Why you should care
Because, as Shakespeare once put it, ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.
You weren’t alone at the “kids’ table” in the Sept. 16 GOP presidential debate, Gov. Jindal, but, as usual, your presence there was the most awkward. In politics, as in sports, there’s nothing more piteous than the fallen prodigy — the once promising phenom now shuffling around the minor leagues with a dead arm, hoping for one last shot at the show.
From the days of being hailed as the “GOP’s Obama” and a possible first Indian-American president of the United States, you’re now resorting to taking “Hail Mary” potshots at Donald Trump in hopes of raising your poll numbers above 1 percent — not to mention printing T-shirts with slogans like “Tanned. Rested. Ready.” Whatever possessed you, Governor? Your campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment, but we’ll hazard a guess.
It appears to be a matter of possession by a devil we all know in some form, but who in this case has consumed your soul almost entirely: ambition. And, as if spurred by some Faustian bargain struck deep in the swamps outside your hometown of Baton Rouge, that devil drove you to some remarkable early heights: an Ivy League graduate and Rhodes scholar at age 21, head of Louisiana’s Health and Hospitals department at 25 and of the entire University of Louisiana system at 28, before becoming an assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, a two-term congressman and, at 36, the nation’s first Indian-American governor. “If you cut that boy open from stem to stern,” a seasoned Louisiana lobbyist reportedly once said of you, “won’t nothing bleed out but ambition.”
Being possessed is nothing to trifle with, however, and in some ways, it’s lucky that this devil chose you. Most major presidential candidates have never participated in an exorcism — in fact, you appear to be the only one who has. Many of us have done some crazy things in college we choose to forget, but you, an “evangelist Catholic,” chose to write about that time you and other classmates, without the aid of a priest, exorcised a demon from your suffering friend “Susan.” (Luckily, a trained doctor later exorcised a cancerous lump from her scalp.)
It’s about time to dust off that crucifix and cast out another spirit, Governor. Please make yourself comfortable — we’ll need to secure your arms and legs for your own protection (and to ensure the demon can’t tweet anything about Donald Trump during the rite). We know that somewhere inside you there still exists Piyush Jindal, the 4-year-old who adopted the name of his favorite Brady Bunch character; the proud Indian-American, Reagan Republican teen in penny loafers whose ambition had not yet forced him into cowboy boots and inveighing against “hyphenated Americans.”
Somewhere, though, that cursed devil took the helm. Somewhere, a biology major who aspired to a career in medicine became a relentless politico whose classmates at Oxford had to ask him to drop coins in a jar every time he told someone he was a Rhodes scholar. Somewhere, a fast-talking wunderkind adopted a folksy Southern drawl and started being compared to Kenneth the page instead of the “next Ronald Reagan.” Somewhere, a wonky, technocratic governor watched (often from the campaign trail outside his state) as fiscal disasters in higher education and health care enveloped Louisiana. Now you’re less popular than President Obama in your own deep-red state. (You’ve previously said you were elected to do hard things and that you’re “leaving Louisiana in better shape” than you found it.) As no less an expert in ambition than Niccolò Machiavelli once observed of fates like your own: “He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss.”
And that fall is nigh. Ambition, foul devil, from this creature of God be gone! In the name of the Father, the Son and the Marist Poll, we cast you out of this candidate. The power of Christ, and of electoral democracy, compels you … at least until 2020. Please join us in saying a prayer for the fallen, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.