Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, has been a hit with conservatives. At only 37, he's the youngest governor in the country, not to mention that he is the first minority to govern Louisiana. With these facts in mind, combined with conservatives' hope in this man's political future, it's no surprise that some Republicans refer to him as "the next Barack Obama." However, the similarities between the governor and the president end after the afforementioned facts. For one thing, Jindal is very conservative, opposing gay marriage, stem cell research, and access to abortions. The other difference is that Obama is widely recognized for his ability to deliver powerful speeches. A couple of nights ago, when Jindal delivered a rebuttal to Obama's address, he proved that he's not the speaker that Obama is. (Video of the rebuttal can be found here and a transcript is here.) Let's take a look at the gaffes made by Jindal:
The most obvious problem is Jindal's intonation. Throughout the speech, he sounds as if he doesn't actually feel that strongly about what he's saying. Rather, as a listener, it's hard to forget that there's was a prepared speech for him on the teleprompter. When a better speaker talks, it tends to sound less forced and the speaker's voice changes in tone at various parts. In other words, Jindal should sound happier when he's talking about the greatness of America and sadder when discussing problems in the rescue efforts for Hurrican Katrina.
The second problematic part of the speech is the anecdote Jindal tells about a visit he made to Sheriff Harry Lee, during which Lee was upset to find out over the phone that rescue boats weren't being sent because they had to be checked for insurance and registration. According to Jindal's account, the then congressman reacted by exclaiming, "Sheriff, that's ridiculous," prompting Lee to tell the rescuers to "ignore the bureaucrats and go start rescuing people." Great story. But there's one small problem: It never happened. According to previous accounts Jindal didn't meet with Lee until several days after the boat incident. The two did discuss the problem with sending the boats, but they didn't do anything heroic or urgent. All they did was look at the situation in retrospect. Kind of takes the away the luster of the anecdote, doesn't it?
The next problem is that Jindal made lots of references to Hurricane Katrina. Although I understand that the governor wanted to discuss his moment of greatness, he didn't go about it the correct way. For one thing, it would've been appropriate to mention the event on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, Jindal seemed to relate nearly every point back to Katrina, preventing the focus from being shifted to other issues. This is clearly not a winning strategy, as previously demonstrated by Giuliani and 9/11. But perhaps the worst aspect of the constant references to Katrina was that it is associated with a slow, ineffective response by the Bush administration. In a time when Americans are focused on ending the recession as quickly and effectively as possible, is that really the best image to give people?
Another problem with the rebuttal is that it criticizes the stimulus plan without hinting at a logical alternative. Jindal says that the government shouldn't be interfering with economic affairs on the grounds that anything the government does is inherently bad. (Evidently, anything that increases the role of the government terrifies the Republicans all of a sudden.) One specific complaint Jindal makes is that the stimulus plan includes pork that should be removed. That seems like a valid point... until he gives false descriptions of the targets of the spending. For one thing, Jindal mentions that $8 billion are set to be spent on a magnetic train from Las Vegas to Disneyland. In reality, the bill includes funding for railroad building, but there's nothing specifying that any particular route, such as one from Disneyland, will be constructed. The other example of pork provided by Jindal is $140 million for volcano monitoring. This spending is accounted for in the stimulus bill, but it's not pork. It's actually designed to monitor Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in Washington. You'd think that a man who mentions Katrina so much would care about natural disasters. In the words of Jon Stewart, "Who cares about lava? That's like a levee overtopping - it'll never happen." Based on what's actually included in the stimulus, I am tempted to say that this isn't pork, but an economics fail by Jindal.
So what is Jindal's economic plan? This is it:
"To solve our current problems, Washington must lead. But the way to lead is not to raise taxes and not to just put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians. The way to lead is by empowering you, the American people. Because we believe that Americans can do anything."This plan has two major flaws:
1. Jindal spends a lot of time criticizing government intervention and all of a sudden he expects the government to take the lead. It's hard to lead by doing nothing.
2. Jindal says he wants to empower the American people, but last time I checked, the people used their consitutionally guaranteed powers to vote for Obama and a Democrat-dominated congress. Empowering the people could best be accomplished by allowing those leaders elected by the people, for the people to take action.
So what else does Jindal have to say about the economy?
"Democratic leaders say their legislation will grow the economy. What it will do is grow the government, increase our taxes down the line, and saddle future generations with debt. Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did. It's irresponsible. And it's no way to strengthen our economy, create jobs, or build a prosperous future for our children."After saying this, Jindal suggests that government cut taxes, something he says he has done for his state six times. Great plan: reduce the debt by cutting taxes. Nothing increases government revenue like reducing the amount of the money the government can collect. There's no flaw in logic there.
Later Jindal says, "We stand for universal access to affordable health care coverage. What we oppose is universal government-run health care." If the government is going to runing this health care system, who else will there be do it? You couldn't let a corporation do it because they'd have too much power and it would have a monopoly. The only other possible system would be to have lots of smaller companies control the insurance, but that would be closer to our current system than universal health care. In other words, there is no type of system that could possibly exist that meets Jindal's criteria for health care.
Toward the end of his rebuttal, Jindal talked about his politcal party:
"Tonight, on behalf of our leaders in Congress and my fellow Republican governors, I say this: Our party is determined to regain your trust. We will do so by standing up for the principles that we share, the principles you elected us to fight for, the principles that built this into the greatest, most prosperous country on earth."That's a noble thought, but actions speak louder than words. Republicans had an opportunity to prove themselves and they failed to do so. I know I'm a bit of a skeptic when it comes to trusting politicians, but you can't screw up for eight years and then expect people to believe you've changed dramatically in five weeks.
And to finish, I'd like to use the phrase that Jindal repeats throughout his speech: "Americans can do anything." Actually, on second thought, I could probably use a shorter phrase that means the exact same thing: "Yes we can."
-Remember how Rush Limbaugh said he hopes Obama's policies fail? Well, other conservatives, including Tom Delay, and Rick Santorum also hope that the country suffers for the next four years. How patriotic.
-In Ireland, police ticketed Prawo Jazdy 50 different times. Each time the driver was stopped, he was listed under a different address. Needless to say the Irish police were baffled. Recently, the reason for this phenomenon was revealed. As it turns out, the police had stopped 50 different Polish drivers whose licenses read "Prawo Jazdy" at the top. So what does this phrase mean? It's Polish for "driver's license."
Newly added quick hit:
-Michelle Bachmann spoke at CPAC and, as expected, said something that left me speechless. In reference to the government spending money via the economic stimulus, she said, “I just wondered that if our founders thought taxation without representation was bad, what would they think of representation with taxation?” I've just lost a lot of faith in humanity.