Jindel? Really?

Ken AshfordObama OppositionLeave a Comment

I was going to make fun of Bobby Jindel's response to the Obama address, but everyone else beat me to it.  Ezra Klein was spot-on when he suggested that Jindel had the oratorical stylings and naive optimism of Kenneth, from 30 Rock.

What was most striking about Jindel's response was using Katrina to stand as the example that government help is bad, but the will of the American people is good.  As if Americans had forgotten who was President during Katrina.

Look, if Katrina served as a lesson, it is this: Do not put government in the hands of people who think government is incapable of doing good and helping the citizenry.  Because inevitably, they'll muck it up so that they can say "See?  Government can't solve problems."

Cognitive dissonence also never striked Jindel when he flag-waived about America's illustrious past — how we overcame slavery, segregation, etc.  Of course, it was government that brought about these changes (despite the often forceful protestations of conservatives).

But I think satirist Jon Swift said it best:

But what really inspired me was the story he told about how people in leaky little boats tried to save the citizens of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina even though government bureaucrats tried to stop them. If the government had stayed out of New Orleans entirely and encouraged more people to use their boats or to make their own boats out of things around the house, more people would probably be alive today. And instead of waiting for inefficient government workers to fix the levies, ordinary New Orleans citizens could have patched them up using bubble gum and duct tape and good old American know-how.

Instead of relying on the government to build magical magnetic levitation trains, the people of Las Vegas should be encouraged to bring some tools from their garages and build the train themselves, the way the Amish do. And while it's true that the magical levitation part might prove to be technologically difficult for the average Las Vegas citizen, if they all put their minds together and pray, I bet they would be able to levitate the trains. The power of prayer worked for Gov. Jindal when he and a few friends exorcised some demons and cured a woman of cancer back when he was in college so it could probably work for trains, too. And praying may also be the answer to our health care crisis.

Swift went after the GOP cure-all to every problem — tax cuts — which Jindel predictably championed, while ignoring the fact that Obama's stimululs bill just created the largest tax cut in history:

Finally, the best part of Gov. Jindal's speech was when he talked about tax cuts. Cutting taxes for 95% of Americans as Pres. Obama promises is extremely unfair to the 5% of Americans who work hard, too, but already pay a lot more taxes than everyone else does despite all of their efforts to shield their assets in offshore accounts. Somebody needs to represent the 5% minority of people who are discriminated against by Obama's tax plan. Gov. Jindal and the new Republican leader Michael Steele understand what it's like to be minorities so it is no surprise that they are willing to stand up for the minority of people who make more than $250,000 a year like bank executives who are often the victims of bigotry in the liberal media. Most Americans want our millionaires to do well because someday we may win the lottery or appear on a quiz show and become millionaires ourselves.

When all is said and done, Jindel's performance was a disappointment, even to the folks at Fox.  It was a littany of the same GOP mantras of the past 8 years: a lot of pro-America cheerleading, lacking substance but for the tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts.

Other Jindel reactions:

  • TPM's Josh Marshall: "I thought Jindal's comments and presentation was just weird and cringy and awful."
  • Think ProgressMatthew Yglesias: "Bobby Jindal apparently believes it's appropriate to address the citizens of the United States in a tone that suggests we're all nine years old."
  • Firedoglake's Eli: "Why does he sound like he's narrating a children's movie?"
  • Silver: "If it sounds like Jindal is targeting his speech to a room full of fourth graders, that's because he is. They might be the next people to actually vote for Republicans again."
  • Beeton: "Is it just me, or does Bobby Jindal sound an awful lot like Kenneth from 30 Rock?"
  • Sudbay: "[Jindal] was awful. Unimpressive and uninspiring. […] Let's admit it: Sarah Palin has nothing to worry about from Jindal."
  • TAPPED's Dana Goldstein: "[Jindal's] basic message was that government causes problems, and can't fix them. The thing is, during this time of economic uncertainty, Americans are looking toward government for help and reassurance, not for a cold shoulder."
  • The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen: "[A]s bad as Jindal's performance was, his ideas were even worse — tax cuts, drilling, school vouchers, spending bad, government bad. Why bother picking a fresh face if all the party has to offer is stale ideas? Why ask a young governor with a reputation for innovation to present the same old agenda that the GOP has pitched for a generation?"
  • Ezra Klein: "[This is] a speech that [House Min. Leader John] Boehner could have given in 2007 and that [ex-Senate Maj. Leader Bill] Frist could have given in 2005 and that [ex-Senate Maj. Leader Trent] Lott could have given in 1998 and that [ex-House Speaker Newt] Gingrich could have given in 1993. Jindal made a mistake accepting the GOP's invitation to give this response. Yesterday, he seemed like a different kind of Republican. Today, he doesn't."
  • Sudbay: "[U]sing Katrina as an example to tout the GOP? That was sheer brilliance."
  • digby: "[M]y God, I'm gobsmacked by the fact that he actually raised Katrina in the way he did, suggesting that they didn't need government help. I just don't know what to say about that."
  • AMERICAblog's John Aravosis: "Let's think for a moment. Who was it who abandoned New Orleans again? Uh, that would be the Republican president who ignored Katrina, the Republican presidential candidate who ate an oversized birthday cake in California while citizens of New Orleans drowned, and the Republican Congress who refused to investigate what went wrong. Your point would be what exactly, Mr. Jindal? That voters shouldn't trust Republicans to protect them in time of need?"
  • Klein: "It's as if [GOPers] don't think Americans are smart enough to remember who was running the government in 2005."

UPDATE:  A geology website has something to say about Jindel's claim that volcano monitoring is "wasteful spending":

I have two questions.

1. Do Republicans (or moderates who don't have a kneejerk anti-Republican reflex) also feel like he's talking to the nation as though we were all kindergarteners? I was flabbergasted, but I don't know how to properly account for my rather strong political biases here. 


Ignoring for the sake of argument the value of the basic science that always results from the data collected during routine monitoring – ignoring the general function of increased spending as an economic stimulus to the nation's earth scientists, instrument manufacturers, etc., – even ignoring all that, volcano monitoring is still a very sensible investment in national security. A $1.5 million investment in monitoring at Pinatubo (near a U.S. air force base) earned a greater than 300-fold return when the volcano erupted explosively in 1991: hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property (mostly airplanes) was saved, as were thousands of lives. That 30,000% figure comes before you attempt to put a value on human life.
In other words: If the USGS didn't monitor volcanoes, the Defense Department would have to. And we all know that would cost eleventy-squillion times more than the current shoestring budget.