The health care debate has brought us a lot of things: industry execs gathered at the White House, town-halls, a national day of service, and a head-on confrontation between President Obama and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)...but not to be overlooked is the return of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).
Today, Jindal penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, the latest in a string of public appearances and speakings out that have brought him back into the national spotlight this week after a long hiatus, during which some concluded that his star in the GOP had fallen.
It's probably no coincidence that the policy-minded Jindal has returned to the stage for what will likely be the most complicated policy debate of Obama's first term. In several national TV appearances this week, Jindal has used his intrinsic wonkiness to espouse small-government philosophy on health care, citing statistics and venturing into the weeds of policy where, in the realm of health reform especially, others fear to tread.
It seems as good a moment as any for Jindal.
Democrats this week have blasted the GOP for practicing political gamesmanship, making a showcase of DeMint and alleging a partisan defeatism by Republicans that's devoid of any constructivity. It's the "party of no" theme, and Democrats have scored their points.
This week saw RNC Chairman Michael Steele get mocked by liberals after an appearance at the National Press Club, in which he came out strongly against Obama's health reform initiative but admitted "I don't do policy." Steele seemed to, by some accounts, (though it's unfair to say for sure) demonstrate an unfamiliarity with the concept of an individual mandate (a requirement that individuals acquire health coverage), which has been a cornerstone of the health debate since the Democratic primary, at least. We also saw Obama personally accuse DeMint of empty political malice, as he responded to DeMint's comment that the GOP could "break" Obama by blocking health care reform, making it the president's "Waterloo." "This isn't about me," Obama declared, insinuating Republican pettiness.
So where was the GOP's wiz-kid of small-government policy, as these accusations of vapid political posturing were being leveled? Coincidentally, Bobby Jindal was undertaking a comeback tour of sourts after months out of the limelight, following his poorly received response to Obama's January address to Congress (which the White House didn't call a "State of the Union"). Before that speech, Jindal was touted as a top prospect for the GOP ticket in 2012--the rising star in the Republican Party; afterward, not as much.
Since then, his national-level appearances had been scant. He made an appearance on "Today" and another on "Good Morning America" as well as a couple other networks. But he had fallen off the national political radar, to an extent. As fellow Republican stars Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Eric Cantor, Rick Perry, and Mark Sanford (pre-scandal) drew attention by talking about national issues, Jindal tended to Louisiana business and forewent national media appearances entirely during the state's legislative session.
Eventually, people stopped talking about his prospects for 2012.
But Jindal returned this week to blast Democrats' health reform plans in an appearance on CNN, two more on Fox News, and in an op-ed for Politico Monday, as well as in today's WSJ piece. According to his office, more TV appearances are likely to follow in the coming days.