Bobby Jindal: Israel’s Safer if “John Kerry Spends More Time in Nantucket Riding a Girl’s Bike”

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 8 2014 9:18 PM

Bobby Jindal: Israel’s Safer if “John Kerry Spends More Time in Nantucket Riding a Girl’s Bike”

KNOXVILLE, Iowa—Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal flew into the first presidential caucus state for two days of meeting and campaign stops. When I followed him around Knoxville, as he joined the GOP's candidate for Congress for a tour of the sprint car museum, and a meet-and-greet at a supporter's home, what surprised me was how many people had already met the guy. My ignorance was showing, as Jindal has been a surrogate for years—for Gov. Terry Brandstad during his 2010 comeback bid, for Rick Perry during his pre-comeback 2012 implosion. (The comeback is scheduled for next year.)

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After the meet-and-greet, Jindal took a few questions, most of them about raw politics in the state and about when he might decide to run for president. I'd been thinking about how nine years earlier, as a congressman, Jindal had encouraged fellow Republicans to dip their thumbs in blue ink, in solidarity with Iraqi voters, so I asked Jindal if he supported airstrikes on ISIS and if he wanted the administration to make further committments.

"I do think that the airstrikes are appropriate," Jindal said. "However, what I think is missing here, is we haven't heard from the president a coherent, strategic perspective on what is his plan to go after ISIS."

Jindal issued forth a series of general foreign policy prescriptions and zingers. He didn't specify what else the Obama administration might need to do in Iraq. He did say "I'd like to hear him clearly articulate his belief in American exceptionalism," that the president was not doing enough to back up Israel, and that "you know that Putin wouldn't be in Crimea" had the president not waffled on Syria. (At the time, Jindal had criticized the administration for not making a convincing case to intervene in Syria.)

Seriously, Jindal was rolling. "I know that folks have been sort of teasing John Kerry about being in Nantucket and riding sort of a girl's bike," said Jindal. "Maybe Israel's safer if he spends more time in Nantucket, windsurfing or riding a girl's bike or whatever it is in Nantucket."

The crowd at the meet-and-greet basically agreed with Jindal (the Kerry line was a hit), though there was more focus on how America was back bombing Iraq, after washing her hands of the country. Steve Everly, a 63-year-old owner of an electrical business, noted with some bitterness that his son had fought in Iraq and would have "back pain for the rest of his life." What if it had been for nothing?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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