Almost 20 years ago I remember reading a news story about former Gov. Mike Foster appointing an untested young guy not long out of Oxford as Louisiana’s health secretary. I wondered who this guy Bobby Jindal was to get such an important gig. Foster gushed with such praise about him that it seemed he had come to save the state.
Now as Jindal prepares to leave the Governor’s Mansion, through his tenure in that job, as head of today’s University of Louisiana System, and as governor, the state still needs saving from lots of things that only will multiply with his successor. But he made progress, and well before I retire from academia scholars will consider him one of the five most consequential governors in the state’s history.
Academicians holding the political beliefs they do, most will pan his policies, but they will be unable to dismiss his impact, one that at its heart abnegates what they typically support programmatically. The similarly-situated mainstream media, when the occasion rises to discuss his legacy, will find themselves in the same boat. Jindal’s tenure, best understood in context, marks the decisive turn that eventually frees the state’s political culture from its populist ethos.