Bobby Jindal and the Trouble With Louisiana

Nicholas Lemann
The New Yorker

Maybe anywhere, but certainly in slow-moving Louisiana, Bobby Jindal is an unusual politician. He was a Rhodes Scholar, a McKinsey consultant, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the president of the University of Louisiana System, and an official in the George W. Bush Administration—all before the age of thirty. Jindal then began running for office, aiming high from the very beginning. He ran for governor and finished a creditable second, served two terms in Congress, and then ran for governor again, and won, in 2007, at the age of thirty-six.

Jindal had a real honeymoon during his first year in office. He seemed to represent pure technocratic competence, a nearly unknown trait in the history of governance in Louisiana. He improved the state’s finances, its health system, and its hurricane preparation. In retrospect, the peak of his career may have been in early 2009, when he was selected to give the official Republican response to Barack Obama’s first State of the Union Address.

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