it may actually be one of the reasons for his success.
Trump has successfully portrayed himself as an outsider, populist, and enemy of the dreaded “GOP Establishment.” But, while doing so, he has repeatedly attacked traditional Republican policies, and paid very little price for it. Reagan Republicanism famously rests on three legs: religious conservatism, national security conservatism, and economic conservatism. On issue after issue, Donald Trump has taken delight in thumbing his nose at Republican orthodoxy.
Today, only a few hours after Ted Cruz dropped out and a few hours before John Kasich ended his campaign, ensuring that Donald Trump will become the nominee of the Republican Party, Jindal appeared on CNN and acknowledged that he would be voting for Trump after all, in a spirit of party unity.
We are supposed to believe that- despite all of the terrible things Jindal had repeatedly said about Trump for several months- Jindal’s about face was noble because it was offered in the spirit of party unity. Jindal should have kept his mouth shut, preserved whatever scrap of intellectual honesty and dignity that he still possesses. But as usual, his desire to be in the public eye outweighed everything else.
Jindal may claim that he is staking out a principled stand in favor of party unity, but only a few short months ago, when Republican David Vitter faced Democrat John Bel Edwards in an election to replace Jindal in the Governor’s Mansion, he did nothing. There were no appeals to the spirit of party unity, no hastily written editorials about why Louisiana needed to keep a Republican on the Fourth Floor of the Capitol. He refused to tell people who he was supporting.
There are two explanations for this: One, Jindal’s numbers were so abysmal, it’s possible an endorsement would have only hurt the already-flailing campaign of Vitter, and two, which I think is more likely, Jindal simply loathes the man. To be fair, I imagine they loathe one another equally.
But this is all worth considering, because in the weeks and months that follow, every time Bobby Jindal claims that his decision to publicly support Trump, albeit begrudgingly, is based on a desire for party unity, the obvious question is, “Why does party unity matter to you now when it didn’t matter at all to you seven months ago?”
I suspect this has nothing to do with “unity;” Jindal may privately loathe Vitter, but he made his dislike of Trump the centerpiece of the waning weeks of his campaign. Instead, as usual, it is yet another cynical attempt by Jindal to hope to remain relevant before the people living in any other state than Louisiana simply forget his name.ut