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The Collective
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
By Dr. Steven Taylor

While I did miss Obama’s speech, I did end up catching, basically by accident, most of Jindal’s response. If anyone was wondering if the man is running for president, wonder no more. (As always, I was struck by the largely superfluous nature of these opposition responses to SOTUs-or whatever one wants to call last night’s speech).

I was struck by a couple of things in the speech. One was this passage, which focused on tax cuts that the Louisiana legislature had passed (text from the LAT, Full text of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Republican response):

Republicans and Democrats put aside their differences, and worked together to make sure our people could keep more of what they earn. If it can be done in Baton Rouge, surely it can be done in Washington, D.C.

One could take that paragraph and substitute “Austin” for “Baton Rouge” and one would have one of the arguments that George W. Bush made in 2000 when he was running for president-indeed, one could no doubt find every governor who ever ran for the nomination and find similar phrases. The problem is, of course, that this kind of reasoning is seriously flawed: partisan and policy dynamics at the state level are quite different from those at the national level. A demonstrated ability to work in a bipartisan fashion on the state level does not translate into the same ability in Washington. Bush, for example, was quite adept at bipartisanship in Texas, but we all know how well that worked out in DC-for reasons that were both his own fault, and for numerous reasons that were not.

Another thing that struck me an a wild incongruity: he spoke quite a bit about recovery from Katrina. But, of course, much of the recovery from Katrina was the result of substantial federal aid to the state of Louisiana. There is something surreal about making a speech (not to mention his recent political posturing) criticizing federal aid in targeting the financial crisis while using one’s own state’s recovery from crisis as a counterexample when, in fact, said recovery was made possible in large part by federal aid. One doesn’t have to be a proponent of the stimulus package to see the problem with that logic.

There was also this tidbit:

To strengthen our economy, we need urgent action to keep energy prices down.

First, energy prices are down, and are likely to stay that way at least until the global economy recovers. Second, haven’t we figured out yet that there are no “urgent actions” that can be initiated to control energy prices? There are a myriad of long term policies that could be implemented, but there are no short-term ways to control energy prices.

I also thought it was interesting that he tried to apologize for Republicans short-comings of late-a process that the GOP is going to have to seriously work on if it wants to regain any of its recently lost political ground.

I did not watch any of the postmortem of the night’s speechifying, but note this morning that apparently Jindal was panned by the Fox panel (the relevant video starts at about 1:40-the first portion is a set of clips from Jindal’s speech:

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12 Responses to “Jindal’s Speech”

  1. Ratoe Says:

    The weirdest thing about his speech was the reference to the sheriff, Katrina rescue, the boats, and the bureaucrats.

    I really had no idea what he was trying to convey with that story. His faux-Andy Griffith retelling of it probably didn’t help him as a vehicle for introduction to the larger American electorate.

  2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I assume that the point was that the bureaucrats in Washington don’t really know what to do and that the locals are better prepared to address problems and/or simply an excuse to make fun of bureaucrats.

  3. Ratoe Says:

    I assume that the point was that the bureaucrats in Washington don’t really know what to do and that the locals are better prepared to address problems

    I guess I found it bizarre because the main problem-in opinion polls at least-with the Katrina response and recovery was because the various governmental bureaucracies failed in their preparation and response.

    When Bush’s opinion polls started to tank after Katrina it was because government DIDN’T act effectively. Not because of government actively stopping anything, as he suggests in his story!

    Jindal’s logic is even more insane since after he talks about the frustration of the Sheriff, his next line is: “There is a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government.”

    In his story he posits the Sheriff-a GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRAT-as the hero.

    Given Jindal’s weak grasp of analysis, I think your comparisons with George W. Bush are even more apt.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Point taken (and not to belabor this), but it seemed that the moral was supposed to be that the local bureaucrats are good and the Washington ones are inept.

  5. Max Lybbert Says:

    [I]t seemed that the moral was supposed to be that the local bureaucrats are good and the Washington ones are inept.

    That’s what I got from the story.

    I didn’t listen to the whole speech or the whole response. I was interested to see Jindal, but apparently it wasn’t his night. Something about his voice or his delivery kept screaming “John Edwards!” to me, but I think I’m the only one.

  6. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    There was some commentary about how he sounded in the Fox News clip above. Likewise, apparently Ed Rollins (former GOP strategist) said (on another network, I am not sure which) some critical things as well.

  7. Mark Says:

    Did you guys see this?

    It seems Matthews was upset that Jindal did not give him a “tingle up his leg” like Obama does.

    MSNBC screws up, reacts to Bobby Jindal by saying, Oh God

  8. Barry Says:

    Dr. Taylor: “There is something surreal about making a speech (not to mention his recent political posturing) criticizing federal aid in targeting the financial crisis while using one’s own state’s recovery from crisis as a counterexample when, in fact, said recovery was made possible in large part by federal aid.”

    Or simply two-faced dishonest.

  9. MSS Says:

    Steven, I think some of your first words in the post well sum up the entire speech (by which I mean the selection of who to deliver it, as well as the words delivered):

    basically by accident.

    (Only one might suggest that this critique lets him and his party off rather too lightly.)

  10. cj Says:

    Jindals speech, I am sorry to say that I am glad I do not live in Lousiana, I would be humilated beyond belief by his speech, and the fact that he would be my governor. If this is the best the republican party can come up with for a possible presidential candidate in four years, this country will be in trouble if he were to be elected. I would not vote for him then or ever. Governor Jindal, your state went through a horrible disaster, and no one has begrudged your state the help that was needed. The anger was at the response your state received under Bush’s time as president, remember he was one one of your party. Come live in my state. I have lived through the eruption of Mt. St. Helenes, and the possiblity of the eruption of Mt. Rainier, which by the way is showing signs of building up to an eruption. I am thankful for the funds to monitor the activity of both of the mountians. Why? Tracking and monitoring these mountains could save thousands of lives if they were to erupt. I didn’t hear you critsize the fact that millions of tax dollars are spent tracking and monitoring hurricane activity, so as to warn those of you that are in the path of a hurricane. Should that money be pulled and that program be dropped also? Ask the people of your state if they would like to see that program dropped because it is spending millions of tax payers dollars to try and make it safe for your people. Come on Jindal, revaluate your speech. I think you owe an apology to alot of people out there.

  11. TBirD Says:

    The think the only thing that would have completed this speech was if Jindal took off his shoes put some slippers on and sat in chair and asked, “Won’t you be my neighbor” or maybe some “Leave it to Beaver” music in the background, I can’t decide:)

  12. Ratoe Says:

    It looks like TPM has uncovered one of the reasons why Jindal’s sheriff story was so weird; it appears he was taking some serious dramatic license: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/02/jindals_katrina_story_a_tall_tale.php

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