Monday, June 08, 2015

Louisiana under the Norquist/Duggar Administration

Lamar has a killer article in Salon this morning. In part, it is a Get-To-Know Bobby Jindal story for a national audience just now getting to not know or care about him.

Despite his dismal poll numbers, Jindal still has a (slim.. very unlikely) chance to connect with GOP primary voters... especially in Iowa and especially among evangelicals. To this point in his not-yet campaign, he's done everything he needs to do to make that happen. This doesn't mean that he will gain traction, of course.. only that he is taking the correct steps for a candidate in his position.  Some of us have talked about this before in several spots.

In the Salon article, Lamar concurs with this analysis citing Jindal's prolific work as an opinion columnist as an example of his yeomanlike campaign style.  He also throws in this bit.
Over the last three years, Bobby Jindal has published more opinion columns in national publications than any other politician in the country, most recently a crude and meandering explanation in The New York Times about his opposition to marriage equality. When Time magazine asked one of Jindal’s chief political strategists, Curt Anderson, about the governor’s prolific output, he made a frank on-the-record admission: Bobby Jindal didn’t actually write many of the national columns published under his name; he just signed off on them.
He's kind of the James Patterson of the political op-ed.

After that it gets more interesting as Lamar profiles longtime Jindal braintruster Timmy Teepell.  Teepell's deep affiliation with the national homeschooling movement has been widely known for some time though, curiously, it is rarely talked about as a factor in Jindal's political strategy or his policy formulation.  Lamar might be the first to put it front and center in any high-profile medial account.
Last November, Jindal was a guest on Farris’s “Home School Heartbeat” podcast, which is notable both because the show is obscure to anyone unfamiliar with homeschool advocacy and because Jindal granted Michael Farris more time than he has to any single Louisiana journalist or reporter in the last four years. “I’ve been very, very blessed and fortunate to see homeschoolers come volunteer in my campaigns, as well as other campaigns, and they’re a tremendous asset and they do a phenomenal job,” Jindal tells Farris. When asked about his specific connection to the homeschool movement, Jindal gushes:
One of the first formative experiences for me—one of my closest friends, he’s served in a number of capacities for me, both as chief of staff, as a campaign manager, but more importantly, just a close friend—has been Timmy Teepell. So as Timmy got more involved with my campaigns and my different administrations, whether it was in Congress or here at the state level, I got to know him well. His younger brother Taylor has also worked for me and with me; we’ve spent quite a bit of time. And through his family, as well as through Sarah’s family, we’ve come to meet and know a lot of homeschool children. Many of them have volunteered on our campaigns. Many of them come to work in our administration.
We’ve got several that work at many different levels. We’ve had homeschooled children come and work in our communications shop, in our policy shop, in all different offices here in state government as well as when I was in DC.
It then becomes clear why Timmy Teepell has become so important to Bobby Jindal: Jindal believes Teepell delivers the homeschool movement’s voters, financial support, public relations apparatus, campaign volunteers, and staffers — a tremendous marshaling of human resources, one that has provided the backbone of his political success to date and one that, thus far, has remained completely under the radar.
Most of the press on Jindal, both local and national, treats his aggressive rightward push on religious and social issues as a gawk-worthy pandering freakshow.  Certainly, it is all of that. But it is also a key strategic component of Jindal's electoral success in Louisiana as well as the basis of his signature policy initiatives.

Education policy, especially, bears Teepell's fingerprints as state laws have been written and public funds diverted toward the promotion of anti-science and the dismantling of public schools as we knew them.  Jindal, more than likely, will highlight education reform in his campaign kickoff speech in New Orleans this month. (I've already speculated that he'll speak to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference in town that week but the way things are going he may have to move to an undisclosed location.)

Still, most of the serious criticisms of Jindal shift away from social issues and focus instead on how his strict "no-tax" position has wrecked the state budget. The "Governor Grover Norquist" theory has gotten so far, in fact, that the Legislature is almost taking the notion literally this week.
Eleven legislators are seeking answers about Gov. Bobby Jindal's "no tax" pledge directly from the man who issued it -- Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington D.C.

State Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, and 10 other Louisiana House members sent Norquist a letter Sunday night, asking Norquist to rethink his approach to Louisiana's budget and the "no tax" pledge.

Lawmakers are struggling with Norquist's restrictions as they enter the final four days of 2015 budget negotiations. They have to send the spending plan to Jindal's desk by Thursday evening.
If we're going with this Norquist Administration premise, Lamar's article suggests to us that it is just as plausible to conceive of a (sort of) Duggar Administration.
Like Timmy Teepell, Nicholas Ducote was also homeschooled as a kid in Louisiana. “I was raised in a religious cult,” Ducote tells me.

His parents were members of the Advanced Training Institute, an evangelical organization led by Bill Gothard. Last year, 34 women accused Gothard of sexual harassment and four others claimed that he had sexually abused them when they were teenagers. Gothard was forced to resign, publicly acknowledging that his actions “crossed the lines of discretion and were wrong.” Gothard reemerged in the spotlight last month after the revelation that Josh Duggar, a director of the Family Research Council and one of the stars of the hit reality show “19 and Counting,” had sexually molested at least five different girls, including his own sisters.

The Duggar family are also members of the Advanced Training Institute and use Gothard’s curricula to homeschool all of their children.

“As a part of the larger Christian homeschooling movement in Louisiana, we were being trained to become culture warriors,” Ducote says. “I didn’t get a ‘real’ high school education. I spent most of my time prepping for debate tournaments.”
Actually for perfect symmetry with the Norquist bit, we'd be better to call it the Michael Farris Administration (Lamar quotes Ducote, “If you want to know what Bobby Jindal’s next move is, then all you need to do is take a page from Timmy and follow Michael Farris on Facebook,”)  but let's see if we can make Duggar stick for now. It's just more fun that way. 

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