The burning paradox that is Gov. Bobby Jindal comes down to this: for someone who so obviously loves and embraces the private sector, it’s curious that he has never earned his livelihood in it.
Yes, we know that he “worked” for four whole months for McKinsey & Co. in 1994 but that could hardly be considered as the private sector since the firm primarily serves as a training ground for future bureaucrats and elected public servants.
To paraphrase a 1981 line from actor Burt Reynolds at his Friars Club roast, he’d probably like to thank the little people for putting him into office—but he’d never associate with them.
Of course, should he ever decide to re-enter the private sector and if Jim Parsons should decide to leave the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Jindal could step right into the role of Dr. Sheldon Cooper and never miss a beat.
Sheldon Cooper, in case you are not a regular viewer (you can catch the show on CBS at 7 p.m. Thursdays or reruns on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on TBS), is the glue that holds the popular show together. He is academically brilliant (as most would concede Jindal to be) but completely unable to relate to mere mortals (as all would have to agree is a persona that fits Jindal like a glove).
Sheldon is a fount of book knowledge, possessed of an eidetic memory and able to spout figures, dates and statistics with the comparative ease of reciting one’s ABCs but is unable—or unwilling—to perform the simple task of driving a car.
Jindal is a fount of book knowledge, possessed of an eidetic memory and able to spout figures, dates and statistics with the comparative ease….well you get the picture.
Sheldon is completely and totally devoid of human emotion, is unfeeling and unable to communicate in a normal conversation because he has no empathy for his fellow human being. Even in casual conversation, it is impossible for him to avoid insulting the intelligence of those around him, be they peers or subordinates.
Jindal is similarly lacking in those same qualities and likewise cannot speak without offending—be it civil service employees, department heads or fellow Republicans whom he now publicly refers to as being stupid.
Sheldon, when playing board games or video games with his friends, is prone to make up his own rules as he goes along—much to the consternation of Leonard, Raj and Howard, his three friends on the show.
Jindal also is not above tweaking the rules to his advantage as in his exempting the governor’s office from the state’s public records laws—much to the consternation of the media.
But most striking of all the similarities between the two: Sheldon is stubborn and steadfastly refuses to admit to the prospect that he could ever be wrong—about anything.
Jindal, too, is mulishly stubborn and just as steadfastly refuses to entertain the thought that he might be wrong about anything—a trait that goes at least as far back as middle school, according to a former teacher who described him as unwilling to accept correction even then.
But back to Jindal’s undying devotion to the private sector:
His is a strange relationship indeed.
Visit the home a professor, and you’re likely to find shelves upon shelves of books. Visit a hunter and you will find hunting rifles and mounted deer, elk and moose heads. Same with fishermen and the mounted bass that adorn their den walls.
Visit an aficionado of the private sector like, say, the governor of Louisiana and you’re likely to find…photos of smiling campaign contributors.
But you would never find him putting in a typical 8 to 5 day in a cubicle or toiling away in the workaday world like the rest of us. That is so far beneath him as to be comical to even consider.
No, he would never stoop to such a low level. That is for people who can be manipulated, used and even fired at will—by people like him.
Instead, Jindal chooses to reciprocate the private sector’s political campaign contribution largesse by selling off the state, piece by piece, agency by agency to his corporate benefactors while at the same time, selling out hard-working, dedicated state workers without so much as a second thought or a thank you.
The private sector is Jindal’s benefactor, not his employer. Accordingly, he must pander to the corporate suits like Rupert Murdoch, K12, Dell Computers, Marathon Oil, Wireless Generation, Altria, Hospital Corp. of America, Magellan Health Services, Meridian, CNSI, Information Management Consultants, Innovative Emergency Management, Anheuser-Busch, Corrections Corp. of America, AT&T, Koch Industries, the entire membership of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and most of his appointees to prestigious boards and commissions.
No, Bobby Jindal would never earn—has never earned—his living from the private sector.
But make no mistake about it: he owes his political existence to corporate America and the private sector.
And he believes with equal conviction that he owes nothing to state employees or the public sector.
Yes, he could step right in and fill Jim Parsons’ role as Sheldon and the difference would be negligible—except for the obvious cultural imbalance that would create.