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10.11.08

Tough times may give Jindal chance to stand out

No doubt governors would prefer to be in the shoes of Alaska’s Sarah Palin, with a budgetary state surplus especially in these times where a slowing economy that, if they do what they say, will be slowed even further by Democrat control of the federal majoritarian branches which in turn will reduce federal largesse to states. Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal does not have this luxury – which may turn out to elevate his chances for higher political office.

The long-warned bubble economy infused with recovery dollars is coming to an end in Louisiana which will test Jindal’s governing ability. Already its looming has forced Jindal into tough decisions, the highest profile of which was his hesitancy to embrace this year’s income tax cut which will only start to come to fruition next year. Many more appear to be on the way.

But if he can get the Legislature to handle it with a minimum of pain to the state, he sets himself up as a devastatingly strong candidate for the presidential ticket in 2012 as the worst nightmare for a White House incumbent of Barack Obama. If Obama and Congressional Democrat leaders do what they promised they will do, the country will be in its worst economic shape since the 1970s with a daunting “misery index” and deficits as a percentage of gross domestic product the highest since World War II. Guiding Louisiana to a better economic picture will stand in stark contrast to that.

This is where Jindal would have the edge on today’s leading Republican for the 2012 national ticket, Palin, who has show she can govern in good times for her state but not yet the bad ones. Further, to some degree the Democrats aided by the media (who treated the first female vice presidential candidate from a major party Geraldine Ferraro with skepticism, but added outright hostility to coverage of Palin) demonized Palin aided by a narrow time frame which may have created enough of a negative lasting first impression to voters that also could give Jindal the edge.

Of course, Jindal must succeed, which means producing a balanced budget that also shifts priorities to areas that appear both necessary and popular despite an environment of increasing costs in some areas and decreasing revenues. But if he does, the fear he has struck into Democrats ever since he began his political career will become their painful reality.

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