DYCHE | Bobby Jindal: Spiritual Revival and War of Ideas
News: John David Dyche Opinion Graphic
By John David Dyche WDRB Contributor
At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, President Obama talked about Islamic extremism, although he did not call it by that name. Obama spoke of a moral equivalence between ISIS – which he condemned for beheading, burning, and burying people alive in the Middle East today – and Christians past.
"Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place," Obama lectured, "remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."
One of the best responses to Obama came from the second-term governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. "The medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President," Jindal said. "Please deal with the radical Islamic threat today."
This comment came on the heels of a hard-hitting speech Jindal gave in London last month. There, he said, "Muslim leaders must make clear that anyone who commits acts of terror in the name of Islam is in fact not practicing Islam at all. If they refuse to say this, then they are condoning these acts of barbarism. There is no middle ground."
His other comments in England, including references to "no go" zones in Muslim areas of some big European cities and the dangers posed by "non-assimilationist Muslims," left some liberals apoplectic. So did his recent assertion at a prayer rally at the LSU basketball arena that, "We need a spiritual revival to fix our country."
"We have tried everything and now it is time to turn back to God," Jindal says. But he leavens his religious message with a large dose of policy wonkiness.
Most Americans have probably never heard of Jindal. A probable yet improbable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination next year, he is 43, the brainy son of Indian Hindu immigrants, and a converted Catholic. He worries about the American soul, but is also waging a conservative battle to win what he calls "the war of ideas."
"We've said what we are against," Jindal argues. "But shame on us if we don't put pen to paper and begin selling the American public on a new policy direction for this country."
Through a group he formed called America Next, the Ivy League educated former Rhodes Scholar and congressman puts his bright and fertile mind where his mouth his. He has issued a series of position papers offering "a vision of what conservative policies can accomplish when put into practice."
Few, if any, other presidential aspirants in either party have been so specific. But Jindal believes that winning the competition of ideas is a necessary predicate to winning the next election and ushering in "a new era of growth, of freedom, and of unprecedented success and greatness."
On national defense, Jindal criticizes the funding cuts from the so-called sequester and says Obama has "repudiated the operating principles of the post-war strategy that kept America safe by allowing our alliances and power to atrophy and disengaging from a global leadership role." He proposes a budgeting guideline of approximately 4 percent of gross domestic product, up from current post-World War II lows.
On energy, Jindal would aggressively promote all forms of domestic production, from nuclear to renewables, and rein in the Environmental Protection Agency. He is open to "scientific answers to many climate change questions," and would pursue policies that would "reduce carbon dioxide emissions without punishing the American economy."
On healthcare, Jindal recently warned Republican congressional leadership against any "Obamacare Lite" alternatives to the Affordable Care Act. He advocates repealing that law in its entirety and replacing it with a focus on cost containment.
The elements of Jindal's replacement plan include tax equity, more flexibility for states, health savings accounts, more wellness incentives, increased anti-fraud measures, and price and quality transparency. He promises guaranteed access for pre-existing conditions, premium support for Medicare, Medicaid reform, portability, choice, and lawsuit reform.
Jindal's latest initiative is for an overhaul of the American education system. He says "archaic obstacles" like teacher tenure, "union dominated compensation and pension systems," and the Washington bureaucracy created during the Great Society stand in the way of real reform.
He proposes more parental choice, "allowing education dollars to follow the child," a return to local control, and teacher tenure and training reform. Jindal has sued the federal government over the Common Core academic standards (which he once supported) and Louisiana's private school voucher program.
In Iowa recently, Jindal said, "We should be a party that's proud of our conservative principles. Our country doesn't need two liberal parties. … If all we do is pretend to be cheaper Democrats, we'll never earn the right to be in the majority. Let's stand up for what we believe."
Just as Jindal thinks Republicans must clearly distinguish themselves from Democrats, he realizes that he must distinguish himself from his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination. His bold blend of calling for a spiritual revival while fighting a war of ideas is an interesting avenue for doing so.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.