If Bobby Jindal Can Support Trump, Any Republican Can

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Republican Candidates Speak At Sunshine Summit In Orlando
Trump's former rival shows there's really no limit on what can be said about the mogul before and even while endorsing him.Photo: Joe Raedle/2015 Getty Images

You’d sort of figure that of all the Republican pols who will eventually crawl their way back into the GOP tent after saying (publicly or privately) nasty things about Donald Trump, former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal would have been last and least conspicuous — you know, maybe signaling an intention to vote for the mogul in a fine-print ad (like a legal notice) published the day before the general election.

But no: The rival who called Trump an “egomaniacal madman,” among other choice epithets, came out for the Donald in The Wall Street Journal about six weeks before the Republican National Convention, and close to a half-year before the general election.

To be sure, Jindal not only acknowledged but repeated some of his abuse. 

I was one of the earliest and loudest critics of Mr. Trump. I mocked his appearance, demeanor, ideology and ego in the strongest language I have ever used to publicly criticize anyone in politics. I worked harder than most, with little apparent effect, to stop his ascendancy. I have not experienced a sudden epiphany and am not here to detail an evolution in my perspective.

No, it’s all about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are in Jindal’s eyes more loathsome and dangerous than a pol he’s described as psychopathic, unprincipled, and “unserious.” Clinton will, says the grotesquely unsuccessful Louisiana governor, continue Obama’s “radical” policies without the “triangulation” that made Bill Clinton tolerable to conservatives. 

It’s significant that the first data point Jindal deploys is the impact of the general election on the Supreme Court:

In my lifetime, no Democrat in the White House has ever appointed a Supreme Court justice who surprised the nation by becoming more conservative, while the opposite certainly cannot be said for Republican appointments. Mr. Trump might not support a constitutionalist conservative focused on original intent and limits on the court’s powers. He may be more likely to appoint Judge Judy. However, there is only a chance that a President Trump would nominate a bad justice, while Mrs. Clinton certainly would.

This is a nicely executed double-backflip: Republican presidents are constantly putting godless liberals like John Roberts on the Court; could Trump be a much greater risk? And even Judge Judy would be better than the baby-killing, Christian-hating, tyrant-enablers Hillary Clinton would nominate. 

What Jindal’s really doing here is something we are going to see from a lot of Republicans in the very near future: an engraved invitation to Trump to reassure them with some sort of iron-clad public commitment to appoint justices that not only would blow themselves up before allowing Roe v. Wade to stand or Citizens United to fall, but who might bring the whole hog of “constitutionalist conservatism” to the Court, turning back the clock to the 1930s. For people like Jindal, a right-wing Supreme Court would covereth a multitude of Trumpite sins. 

You might wonder who on Earth really cares what Bobby Jindal thinks about the general election. But by making his “lesser of evils” argument so absolute, and making it so early, he’s helped create a lot of safe space for other Republicans who haven’t called Trump a madman to cross the boundary into the Trump camp at their convenience, preferably on a slow news day.