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Hey, We All Need to Take a Break from our Responsibilities!

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Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



So what’s with all the criticism about taking a sabbatical?  It’s become a big issue in my home state of Louisiana with educators, legislators, and good government groups debating the value versus the cost of taking a little time off.  A sabbatical let’s a person get away from pressures and responsibilities back home at the job they were hired to do.  Traveling around the country let’s one do research to better focus on the job at hand when the time comes to get back to the real world of responsibility. So let’s quit all the criticizing.  Let Bobby Jindal travel and take his sabbatical in peace.

The cost of sabbaticals for academicians has been an election focus for Jindal, as he crisscrossed the nation during the campaign season in support of Republican candidates.  But Republicans running for office in Louisiana were not able to garner the Governor’s endorsement as he took a “hands off” approach and refused to  endorse  his incumbent U.S, senator as well as a fellow Republican’s bid to be second in command as Lt. Governor.  But be a conservative leaning candidate in just about any other state from coast to coast, and Jindal has been glad to lend a hand in any needed fund raising effort.  Louisiana incumbents who found themselves in political trouble, like New Orleans Congressman Joseph Cao, were left to fend for themselves with no hopes of any help from the popular governor.

When the election season came to an end in early November, many expected Jindal to come home and face his gubernatorial responsibilities.  After all, the state is facing a monumental deficit that now approaches $2 billion for the coming fiscal year.  Education at all levels is on the chopping block with universities facing major cutbacks requiring wholesale layoffs to make up the shortfall.  The state health delivery system is mired in controversy as the medical community raises troubling questions of how indigent healthcare needs will be met and paid for. Time for the Governor to come back home and take control.

But that’s like asking an LSU professor to cut his year abroad short by  coming  home and, God forbid, actually have to go into a class room and teach. You do have to set your priorities in both the business of teaching and government — right?  Look, when one is on sabbatical, problems at home will just have to take care of themselves.  Professors and governors need a little break from the humdrum life of teaching and governing.

Remember the scene in “Animal House when the Delta Tau Chi fraternity is close to being kicked off campus for various shenanigans?  The members turn to John Belushi for advice. What does he propose?  Toga Party!  So we have Louisiana facing major financial and governmental service problems that continue to grow with no rational solution in site.  And what does the Governor propose?  Book Tour!

Jindal is traveling the country, hyping his first book, on the talk show circuit. The book is titled “Leadership and Crisis.”Â  Some cynics in his home state are suggesting that the Louisiana Governor drop the “and” in the title of the book. The focus of Jinadal’s book is to pound the inadequacies of the federal government and in particular, the short comings of the Obama administration. Personal comments by the President to Jindal are all put on the record.

In last week’s column, I listed a number of ambitious potential national office seekers from the South.  In that mix were  Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Texas Governor Rick Perry, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and newly elected Florida Senator Marco Rubio. They each have harsh words for Washington politics, but they have shied away from direct attacks on the President.

As one Barbour aide told me recently, “Haley ain’t no fool.  He’s still getting much more out of Washington than Louisiana is.  You don’t personally bite the hand that’s pouring federal dollars into your state unless you’re an announced candidate against Obama.”

Jindal’s sabbatical will apparently last a while longer as national interview opportunities continue to pour in and book sales increase.  So who’s running the state?  Here’s an idea.  While Jindal continues his sabbatical in the weeks to come, Sarah Palin brings her book signing tour to Baton Rouge next Tuesday.  She bailed out of being Alaska Governor after only a year and a half in office.

But now Palin is rested, ready and full of vigor and venom. Maybe we could borrow her for a few months until Jindal finishes his sabbatical.  Kind of like being a fill-in professor at LSU while the regular professor takes take a much needed   leave with pay. She gets to know Louisiana.  He can go up and sell books in Alaska.  And who knows?  It could be Jindal-Palin, or Palin-Jindal in 2012. Ain’t these sabbaticals grand or what?


Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”
…Ronald Reagan

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the South.  You can read all is past columns and see continuing updates at www.jimbrownla.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownla.com. The show is televised at http://www.justin.tv/jimbrownusa.

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