Congratulations, Bobby Jindal, on winning the governorship of Louisiana. Now if only you stood any chance of your constituents liking you, much less you getting anything done as governor. At least that's the highly pessimistic message readers of the October 21 New York Times received courtesy of reporter Adam Nossiter.
It's safe to say Nossiter, reporting from New Orleans, didn't exactly spend his "Louisiana Saturday Night" by dancing "in the kitchen 'til the morning light" over Jindal's victory (emphases mine):
The ascendancy of the Brown- and Oxford-educated Mr. Jindal, an unabashed policy wonk who has produced a stream of multipoint plans, is likely to be regarded as a racial breakthrough of sorts in this once-segregated state. Still, it is one with qualifiers attached.
For one thing, he is by now a familiar figure in Louisiana, having made a strong run for the governorship in 2003, though losing to Ms. Blanco. Before that he had held a series of high-profile administrative jobs, including state health secretary at the age of 24, when he earned a reputation for efficiency — critics said cold-bloodedness — for slashing a bloated budget, cutting jobs and lowering reimbursements to doctors.
For another, he did not have the support of a majority of the state’s blacks, about a third of the population, who vote Democratic.
Yet Mr. Jindal, with his decisive victory on Saturday, appears to have overcome a significant racial hurdle that blocked him in 2003, according to analysts: race-based opposition in the deeply conservative northern and eastern parishes of Louisiana that once supported the Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
You're getting this right? On the one hand, Nossiter portrayed Jindal as lacking the trust of black voters (read black victims of Bush/Republicans post-Katrina), and conservative white voters, who are portrayed as closet racists. Wow, isn't it crazy how he managed to eke out a meager 53 percent of the votes?!
Of course, nowhere in his article does Nossiter mention that the Louisiana Democratic Party cynically attempted to sour enthusiasm for Jindal among conservative Protestant voters by twisting out of context a column by Jindal about his conversion to Roman Catholicism into a slam of Protestant Christians, when in fact it was anything but disrespectful to Christians outside communion with Rome.
The rest of Nossiter's article sought to portray Louisiana as a state with nearly intractable problems, problems outside the scope of solution given Jindal's fiscal conservative prescriptions (emphases mine):
Mr. Jindal campaigned as a cautious reformer, promising a more ethical government, for example, with greater transparency from lobbyists and legislators. His extensive résumé helped him project an image of competence, as did his detailed if conventional policy prescriptions — both evidently appealing to voters here weary of missteps in government since Hurricane Katrina.
But he faces significant challenges. He takes over what is now the nation’s poorest, most uneducated and most unhealthy state, by a number of important measures.
Cleaning up the Capitol in Baton Rouge, which Mr. Jindal has promised to make his first order of business, is unlikely to be regarded as a top priority, as it hardly has been in the past, by a Legislature jealous of its perquisites.
Mr. Jindal has promised to focus resources on the state’s ports, roads and research universities, which have received little state investment. But again, parochial interests and factionalism in a state with strong regional and ethnic divisions often work against these broader initiatives at the Capitol.
And Mr. Jindal, as a fiscal conservative, has had much to say about what he terms “out-of-control spending” but little about a regressive tax structure that relies heavily on sales taxes.
Make no mistake, that closing note about Louisiana's tax code is a not-so-subtle hint that Nossiter disdains Jindal's anti-tax, fiscal conservative policy stances.