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Story Archives: Jindal response gets lackluster reviews
|Jindal response gets lackluster reviews|
On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama presented his case for saving America from going to Economic Hell by expanding the federal government and nationalizing every bank, large company and lemonade stand within these 50 states.
Obama's homily before both Houses of Congress resembled a hybrid of a State of the Union Address and a creepier campaign speech where hope and change have been replaced with sacrifice and forfeit. This was a speech where, if not for Bill Clinton's admonishments to Obama last week to lighten up, phrases like "a better tomorrow" would have succumbed to "a catastrophe that we may never recover from."
Still, Obama's message was clear: unless we all do things he and the Democrats in Congress want (i.e., more spending and less tax cuts) the times ahead will be worse. The trouble for Republicans is that the American people overwhelmingly support Obama and feel that eight years of Bush was in large part what got us here in the first place.
On the brighter side, Obama said his administration has already identified $2 trillion in government spending cuts that can be made over the next decade. Just to make sure you are paying attention, this reflects $200 billion in "cuts" each year. Not to trivialize his accounting magic that would astound even David Blaine, but that is nothing when juxtaposed with the $1 trillion in new spending we saddled generations of Americans with.
Following 50 minutes of recycled campaign rhetoric with an additional layer of vague promises read from a teleprompter and the sickeningly choreographed applause from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Joe Biden, Louisiana's Governor Bobby Jindal delivered the Republican response. Why Jindal would agree to do this is beyond my comprehension. The reviews of Jindal's undertaking ranged from "so-so" to "amateurish" and "terrible." Juan Williams of Fox News said that Jindal's stories seemed "childish."
Such responses by the party in opposition are always lack-luster and quite often are dreary performances as there can be no applause (because there is no audience) to buttress weak outings. This one featured Jindal speaking slower than I have ever heard him, in a tone that was too frequently monotonous that included peculiarly forced stories about Hurricane Katrina, Sheriff Harry Lee and his family background.
Rarely, did he actually address the President's agenda with anything more meaningful than banalities and inane commentary. Clearly, this was not Jindal's best.
To be fair, I thought that Jindal's finest crack was "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." That is the stuff that people can relate to and remember. He needed more of that and a lot less of the folksy, off-tempo stories that left many conservatives scratching their heads in wonder at the future of their party.
And for those salivating to pronounce that Republicans have indeed found a new ensemble of leaders with Sarah Palin, Michael Steele (the new President of the Republican National Committee) and Bobby Jindal … this would be hyperbole of an enormous magnitude at this instant.
But let me remind you of an even worse speech seen by many more millions by a young southern Governor before the 1988 Democratic National Convention — Bill Clinton. He learned and adapted and never repeated that nightmare performance again (at least when it came to speeches). Jindal had better learn from his mistakes and step his game up if he really wants to run for president in 2012.
Jindal added and interesting point: "You elected Republicans to champion limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility. Instead, Republicans went along with earmarks and big government spending in Washington. Republicans lost your trust — and rightly so." If he was talking about supporting (or at least initially not preventing) pay raises for the legislature, increased government payrolls, an expanded budget deficit and fighting the repeal of the Stelly Tax every step of the way, then how have his actions engendered more trust in the Republican Party? As a point of reference: having the "Gold Standard" of ethics reform does not create jobs or eliminate poverty.
Jindal, to his credit, was the first governor in the nation to turn his nose up at a portion of the Obama stimulus dollars. He said the state will not accept almost $100 million in funds that would expand unemployment benefits for thousands of people because this would force Louisiana to change its labor laws and pass additional taxes in the near future. This is probably the right move.
Despite many style and content blunders, Jindal's sound bite of "Americans can do anything. When we pull together, there is no challenge we cannot overcome," was better oratory than most of his speech.
But, it still lacks clarity and principle, which is where the Republicans find themselves as a party right now.
Round One: Obama. But, maybe, just maybe, this will be a chance for Jindal to focus on Louisiana and worry about the Presidency later.
John Sutherlin, PhD, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He may be reached by emailing email@example.com.